Saturday, September 12, 2015

Postgame Blog: St. John's Prep Too Much for Mansfield

Seniors Oliver Eberth (QB) and Jay Carnevale (C) were St. John's Prep's only two returning offensive starters, but the Eagles offense didn't miss a beat Friday night in Mansfield.
By Joe Parello (@HerewegoJoe)

It's a new season, and I will try to provide postgame blogs for every game I cover for ESPN Boston this year.

Friday the high school football season began, and I had the pleasure of producing video for ESPN Boston's Game of the Week, featuring the host Hornets of Mansfield and visiting Eagles of St. John's Prep.

Here is your reminder that this blog is not a complete recap of the game. If you would like a full story, and highlights/post game interviews, head over to ESPN Boston High Schools where we've got you covered.

As for this blog, we're moving forward.

Ollie's rEberth

Ok, so Ollie Eberth, St. John's Prep's senior quarterback, wasn't exactly reborn Friday night, but I wanted to make a pun out of his name. Sue me.

That said, Eberth delivered a performance that should quiet any "game manager" talk when referring to the Eagles' signal caller. With over 200 yards and four touchdowns through the air, along with over 50 yards and a score on the ground, Eberth was a one-man wrecking crew for SJP.

Last year as a junior, Eberth excelled on the move, usually rolling out of the pocket away from play action. Friday Eberth looked even sharper on the move, and was very crisp with his quick-hitting bubble screens and pop passes, along with a few quick outs and sticks that kept the chains moving.

It's only one game, but if Eberth can keep this up, he might be a Mr. Football finalist.

Little Brothers

St. John's Prep lost a pair of star pass catchers from last season, as tight end Jake Burt took his game to Boston College and receiver Owen Rockett graduated to play at Colgate. Luckily for the Eagles, they were carrying a spare Burt and a spare Rockett.

Younger brothers Declan Burt and Hayden Rockett, each of whom happens to play their older bro's position, combined for all four of SJP's touchdown grabs and over 180 of the team's receiving yards.

Basically, whenever Eberth dropped back to pass, one of these guys was running wide open, and both juniors looked like they had been playing in coach Brian St. Pierre's offense for years.

You've got to give it to the Eagles (who needed to replace nine starters on offense), they've got some talented families at that school.

New Blood in the Trenches

Speaking of replacing starters, the Eagles had four starting spots open on the offensive line, and all the new faces acquitted themselves well next to star senior center Jay Carnevale. SJP mixed in different interior linemen throughout the game, but guard Connor Robinson played a ton, and showed good athleticism and body control pulling, while tackles Sean McHale and Brian Barrett impressed while seal and down blocking on the Eagle's counters and traps.

Carnevale remains the star, but his supporting cast proved its worth Friday against a pretty stout Mansfield defense.

Time to Grow for Mansfield

On the other side, the Hornets showed some promise, but ultimately didn't have enough to beat the physical Eagles on opening night. Junior quarterback Anthony DeGirolamo has a cannon, but is still learning the offense and getting used to throwing on the run.

Running back Brian Lynch is a hard runner between the tackles, and is the kind of back that seems to get stronger as the game goes on. Unfortunately, with the score being what it was, the Hornets had to turn to the air, where big plays were few and far between.

Up front the Hornets' offensive line had its moments. Heck, they even put together complete drives against Prep's stout front seven, but they were also pushed around at times.

Consistency will be key for the Hornets offensively, and defensively it will be about getting proper fills, and not getting caught out of position against misdirection, something that happened too frequently for coach Michael Redding's taste Friday.

What's Next

Next up for Mansfield is Haverhill, a team that, like Mansfield, has big ambitions this year, despite a season-opening defeat. The Hillies figure to be a force in Division 2 North, but fell to Central Catholic 22-7 Friday.

Mansfield will be facing a very hungry team when they host Haverhill next Friday night.

Things only get tougher for SJP as well, as the Eagles will travel to face that very Central Catholic team that topped Haverhill, then return home for their opener the following week against state power Everett.

As coach Brain St. Pierre said to his team after the game, the Eagles' win Friday was a great first step, but Prep needs to keep stepping higher and higher each week, especially with the brutal Catholic Conference schedule it plays.

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