Saturday, September 17, 2016

Postgame Blog: St. John's Pulls Away from Shepherd Hill

It was a big night for St. John's juniors Steve Bucciaglia (10) and Hunter Gorgas (7).
By Joe Parello (@HerewegoJoe)

It was a tale of two halves in Dudley Friday night, as visiting St. John's scored 30 unanswered points in the game's final 17 minutes to top Shepherd Hill 44-20.

The Pioneers ran only 20 offensive plays in the first half, but junior quarterback Steve Bucciaglia got things going just before intermission. From the final three minutes of the first half on, Bucciaglia threw for three touchdowns, ran for another, and was able to step in and deliver his throws with confidence.
"Well, I think he had time to throw (in the second half), first of all," St. John's coach John Andreoli said of his quarterback suddenly finding a groove. "And he made good decisions with the ball. We didn't turn it over. We had some great throws, and catches by our wideouts and slot guys, so we were able to strike quickly, and that's key in a game like this."

"I think we just ran out of gas," Shepherd Hill coach Chris Lindstrom. "We'd have a kid make a play, then get excited and try to do somebody else's job, and then we'd have them make a play, and our guys kind of got down. We're going to learn from this, because when you play good teams like this, they're going to make good plays, so our guys will learn to bounce back... Our coaches our great, and we're going to be better as the year goes on."

Gorgas' Big Night

I've been pretty high on St. John's junior Hunter Gorgas since I saw him in a preseason scrimmage against Brockton. Well, the 6-foot-5 defensive end/wide receiver looks deserving of the hype, as he caught a red zone touchdown for the second week in a row, and came up with a pair of sacks defensively.

There's no doubt Gorgas is a rare athlete. He's got the size and strength to help anchor the powerful St. John's front seven, along with the body control and hands to dominate as a pass catcher near the goal line.

Even scarier: He seems to just be scratching the surface of his potential on both sides of the ball.

Keep an eye on this kid the rest of the year.

Pads Popping

This was an absolute slobber knocker when Shepherd Hill had the ball, as the physical Rams offensive line and stable of backs slammed into the St. John's front. There were some particularly loud collisions between Shepherd Hill running back Zach Magdis and St. John's linebacker John Fields, and SH's Brendan McKeon also had a nice pop with SJ's Liam Doran.

There are some big boys who can run on both sides of this one, and Shepherd Hill actually controlled things early.

While the St. John's no-huddle offense struggled to find its footing early, the St. John's defense was stuck on the field for extended periods of time. Shepherd Hill capitalized, building a 17-8 halftime lead behind touchdown runs from Magdis and senior quarterback Ryan Wong-Li.

But, as the St. John's "Blur" offense found its rhythm, the Pioneer defense got the chance to catch its breath. Meanwhile, the Shepherd Hill offensive line, which features a bunch of two-way players, including center/defensive end and Boston College commit Alec Lindstrom, began to wear out.

No Comment on Potential Punishment for St. John's Players

Last week, after Doherty junior Mike Oppong took a knee for the national anthem, a screen shot of a racially charged group chat emerged, featuring two St. John's players.

Neither of those players were listed on the St. John's roster Friday night, but coach John Andreoli chose not to comment on their status with the team, calling the situation a "private, internal school matter."

We certainly respect coach Andreoli's decision not to comment, and the privacy of those students (hence why we haven't named them or shown the group chat), but it does appear they are not with the team any more. Can't tell you any more than that.

Good News for Kevin Mensah

Kevin Mensah is still considered ineligible by the MIAA, but his former school, Holy Name, now seems committed to helping him get back on the field. After a productive meeting with officials from Holy Name, Chris Lindstrom decided to coach against St. John's (he sat out the opener in solidarity with Mensah), and thanked Holy Name for helping out.

As I wrote earlier this week, this is really all on the MIAA at this point.

We'll see what happens, but it's a good sign for Mensah that both his current and former school are now supporting him.

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