Sunday, October 23, 2016

St. John's Sends a Message Against Leominster

St. John's coach John Andreoli addresses his team after the Pioneers' big win over rival Leominster.
By Connor Evans (@RonnocEvans)

SHREWSBURY, Mass. - Saturday’s contest between perennial Central Mass powerhouses and longtime rivals St. John’s (Shrewsbury) and Leominster ended in an unexpected landslide of points, all on the Pioneers’ side. When the clock finally hit zero, SJ had blanked the Blue Devils 35-0 on a rainy day in Shrewsbury.

The Rushing Attack

The clear dominant performance offensively today was the Pioneers’ backfield. The Blue Devils just couldn’t come up with an answer for these running backs. When Peter Oliver, who was having a great game with the opening touchdown carry, went down with a shoulder injury in the second quarter, Michael Bernard stepped in. He would run for a pair of scores on the day.

Joining him on the board would be Tom Feraco, a defensive end who lines up as a fullback on occasion. He would punch one in on the goal line in the second quarter. Then, even wide receiver Josh Shrestha would find his way to the end zone on a jet sweep from 30 yards out. Each of these guys runs differently, and it was clearly just a nightmare to keep track of on a day where everyone had enough trouble staying standing on a wet, slippery field.

The Red Zone

Most of the time, we think of the red zone as the offensive zone from the 20 to opposing goal line. During this game however, it more accurately meant the area of the field that was absolutely dominated by St. John’s. On both sides of the ball, we saw the Pioneers play arguably their best football inside the 20s.

Although scoring was clearly abundant, the biggest standout of the day was their ability to put a lid on a potent Blue Devil offense. Leominster had no shortage of attempts in the red zone on the day, but their drives would fizzle out seemingly each time they approached the end zone. MAJOR props to the St. John’s defensive unit.

The Takeaway: Leominster

Look, it happens sometimes. Every so often, you have a day where you just don’t have the ball bounce your way (literally, I mean a squib kick from SJ to open the second half took a bizarre bounce off a blocker, only to end up in the hands of the Pioneers again), and Leominster needs to forget about this one.

Sure there are some adjustments to be made, but honestly, this was just one of those games. I don’t think what we saw Saturday was representative of this program by a long shot. Time to put this one out of mind, and gear up for next week. There’s still a lot of football to play. And hey, if you want redemption, you'll probably see SJ in the playoffs.

The Takeaway: St. John’s

What a win. Every component of this team performed about as close to perfection as it could get, or so it seemed. The offense lit it up, the defense shut it down. What more can you ask for?

After the win, head coach John Andreoli was highly complementary of his team.

“We had a tough one last weekend, and so we did things to improve on what we needed to improve on," Andreoli said. "We had a great week of practice. It was intense. We had a real good week of preparation on both sides of the ball.”

That team growth will certainly be beneficial moving forward. Coach Andreoli would add “For us, they’re all playoff games from here on in.”

This team is serious. They didn’t take that loss last week to Wachusett lightly, and have no intention of losing again this year. Watch out CMass, if the St. John’s we saw today is who we will see every week from here on in, opponents are in trouble.

No comments :