Saturday, November 11, 2017

Postgame Blog: St. John's Wins Shrewsbury Bowl, Advances to State Semifinals

By Connor Evans (@RonnocEvans)

SHREWSBURY — The CMass Championship featuring cross-town rivals St. John's (Shrewsbury) and Shrewsbury High School came with some hype, but what started out as a hot contest would soon turned into a landslide as the Pioneers of St. John’s would cruise to a dominant 36-14 victory over the Colonials.

Q1: SJ scored on its opening possession, as Colin Deso received a hand-off up the middle for the first score of the night. The 2-pt conversion would set them up with an 8-0 lead. The Colonials would answer however, on a methodical drive of their own. Taking nearly 7 minutes off the clock, the drive would be capped off by a Drew Campanale QB-keeper up the middle. We'd head to Q2 tied 8-8

Q2: The second quarter opened with a quick score from the Pioneers, as Danny Byers found the end zone on a nice run. 16-8 SJ. Again, a long drive in response for the Colonials which resulted in a Jonathan White TD-reception, courtesy of Campanale. The failed 2-pt conversion would set the score at 16-14, SJ. This would be the last score of the game for Shrewsbury. On the ensuing drive, SJ got down the field again in a hurry, to go up 23-14. The whole drive felt like QB Steve Bucciaglia to Drugotch. The two had a few nice connections as well as the touchdown. We would go to halftime with the same score (23-14 SJ)

Q3: The Pioneers defense would get their first big stop to open the third quarter, neutralizing the Colonials' offense for the first time of the night. After taking the ball back after the punt, Bucciaglia found Drugotch (again) on a beautiful deep route. The drive would stutter but Bucciaglia got the best of the Colonials with his hard count on 4th and 6, granting the Pioneers a free play, which they took advantage of. Jay Brunelle went deep and caught another pretty ball from Bucciaglia for the score! (30-14). The Colonials got one more good look at the end zone near the end of the quarter, but a fumbled hand-off would result in the second huge stop for SJ's defense on the night. (30-14 SJ)

Q4: Another strong showing from SJ's offense to open the quarter resulted in Colin Deso's second TD of the day. After that, the Colonials would put together a noble last-ditch effort, but fall short on 4th and long, leading to a lot of clock killing for the Pioneers before they were able to hoist that trophy.

Final: 36-14, St. John's.

Takeaway for Shrewsbury:
What was supposed to be a rebuilding year turned into so much more from this Colonial team. Huge credit to the coaching staff for having a young team ready to go for another great season, and equal credit to the players for not giving into the whole "rebuilding season" mentality. These guys are going to be really strong next year and I look forward to seeing what they bring into 2018.

Takeaway for SJ:
You made it this far. Bravo! Everyone had a special feeling about this team. It's good to see that the players didn't look past CMass. Doing that, a team can usually drop one to a team they shouldn't. I wasn't sure if I believed the hype around these guys, but let's just say, they made a believer out of me tonight. Special credit on this big win to the O & D-lines. These were the biggest difference in the game. Bucciaglia had all day to throw on offense and the RBs had no trouble crossing the line of scrimmage. The D-line, particularly in the second half, was getting great penetration and constantly held a potent SHS offense to 3rd or 4th and LONG. That's how you win big games. Simple as that. I caught up (quite briefly) with Coach John Andreoli after the game.

As for how his defense held Shrewsbury to only 14 points, Coach Andreoli explained: "We knew the scheme we had was solid. We were able to execute and made a few moderate adjustments at halftime but really we felt our game plan was really solid... The last two weeks we've had really good outcomes with our second-half defense."

And on offense he expressed the success of the diverse attack: "Well we spread the ball around, we saw Coleman [Drugotch] make a couple of tremendous catches early in the game... We made some great third down conversions, kept the chains moving, kept our offense on the field. And when you get your defense on, they can make a stop and you get a score, that's the difference."

As for what this win means in regards to this team, Coach said: "These guys are such a great group. This senior class, they're even-keel, nobody takes a lot of credit, they just go out there and work hard and they've strung together 10 good wins against an outstanding schedule. Shrewsbury is a great football team and Doherty was a great team. To get where we are, they had to earn it."

The Pioneers now have their sights set on the next round, where a win would send them to the State Final. Good luck to the gentlemen in red going forward!

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