Saturday, November 11, 2017

Xaverian Crushes Catholic Memorial, Advances to D1 Super Bowl

By Matt Feld (@mattyfeld612)

WESTWOOD — Over the course of the first five years of the new MIAA playoff format only one program has represented Division 1 South.

For the fifth straight time, Xaverian is headed to the Super Bowl as behind 167 rushing yards, two touchdowns, and an interception from Ikechukwu Irabor the No. 3 Hawks downed No. 5 Catholic Memorial, 35-7, in the Division 1 South Sectional Final on a winter night at Xaverian Brothers High School.

The Hawks (6-3) will be looking to win their third state championship in five tries.

First year head coach Al Fornaro relieved legendary coach Charlie Stevenson of his duties following last season. After getting out to a sluggish 1-3 start, the Hawks have looked like those dominant teams that played under Stevenson the final four years of his tenure.

Over the course of their three postseason wins Xaverian outscored their opponents 107-23 with each one being all but decided by halftime.

It's rewarding for the young men here who get to play for a great program," said Fornaro. "The beautiful thing about the postseason is you get to do a re-do."

Playing in the coldest night in New England so far this fall, the Hawks stuck to what they do best and simply wore out the Knights as the contest went along.

Xaverian, already known for their stout running attack, overpowered Catholic Memorial as bringing down the Hawks built backs proved difficult considering the elements.

Irabor, Michael Masse (2 TDs) and quarterback Davin Sweeney led a ground game that totaled 200 yards rushing in the first half and three scores. Defensively, meanwhile, the Hawks refused to let Catholic Memorial’s aerial assault gain any of the same traction that it had in weeks past.

The Knights were held to just 66 yards of offense in the first half and their only score came on the opening play of the fourth quarter when Nick Goffredo hit Owen McGowan for a 17-yard touchdown.

“Coming from being a defensive coordinator our effort tonight was very satisfying,” said Fornaro. “The athletes (CM) has, especially on the outside, are really dangerous.”

On its opening drive of the night Xaverian established the running game, driving 62 yards over nine plays capped off by a one-yard touchdown run by Masse to go up 7-0.

Later in the quarter after a Hawks punt pinned the Knights at their own one yard line, Brian Abraham intercepted Goffredo and returned it five yards for a touchdown.

As the half went on Xaverian increased their control on the contest. An Irabor tackle for a loss forced a Knights punt early in the second quarter, and on the third play of their ensuing drive Masse took a handoff off the zone read and ran it from 39 yards out to put Xaverian up 20-0.

Irabor capped off the Hawks scoring for with a 21 yard score to give Xaverian an insurmountable 28-0 lead at the half.

You have to be able to run the ball and stop the run in November," said Fornaro. "We ran it effectively. We knew if we took the pass away we would be successful and we did."

Central Catholic and Everett will battle it out tomorrow evening to earn the right to face the Hawks in the Division 1 State Final. One thing, however, is for certain. No matter what seed they are entering the postseason in the years to come, Xaverian showed Friday night that they will always be favored in the South. 

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