Friday, November 9, 2018

Div. 3 Central Preview: Shrewsbury Looks To Take Back Town Against No. 2 St. John's

For the third straight year, crosstown rivals St. John's and Shrewsbury will faceoff with a chance to send the other team home. 

By Ryan Morgera (@Rymo98)

Everybody knows that when Saint Johns and Shrewsbury play each other, in any sport, it’s guaranteed to be an absolute battle until the clock strikes zero. 

That only intensifies when these crosstown rivals matchup in the playoffs, this time, in the Division 3 Central Mass Championship game. 

Third-seeded Saint John’s (6-3) will take on No. 4 Shrewsbury (7-2) on Saturday, November 10th at 2 p.m. at Doyle Field in Leominster. Saint John’s only losses on the year have come at the hands of Catholic Memorial, Springfield Central, and Marlborough, while Shrewsbury’s two losses were to the aforementioned Pioneers and Nashoba.

These two sides have had plenty of dramatic history in recent years. Shrewsbury defeated the Pioneers in the district final in 2016 by a final score of 34-28. The Pioneers beat the Colonials in the regular season that year, by a score of 38-35. 

Shrewsbury hopes history repeats itself this time around time around, having lost to the Pioneers in the regular season matchup this year, 42-34. That game was a dog-fight until the end, with the Pioneers coming out on top after a Colin Schofield touchdown pass to the Pioneers top threat Jay Brunelle extended St. John's lead late in the fourth quarter.

“This game is the most personal it gets for me. I grew up playing with, against, and behind most of these kids” added Schofield, a Shrewsbury native who’s thrown for around 2,500 yards on close to 300 pass attempts, with 28 touchdowns. “The feeling after that regular season win was thrilling, but that’s in the past. Saturday will be a challenging final test."

This time around, the game will be played at Doyle Field, one of Central Mass’ greatest football venues. In the last 9 matchups, dating back to 2012, the Pioneers are 6-3 against the Colonials. The last time the Colonials beat St. John's in the regular season, Shrewsbury’s Max Najarian blocked a Saint John’s Jack Coveney’s field goal attempt as time expired, giving the Colonials the 23-22 victory.

Over those 9 matchups, the Pioneers scored a total of 338 points, compared to Shrewsbury’s 253 points. 

Having averaged 37.5 points per game against the Colonials over the last six years, expect Schofield, Brunelle, Eamonn Dennis and Shea Gallo-Kolegue to continue their success and put points on the board against the Colonials. 

Shrewsbury, averaging just over 28 points per game, will look to senior playmakers Drew Campanale, Jon White, and Alex Cashman to lead them offensively.

“This game is the most important game of my career and I think a lot of the guys would say the same. We are 1-1 in the playoffs against the guys down the road and to make this last one a ‘W’ would mean the world to me” said White. 

White has rushed 86 times this season for close to 700 yards and 8 scores.

With both teams averaging close to 30 points per game against each other, you can expect this game to come down to whichever side can perform in the clutch on the defensive side of the ball. 

Shrewsbury’s defense is letting up an average of just under 20 points per game this season, compared to the Pioneers' defense letting up close to 30 points per game. Led by senior Nate Hautala, who played a career game just last week in a win against Doherty, the Colonials will look to slow down the Pioneers offense on Saturday as best as they can in hopes of being crowned Division 3 Central Mass Champions for the second time in 3 years.

Make sure to follow Joe Parello (@HereWeGoJoe) ans Ryan Morgera (@rymo98) on Twitter for in-game scoring updates and videos. SuiteSports is also going to be releasing a Game Recap video after the game, shot and edited by Ryan Morgera, Joseph Meyer, Matt Foley, and Tucker Leger.

Players to look for:

-Senior center Liam Daly and the Saint John’s offensive line. The Colonials defense has had a strong year, so look for Daly and the Pioneers offensive line to give Schofield and the Pioneers’ talented receivers time to make things happen against a very aggressive Colonials defense.

-Junior receiver/returner TJ Morgera. Morgera has been hot as of recent, with 4 touchdowns in the Colonials last 3 games and stepping up after senior captain Cam Schaefer suffered a broken leg at SJ the last time around. Morgera’s also been valuable in the return game, where he excels as both a kick and punt returner. Dating back to the last matchup between these two crosstown rivals, Morgera took a kick back 70 yards, the first Colonials player to return a kick at Pioneer Field since Jay Reynolds in 2012. 

Last 9 Matchups: 

2018- SJ 42 SHS 38

2017- SJ 46 SHS 35 (regular season) SJ 36 SHS 14 (playoffs)

2016- SJ 38 SHS 35 (regular season) SHS 34 SJ 28 (playoffs)

2015- SJ 28 SHS 7

2014- SJ 52 SHS 20

2013- SHS 23 SJ 22

2012- SHS 51 SJ 46

Weather at kickoff: High 44°F Low 28°F

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