By Joyce Erekson
St. Mary’s trip to the Division 3A Super Bowl didn’t go as planned, but the 34-8 loss to East Bridgewater didn’t negate a very successful season that saw the Spartans finish 11-1 and take home the Catholic Central League title.
“Maybe the results weren’t there, but the effort, the character of the kids, that was still there,” coach Matt Durgin said, adding that East Bridgewater is a very good team.
“They took advantage of our mistakes,” Durgin said.
The Vikings found a way to stifle a St. Mary’s offense that had been virtually unstoppable all season. Star running back Calvin Johnson, who amassed more than 1,200 yards rushing this year, finished with minus-eight yards on the ground. He did, however, have 84 yards receiving on five catches. Abraham Toe, the other half of the dynamic duo, led the Spartans with 42 yards rushing on 13 carries. As a team, St. Mary’s finished with 176 total yards with only 48 coming on the ground. Quarterback Marcus Atkins completed nine of 15 passes for 128 yards.
The Spartans turned the ball over six times (4 fumbles and 2 interceptions) and that was a momentum killer.
“We never got a rhythm going,” Durgin said. “When we did get something going, we turned it over.”
Perhaps the toughest news to come out of the loss occurred in the first half when freshman Matt Cross had to be taken off the field on a stretcher. The 6-7 linebacker/tight end, who was instrumental in the St. Mary’s boys basketball team’s state championship season as an eighth grader last year, broke his leg.
“He’s a big part of what we do overall on both sides of the ball,” Durgin said. “The kids see that.
Durgin said losing Cross hurt, but it’s not an excuse.
“We’re not going to make excuses,” Durgin said. “We just hope he’s OK. We’re concerned about his health.”
Lost in the final result is the fact the Spartan defense also did some good things out there, forcing the Vikings to cough the ball up four times.
“Talk about turnovers. Our defense was unbelievable. We had terrible field position and the defense played huge,” Durgin said.
Although they fell a win short of their ultimate goal, Durgin said the experience will be something the kids remember for years even though the loss hurts right now.
“The experience was great. The kids had a great time going through it,” he said. “I know the outcome today, tomorrow, it’s going to hurt but in the long run, in the years to come, they proved something together with their team. They got to play in Gillette Stadium, play on the best team in the NFL’S field. They’re going to take a lot of things from this, from the entire season. I wouldn’t trade any of these kids. They’re awesome.”