By Joe Kasper and Cary Shuman
They were eyeing each other season, Matt Durgin’s powerful St. Mary’s Spartans who simply rolled over everyone in their path in the regular season and North sectional, and Matt Triveri’s reigning, two-time Super Bowl champion Mashpee Falcons, who were looking to earn a third straight appearance in the state title game.
Both teams had glossy 10-0 records, big and skilled offensive lines, and starry casts, led by quarterback Calvin Johnson and state decathlon champion and running back James Brumfield of St. Mary’s, and running back Devaun Ford and offensive lineman Ben Bohnenberg (who is committed to Colgate) of Mashpee.
So the stakes were high with a trip to Gillette Stadium on the line. This was in all effects, the unofficial Super Bowl, unless Blackstone Valley can prove the experts wrong and upset Mashpee next weekend.
St. Mary’s played four quarters of intense hard-bosed football despite being without the services of standouts Marlon Scott and James Freeman.
Josh Mateo stepped up with a sensational 55-yard run for a touchdown in the first quarter. Nino Echevarria also made his presence felt with a clutch contribution. Connor Donohue made a huge stop on defense on a solo tackle to momentarily thwart Mashpee’s momentum.
Calvin Johnson, whose speed clearly had the Mashpee defense keying on him all day, threw two touchdown passes to sophomore end Eni Felayi and a wide-open James Brumfield, the latter TD manufactured by a terrific call by the St. Mary’s coaching staff.
But the undisputed MVP of the game was Mashpee’s Devaun Ford, the son of former Syracuse player Willie Ford, who was a practice squad player in the NFL.
Ford racked up 255 yards and two touchdowns on 36 carries and even when everyone knew he was going to be the ballcarrier, he was tough to tackle, often picking up extra yards after the initial hit.
Despite Ford’s consistency, St. Mary’s was in a position to win the game when the Johnson-Brumfield connection knotted the issue at 20-20 in the fourth quarter. St. Mary’s went for the go-ahead two-pointer but Mashpee sophomore Kendall Rose tackled Calvin Johnson on the left side behind the line of scrimmage.
“We sent both outside backers,” said Mashpee coach Matt Triveri. “That’s kind of what they did on film on goal line plays. They roll him [Johnson] out and he can either run or throw. I don’t blame them, that’s their best guy and they’re going to ride him. We got lucky in that he [Rose] shot through and made a great play. He’s tough to tackle.”
Mashpee’s Ford received the calls on the ensuing possession and the 6-foot, 180-pound senior scored the game-winner on a 15-yard run. The Falcons then added the two-point conversion for the 28-20 advantage.
“They were as good as advertised,” said Matt Durgin. “They’re an excellent high school football program. We may have lost, but our kids stepped up and played with them the whole game. Momentum went back and forth and it was a one play here and there. We have nothing to be ashamed of. Our kids did a great job. Every one of our kids played his heart out. It hurts because they work at it and they care. But as coaches, those kids gave it everything they had against a great football team.”
Triveri credited St. Mary’s for a highly competitive football game that came down to the final 11 minutes of play.
“I can’t say enough about St. Mary’s of Lynn,” said Triveri. “That is a win against a very good team and honestly one of the fastest kids [Calvin Johnson] I’ve seen in a long time. That team was banged up and to put in that sort of effort, it says a lot about who they are, too.”
Triveri said the Spartans were his team’s toughest test of the season.
“Archbishop Williams was a tough test and Abington as well, but St. Mary’s came after us – they run that offense about as well as we’ve seen – we’ve seen the double wing for years, but they run it really well.”
Bohenenberger also said the Falcons had great respect for the Spartans’ dominating season in the North.
“It was definitely a huge test for our line,” said Bohenberger. “We had to get movement off the ball. St. Mary’s has really good backs. They’re a Wing-T team. They go foot-to-foot. We had to make plays and we did.”
St. Mary’s will host Bishop Fenwick in the annual Thanksgiving game Wednesday at 6 p.m. at Manning Field.