By Cary Shuman
You know it’s a big game when the MIAA hosts a breakfast in your honor, it’s being televised, the venue is Gillette Stadium, your team is staying at a hotel the night before – and oh, yes – the championship trophy for all of Massachusetts is on the line.
To all that add in that St. Mary’s High School head football coach Matt Durgin and his exciting, undefeated team are the talk of the town – and the entire school community – students, faculty, administration, trustees and alumni – will be at Gillette on Saturday when the Spartans play East Bridgewater in the Division 3A Super Bowl.
The game is a rematch of last year’s state semifinal when East Bridgewater edged St. Mary’s, 26-18.
Durgin said his team is excited about playing on high school football’s biggest stage, the same field where many of the players’ NFL idols compete.
“The players had the opportunity to go out on the field [Tuesday] and I think it’s pretty exciting to do that – they’ve seen so many great players play on it,” said Durgin, who played college football at the University of Rhode Island.
The Super Bowl was one of the Spartans’ goals before the season.
“Our first goal was to win the league, win the North – they earned the right to play in the Super Bowl,” said Durgin. “Now they have to earn the victory.”
St. Mary’s brings one of the state’s most prolific offenses in to the Super Bowl. Calvin Johnson has enjoyed an All-Scholastic-caliber season. Abraham Toe continued his exceptional play from a year ago. Liam Reddy has been a two-way force on the line and is a superb leader.
“But there are other guys who haven’t received much recognition. We have unsung players like [quarterback] Marcus Atkins, Brendon Donahue, Freddy Blaise, Cameron Sakowich, Joey Silvestri, and two starting cornerback since their freshman year – Marlon Scott and James Brumfield – who got noticed for the Stoneham game but he’s been very good all year. And our two tight ends, Patrick Henry and Matt Cross, have been great all year. It’s taken everybody to get us here.”
Durgin said the city has been very supportive in the weeks leading up to the game. “The response around the entire city has been excellent. People have wished us luck and the St. Mary’s community has been outstanding to us.”
The St. Mary’s contingent will be staying at one of the hotels at Patriot Place in Foxboro.
“We would not be able to do this without the support of our Boosters Club, the St. Mary’s community, and alumni,” said Durgin.
Durgin singled out the efforts of director of athletics Jeff Newhall, who is handling many responsibilities for the team, all while serving as head coach of the St. Mary’s girls basketball team that began practices Monday.
“We thank the administration of St. Mary’s and the time that Jeff Newhall has put in to make this trip to the Super Bowl happen. Jeff is working double duty and he has been outstanding.”
Durgin and his coaching staff are very proud of what their team has accomplished to-date.
“It’s been a great group. The kids have handled success well. They’re not a rah-rah group. They just go about their business.”