|St. John's Prep’s Alex Moore, left, celebrated teammate Anthony Bongiorno’s touchdown against Central Catholic Saturday. (Jonathan Wiggs / Globe Staff)|
St. John’s Prep runs away with win over Central Catholic
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|St. John’s Prep||31|
DANVERS — St. John’s Prep running back Johnathan Thomas spent most of the first half in the I-formation blocking for Alex Moore — an unusual position for the speedy Thomas.
But in the second half, Thomas displayed his breakaway ability as he shredded Central Catholic’s defense for 95 yards in the final 22 minutes, leading the Eagles to a 31-7 win Saturday at Cronin Stadium.
“We have two backs [Thomas and Moore], so we have a nice mix,” said St. John’s Prep coach Jim O’Leary. “It’s all about getting touches and how we mix it up for people, and we try to rotate them so they’re fresh.”
With his team ahead, 14-0, Thomas stretched the Eagles’ lead with a 46-yard score late in the third quarter.
It looked as if a Central Catholic defender brought down Thomas, but he kept his balance by pushing off a defensive lineman and broke loose up the right sideline for the score.
“I thought I fell down, but I just saw somebody on the ground and kept my balance,” said Thomas, who finished with 160 yards on 25 carries. “When I get into the open, I’ve been working on my speed and you can see it.”
It wasn’t until after Thomas’s run that Central Catholic (1-1) got on the board, as Michael Milano fired a 57-yard pass to Michael Barry with just four seconds left in the third quarter.
But the No. 3 Eagles (2-0) quickly piled on more points, using a 1-yard run from Sean Smerzynski and a 26-yard field goal from Stephen Cammarro to put the Raiders away.
St. John’s Prep smothered Central Catholic’s offense, holding the Raiders to 153 yards.
In the first half, the Raiders had just two first downs; they only had three in the game.
“You have to be a great defensive team, that’s what it takes around here,” O’Leary said. They moved the ball a little bit in the second half, but when time came to get it done, we got it done.”
In the first half, senior quarterback Jack Shario paced the Eagles’ offense, throwing for two touchdowns — one in each quarter.
“We’re doing things that he can be successful at,” O’Leary said. “We have to make people defend the field and we made that a priority.”
Next week, the Eagles will go up against No. 1 Everett (2-0).
“They’re clearly the best team in the state,” O’Leary said. “It’s going to be uphill, and they’re going to be excited to play us.”
Anthony Gulizia can be reached at email@example.com.