By Matt Jenkins
---- — The North Shore high school football scene can claim very few offenses that are truly powerful and well-balanced.
Through a combined seven games now, it’s more than fair to assume Bishop Fenwick and Pingree fit in that exclusive group.
Fenwick and Pingree each took their scoring shows on the road this weekend, and neither team could be stopped.
The Crusaders picked up a huge Catholic Central League victory, pounding Cardinal Spellman, 42-20. Pingree, meanwhile, went to Connecticut to edge Hamden Hall, 53-48, in a wild shootout.
Powered by 245 rushing yards and a pair of touchdowns from bruising junior running back Rufus Rushins, Fenwick jumped on Cardinal Spellman early and overpowered the Cardinals down the stretch.
Fenwick opened a 14-0 lead on Cardinal Spellman in the first quarter on touchdowns by seniors Nick Bona (28-yard run) and Tom Parsons (70-yard fumble return), then stretched its lead to three scores when Rushins found the end zone in the second quarter.
Spellman had an answer late in the first half when Rory Donovan went 75 yards for a touchdown, but Bona connected with senior wide receiver Eric Razney on two consecutive passes, the second of which resulted in a 26-yard touchdown just before intermission.
“In years past, teams in our league like Arlington Catholic were like this. We can throw and run; it does make it tough to defend,” Fenwick (4-0) coach Dave Woods said. “I’m glad I’m calling the plays and not trying to defend it.”
Fenwick took a 28-6 lead into halftime and matched the hosts in the second half by riding Rushins. He scored from 19 yards to keep Fenwick up by three scores in the third quarter, then the Crusaders went to a Power-I formation to close the game.
The Crusaders ran 11 plays and killed about eight minutes off the clock in the fourth quarter, with Rushins running behind over-sized fullbacks (and usual linemen) David Hurley and Brandon DeBarardinis. Eventually, Bona connected with James Traversy for an 11-yard touchdown pass off a play-action fake.
“We ran the same play eight times in a row (to Rufus) and then we ran a different play, then ran it three more in a row,” Woods said. “Maybe I’ve run a play three times in a row before, but we ran it eight times and he was getting 10, 7, 9, 8 yards; it was impressive.”
Parsons, a cornerback, and Hurley, a middle linebacker, drew praise from Woods for their defensive play. Kevin Hannon, a linebacker, also forced the fumble that Parsons returned for the touchdown.
Following a different formula than Fenwick, Pingree was the team that fell behind early in its game.
Hamden Hall scored two quick touchdowns, but Pingree answered by scoring the next three touchdowns to set off what turned into a crazy, back-and-forth affair.
Quarterback Griffin Beal had a huge game for Pingree, throwing touchdown passes to Justin Assad (69 yards), Johnnie Spears (25), Kyle Lentini (61) and Alex Salalayko (37). Beal also had touchdown runs of 1 and 9 yards.
Beal completed 11 of 24 passes for 338 yards and also ran for 75 yards.
In addition to his touchdown catch, Spears returned a punt 71 yards for a score. He finished with four catches for 116 yards and also ran for 65 yards. Assad, meanwhile, had three grabs for 113 yards.
Pingree (3-0) didn’t take control of the game until it scored three straight third quarter touchdowns, capped by Tom Zaleski’s 6-yard touchdown run.
After last week’s 52-14 win over Tilton, this is the first time in program history that the Highlanders have scored more than 50 points in back-to-back games.
“We have returned a lot of players, but they’re still all young. Other than Spears, Salalayko and Lentini, they’re all sophomores or younger,” Pingree coach Chris Powers said. “I thought we may have the potential (offensively), but it was a matter of how they fit together. Things are going our way and I like to think we’re going to improve over the course of the season.”
Powers lauded the defensive play of Nino Leone, Kevin Moyette and Connor Bandar.