By Matt Williams
---- — PEABODY — If Bishop Fenwick senior football captains Charlie Maistrellis and Eric Razney swapped jerseys or weren’t wearing numbers at all, the casual observer might have a hard time telling them apart.
Both players run hard and have game-breaking speed with solid hands at the wide receiver position. It’d be a chore for a defense to prepare for one of these guys on the outside, so covering both of them have proven pretty much impossible so far in the Crusaders’ 12-0 dream season.
Maistrellis and Razney essentially learned to play the game together on the practice fields of Fenwick’s Margin Street campus in their hometown of Peabody. Maistrellis picked up football in eighth grade; Razney had been playing for a year or two by then.
They’d been friends since their days as elementary school students at St. John’s of Peabody like many of their Fenwick teammates, including quarterback Nick Bona.
It’s a long-lasting bond that has translated to both sides of the football for Bishop Fenwick, which faces 10-2 Northbridge in the Division 5 Super Bowl at Gillette Stadium Saturday (8 p.m.) in the finale of six games on Super Saturday.
“There is a little unspoken communication,” said Razney, also a cornerback and standout baseball player at Fenwick. “It probably comes in handy more on offense than on defense. We kind of know where each other’s going to be out there.”
The depth and versatility of Fenwick’s offense is one of the things that’s made them nearly unstoppable. The Crusaders have scored 482 points in 12 games, having done so in a variety of ways. Razney and Maistrellis embody that versatility.
Razney leads the way at receiver with 583 yards on 28 catches, including a pair of 100-yard receiving efforts. His eight receiving TDs are third on the North Shore, and he also has a special teams TD for a total of 54 points.
Maistrellis has 446 yards on 22 grabs to go with five TDs receiving, though that’s just the tip of the iceberg of his 11 total TDs.
“I haven’t seen every team out there, but I don’t think very many teams have a 1-2 punch at receiver like I do,” said Bona, who has tossed more than 1,000 of his 1,319 passing yards to either Maistrellis or Razney.
“They’ve been awesome. Sometimes I don’t even throw a good ball (yet) both of those guys can catch up to it, or go up and get it and make a great catch.”
Maistrellis was called on to fill in at running back when Fenwick’s workhorse, junior Rufus Rushins, was injured a few weeks ago. The result was a 100-yard rushing effort in a Division 5 playoff win over rival St. Mary’s of Lynn. The elusive, shifty runner had two of his three rushing scores in that game and also had a kick return score on the season for 11 total TDs.
“I’d done some running back at practice last year and we’d been running some stuff just in practice before Rufus got hurt,” Maistrellis said. Rushins returned for the Crusaders’ Division 5 state semifinal win over Abington, then sat out the Thanksgiving win over Pingree as a precaution.
What’s the biggest difference between finding space to make catches in the secondary and moving the chains as a running back?
“It’s a different world between the tackles,” said Maistrellis, who also plays safety. “All those hits you take in there, it’s completely different. My approach was pretty much to try to wait that split second and see where the space is — then hit it and run.”
Like the entire compliment of upperclassmen for the Crusaders, Razney and Maistrellis can’t stop thinking about how much work they put in during the summer to get ready for this football season. The weights they lifted have paid off in a big way as the team has an opportunity to live forever in Fenwick lore alongside the 1999 and 2000 squads as Super Bowl champions.
“As seniors, we want to go out with a bang,” said Razney.
“We were thinking about it during all that work we were doing,” added Maistrellis, “and it’s turned out even better than we thought.”