Five things you should know heading into tomorrow’s annual St. Johns’ Prep/Xaverian Thanksgiving clash:
1. It’s for all the marbles, Part 29. OK, it’s not actually that many times; it only feels like every time the Eagles and Hawks face each other on Thanksgiving, the Catholic Conference title is at stake. But it’s certainly true more often than not and is once again this season. Both clubs are 3-0 in league play, so a win and you’re in; lose tomorrow and you’re handing in your equipment on Friday.
2. Defend against the pass. Opponents who have had a modicum of success moving the ball on St. John’s Prep have usually done so through the air. The Eagles’ secondary must be aware of Xaverian QB Austin DeCarr (8 TD passes) and his penchant for putting the ball up with success.
3. Don’t get flagged for 15-yarders. With emotions sure to be running high tomorrow, the Prep can ill afford to pick up any unnecessary penalties, let alone those killer 15-yard infractions. It’s happened a few times this season — but simply can’t happen tomorrow if the visitors want to emerge victorious.
4. Playing the respect card. It’s hard to believe that neither Jon Thomas (1,417 rushing yards, 14 total TDs) or Alex Moore (1,074 rushing/receiving yards, 16 total TDs) received the Catholic Conference’s Player of the Year Award. Maybe it’s time for the Prep’s two most explosive talents to show the rest of the league what a foolish mistake they made by going out and running roughshod tomorrow.
5. Avoid a role reversal. Two years ago, St. John’s Prep went down to Westwood as heavy underdogs but pulled out a thrilling victory to stun Xaverian, win the league title and advance to the Super Bowl. The host Hawks find themselves in a similar position this time around — and the Prep can’t allow themselves to fall prey to the same scenario.