By Matt Jenkins
---- — PEABODY — Austin Prep football coach Bill Maradei has been a head coach for nearly 40 years and is approaching 250 career wins. He’s coached against some of the best teams in the Catholic Central League, so his assessment of Bishop Fenwick after last night’s game should carry a lot of weight.
“I think they have championship potential written all over them. Wow, they’re good,” Maradei said after the Crusaders used a balanced offense, stingy defense and explosive special teams play to roll the previously undefeated Cougars, 48-18.
Maradei decided Austin Prep’s best chance at competing with the Crusaders was loading up to stop the run. The Cougars did relatively well in that department, but there’s much more to Fenwick than just junior running back Rufus Rushins.
Senior quarterback Nick Bona threw for 168 yards, including touchdown passes to Charlie Maistrellis (27 yards) and Eric Razney (37). Bona also ran for 86 yards and another score.
Rushins was limited to 68 yards on the ground, but did find the end zone twice.
“We always want to try to establish the run, but they’ve got nine guys in the box, playing man-to-man on Eric and Charlie,” Fenwick (5-0) coach Dave Woods said. “I guess you have to pick your poison when you try to defend us.”
Fenwick started fast by scoring two touchdowns in both the first and second quarters.
Rushins scored from 4 yards and Bona connected with Maistrellis for the first-quarter scores. Then, Bona hit Razney on a skinny post for a 37-yard TD on a 4th-and-8 midway through the second quarter for a 21-0 advantage. Fenwick had run the same play two plays earlier, but Razney dropped it.
“I was very disappointed. Once I get mad I just can’t put myself back in the play,” Razney said. “I have really good teammates around me that try to cheer me up. I just try to forget about it. Once I caught something I started to get in my groove a little bit.”
Bona added a 7-yard touchdown run before halftime before Razney made a couple more big plays.
Austin Prep finally got on the board when Nick Mulcahy scored from 1 yard with 32 seconds left, but Razney took the ensuing kickoff back 75 yards for what appeared to be a score. The play came back due to a block in the back.
There was a long delay after that play because Austin Prep’s Bobby Murphy was seriously injured from a collision not related to the penalty. Murphy was motionless for a brief time before trainers rolled him to his back. After approximately 20 minutes, Murphy was taken out in an ambulance with an apparent head injury.
After halftime, Razney made up for the penalty by returning that kickoff 78 yards for the touchdown.
He added the exclamation point by intercepting Austin Prep quarterback Connor Duffy on the next possession.
Rushins and Robert Carrillo added second-half touchdowns as the Crusaders put it away.
“Bigger, faster, stronger, they’re just a better team,” Maradei said. “I knew their passing game was going to be a problem. I thought we did a decent job with the running game, keeping it in check a little bit. The quarterback is a very good player. They can do it all.”
The victory was program win No. 299 and the Crusaders can get the milestone win by defeating St. Mary’s of Lynn Saturday in a game that could also clinch the CCL.