PEABODY — The last time the St. John’s Prep football team was on field turf, they were celebrating a Division 1 Super Bowl championship at Bentley University last December.
Last night on the turf at Bishop Fenwick’s Donaldson Field, the celebration was much more subtle. The Eagles are keenly aware that their New England Championship in the Northeast 7v7 tournament offers no guarantees of success this fall, but still represents a great first step.
The silver bowl style trophy they earned last night by beating St. Paul’s of Connecticut in the final, 16-14, and the assortment of Under Armour gear the players receive for participating are handsome rewards.
“It’s organized backyard football,” said the Prep’s Jake Burt, a 6-foot-4 tight end who’s a force in a 7-on-7 setting because of his reach and ability to ‘box out’ defenders. “I’m out here doing what I’ve always down in backyard football — going up for the ball.”
The Prep was one of 24 teams at Fenwick last night to compete for the New England title. The clubs were divided into six brackets of four, and each team played three games before the top two from each bracket advanced.
St. John’s won its first three games to advance and earn a bye; it then defeated Portsmouth and Chelmsford to reach the final against St. Paul, a team featuring UConn-commit Logan Marchi at quarterback.
“He threw some dimes out there. To go against a team like that, with some good athletes and a great quarterback, we had a bunch of fun out there,” said Johnny Thomas, St. John’s Prep’s Maryland-committed running back, who made some dazzling athletic catches along the sidelines throughout the evening.
Quarterback Michael Geaslen was sharp for St. John’s and, along with Burt and Thomas, Owen Rockett proved to be a versatile threat on both offense and defense.