By Jean DePlacido
---- — St. John’s Prep senior running back/defensive back Alex Moore has been named Massachusetts Gatorade Player of the Year, it was announced yesterday.
A Boxford resident, Moore is the first football player from the Prep to receive this honor since Matt Antonelli was selected back in 2002. Antonelli decided to play baseball in college and was drafted in the first round of the Major League Baseball Draft by the San Diego Padres.
“I found out from my coaches (head coach Jim) O’Leary and (assistant Jameson) Pelkey (yesterday) morning,” Moore said last night. “I’m honored to think I was even mentioned for this award, let alone to be chosen.
“Gatorade is one of the most prestigious awards you can get, but this is not all about me. My teammates had a lot to do with it. All the hard work the whole team put in has led to this. I feel honored to be part of the whole conversation with the best athletes to play for St. John’s Prep.
“I’m excited, but I couldn’t have accomplished anything without Johnny Thomas, Lucas Bavaro, and my great offensive line. Johnny and I try to give our line all the credit because they’re one of the main reasons we’ve been able to run for so many yards,” added Moore, who is still undecided about where he wants to play in college, but is getting lots of offers.
Moore has 14 touchdowns in 11 games this fall and is the Eagles’ leading receiver with 17 catches for 381 yards and 4 touchdowns. He has also gained over 800 yards rushing, often using his speed to outrun defenders for long gains.
An outstanding student as well, Moore is also a force on defense at outside linebacker and has been used at safety in the past. He can be counted on to come up with a big play either offensively or defensively in just about every game.
In the Prep’s semifinal playoff win against Andover Tuesday, he stripped the ball from a Golden Warrior receiver at his own 12-yard line; that turnover led to the Eagles’ second touchdown drive.
“Alex has been outstanding both on offense and defense,” O’Leary said. “He’s very athletic and very fast. It’s a very nice honor for him.”
Moore said that he and Thomas work well together. Having two outstanding weapons in the Prep backfield has made it hard for teams to key on either one. Brockton head coach Peter Colombo called the duo the “best backfield tandem in the state.”
“Johnny and I like to work off each other, but we get a lot of help from Lucas (Bavaro) outside and Gerry (Kahari) in the slot,” Moore said.” “We’ve been playing together for a long time, and the chemistry on this team is incredible.
“Two years ago we were happy to get to the Super Bowl. Lucas and I were talking about that the other day; we’ve been there before and we know it’s not going to be easy. Brockton will be all fired up looking for a ‘W’ because we beat them earlier this year. We had trouble stopping their offense, but our defense has been doing a great job. I’ve got faith in them.
“Even if we get a slow start — which I hope doesn’t happen — we’ve got to keep playing our game,” he added. “We’ll go man-to-man and work hard together. I’m confident we can overcome anything together. This time we want to get over the hump; it’s not just about getting there. We want to win.”