Where: Donaldson Field, Peabody (10 a.m.)
All-time series: First meeting
Key to victory for Pingree: The Highlanders should be able to produce some points. It’s unlikely that Fenwick has played a team with as much talent as the Highlanders have at the skills positions, but the Crusaders score points in bunches, too. The Pingree defense will have to find ways to get stops if it hopes to put the first blemish on Fenwick’s record.
Key to victory for Bishop Fenwick: Contain Johnnie Spears. Spears is one of the most dynamic players on the North Shore. He beats teams on the ground (696 rushing yards) and through the air (616 receiving yards), and he has blazing speed. Fenwick hasn’t battled many teams this season with a passing attack like Pingree’s, so defending the pass will be a major concentration for the Crusaders.
Intangibles: It’s difficult to predict how Fenwick will approach this game. This Fenwick team is full of competitors who have been focused on “finishing” this season, but risking the team’s health for next week’s Super Bowl is a slippery slope. On the other hand, it’s not like Fenwick has a roster comparable to St. John’s Prep’s. The Crusaders only have about 30 players dressed for each game, so their options are limited. Also, Pingree — a team with a talented quarterback who can throw the ball — could be the perfect warm-up for Fenwick’s Super Bowl opponent, Northbridge.
Did You Know?: Pingree (43.75 points per game) and Bishop Fenwick (40.5 per game) are the two highest scoring teams among the 13 covered by The Salem News.