By Matt Jenkins
---- — Only one week of practice remains for the Bishop Fenwick football team, which will take on Northbridge Saturday night (8 p.m.) at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough in the Division 5 Super Bowl.
The Crusaders, who take a 12-0 record into the title game, have a lot of preparation ahead of them and are only focused on what’s to come, but here’s a game-by-game breakdown of how Fenwick has cruised through the 2013 season:
Game 1: Bishop Fenwick 54, Hamilton-Wenham 27
Summary: Fenwick trailed 21-17 at halftime, but blew the doors off Hamilton-Wenham in the second half, scoring on four straight possessions and outscoring the Generals 23-0 in the fourth quarter. Fenwick ran for more than 400 yards with junior Rufus Rushins collecting 184 yards and four touchdowns, and senior quarterback Nick Bona adding 108 yards on the ground.
Momentum changer: Hamilton-Wenham regained the lead in the second half, but senior captain Charlie Maistrellis took the ensuing kickoff back 90 yards for a score, and Fenwick never looked back.
They said it: “I thought we came out a little slow, but once we got the swing of things we hit the ground running,” Bona said. “We finally got warmed up. We haven’t played a real game in nine months, but everything started clicking in the second half.”
Game 2: Bishop Fenwick 41, North Shore Tech 0
Summary: The Fenwick defense made its first big impression of the season, giving the Bulldogs no room to move all night and recording its only shutout of the season. The Crusaders took advantage of premium field position all night and finished their possessions with points. Rushins carried the ball 15 times for 83 yards and a pair of short TDs while Bona had six carries for 70 yards, including a 56-yard touchdown run. Junior Robert Carrillo broke a 75-yard touchdown run in the second half and led Fenwick with 85 yards rushing.
Momentum changer: Fenwick blocked two punts — one for a touchdown — and forced another short punt with pressure. The Crusaders scored 20 points off those changes in possession.
They said it: “I thought my kids fought hard and that’s all I can ask them to do, but we weren’t going to beat this football team tonight,” North Shore Tech coach Paul Worth said.
Game 3: Bishop Fenwick 46, Arlington Catholic 14
Summary: Arlington Catholic took an early lead, but the Crusaders overpowered the hosts and wore them down thanks to Rushins and Bona. Rushins ran for 186 yards and three TDs and Bona threw for 122 yards and two scores while also running for 84 yards and another touchdown.
Momentum changer: Fenwick spent most of the first half chasing the Cougars, trying to take control. Fenwick had a 26-14 lead at the half, but Bona’s 32-yard touchdown pass to Eric Razney in the third quarter put the Crusaders in complete control.
They said it: “Championship teams don’t do things like that,” Fenwick coach Dave Woods said about his team’s sloppy play in the first half. “I think the kids came out a little more focused in the second half. That’s the difference between being a real good team and being a championship team.”
Game 4: Bishop Fenwick 42, Cardinal Spellman 20
Summary: This was Fenwick’s statement game. The Crusaders went on the road to Brockton — maybe the toughest place to play in the Catholic Central League — and punished the Cardinals. Unveiling their “power” formation with lineman Brandon DeBerardinis and David Hurley in the backfield with Rushins, the Crusaders controlled time and possession in the second half while pulling away from Spellman. Rushins finished with 245 yards rushing and two touchdowns.
Momentum changer: Fenwick forced a fumble in the first quarter and senior cornerback Tommy Parsons scooped it up and raced 70 yards for a touchdown that gave the Crusaders an early two-score lead.
They said it: “I’m glad I’m calling the plays and not trying to defend it,” Woods said about his team’s offense.
Game 5: Bishop Fenwick 48, Austin Prep 18
Summary: Fenwick took complete control of the CCL with this win, dealing the Cougars their first loss of the season in the process. Fenwick moved to 5-0 by defeating Austin Prep in all facets of the game, using balanced offense, a tough defense and game-breaking special teams play to roll. Bona threw for 168 yards and two touchdowns.
Momentum changer: On 4th-and-8, Bona connected with Razney for a 37-yard touchdown to give Fenwick a 21-0 lead, eliminating any chance for Austin Prep.
They said it: “I think they have championship potential written all over them. Wow, they’re good,” veteran Austin Prep coach Bill Maradei said.
Game 6: Bishop Fenwick 34, St. Mary’s 6
Summary: This victory sealed up the CCL title for Fenwick, and was the program’s 300th win. Bona completed 11 of 15 passes for 150 yards and three touchdowns. Maistrellis caught five passes for 73 yards and two touchdowns.
Momentum changer: The momentum was already well in hand for Fenwick by this point, but Rushins’ second touchdown run of the second half, where he carried several St. Mary’s defenders into the end zone with him, was the symbolic play of the game.
They said it: “We want to be in the (Division 5) Super Bowl at Gillette (Stadium),” senior captain and offensive lineman Charlie St. Pierre said, providing a glimpse into his team’s motivation.
Game 7: Bishop Fenwick 42, Archbishop Williams 13
Summary: With a league title already in their grasp, the Crusaders completed goal No. 2 by running the regular season table. Bona threw for three more touchdowns and ran for one while Rushins finished with 110 yards and two TDs, surpassing 1,000 yards for the season in the process. Razney caught four passes for 100 yards.
Momentum changer: Bona connected with Maistrellis (34 yards) and Razney (66 yards) for touchdowns on back-to-back possessions to put the Crusaders in complete control.
They said it: “The way these kids ran through the league is pretty impressive, with no close games. I’ve never seen it since I’ve been here (16 years),” Woods said.
Game 8, Division 5 North first round: Bishop Fenwick 33, St. Mary’s 12
Summary: Fenwick faced its stiffest challenge to date, scoring two fourth quarter touchdowns to pull away from the Spartans. The victory didn’t come without a loss, however, as Rushins was knocked out of the game with a dislocated elbow. Maistrellis’ athleticism was on display in this win. He ran for a 26-yard TD in the first quarter and added a 27-yard score in the fourth. He also made a big catch for a 34-yard gain to set up his second touchdown. Bona threw for 129 yards and ran for 70 yards and two scores.
Momentum changer: Maistrellis’ second touchdown gave Fenwick a 26-12 lead with 8:36 to go.
They said it: “Somebody asked me about a week ago, ‘If your kids are going to be in a tough game, how do you think they’ll respond?’ We answered that tonight, no question,” Woods said.
Game 9, Division 5 North semifinals: Bishop Fenwick 28, Austin Prep 12
Summary: Playing without Rushins, Bona came through with several big plays. The senior signal caller ran for 111 yards and threw for 55 yards and a score. Bona helped Fenwick convert on four fourth down plays.
Momentum changer: Leading 7-6 but facing a 4th-and-10, Bona dropped back to pass and faced heavy pressure from the Cougars. He tucked it away and broke free for a 25-yard touchdown run that ended up being the game-winner.
They said it: “It was definitely a lot of heart. Most of the plays we were running on fourth down, you could hear them saying what they were. They knew what play was coming and we just had to make something of it,” Bona said.
Game 10, Division 5 North final: Bishop Fenwick 43, Northeast 6
Summary: Another win, another goal achieved. Fenwick captured the Div. 5 North title with this one-sided win. Big plays were the name of the game as Bona hit Razney with touchdown passes of 50 and 51 yards, respectively, and Maistrellis scored on a 40-yard run and a 54-yard punt return.
Momentum changer: Both of Bona’s passes to Razney seemed to stun Northeast, and both scores gave Fenwick a quick two-touchdown lead.
They said it: “This is just one accomplishment and we have a bigger goal,” Parsons said.
Game 11, Division 5 state semifinals: Bishop Fenwick 35, Abington 8
Summary: Rushins returned to the lineup and ran for 152 yards and two scores. Fenwick intercepted Abington quarterback Bryan Dwyer four times with Matt Renzulli, Razney, Maistrellis and Bona each grabbing one. The Crusaders locked up their trip to the Super Bowl with this win.
Momentum changer: Trailing 8-6, Kevin Hannon recovered an Abington fumble with 4:39 to play in the first half. Hurley, lined up in the backfield, capped the drive by scoring from 5 yards out, then caught the two-point conversion pass for a 14-8 lead.
They said it: “I said to one of my coaches, ‘We’ve (forced) three turnovers and we’re losing, 8-6. That’s not good.’ We needed to capitalize. That (Hurley’s) score was huge. To go in (to halftime) with a lead was big,” Woods said.
Game 12, Thanksgiving Day: Bishop Fenwick 36, Pingree 27
Summary: Playing for nothing more than pride and to keep their unbeaten record in tact, the Crusaders continued to get the job done. Bona ran for 150 yards and a touchdown, threw for 78 yards and made a ton of plays defensively. He earned the Sal Tripoli Award, given to Fenwick’s MVP on Thanksgiving. Rushins also sat out to rest his elbow before the Super Bowl game.
Momentum changer: Carrillo scored on 11-yard touchdown runs on back-to-back possessions to erase a 20-16 halftime deficit, giving Fenwick the lead for good.
They said it: “I don’t think there’s any question that they’re the best football team this school has ever had, probably the best team our league has ever seen,” Woods said.