The Salem News
---- — One of the first people to congratulate the St. John’s Prep football players after they beat Brockton to win the Division 1 Super Bowl last Saturday night was Tyler Coppola.
Coppola led St. John’s to an upset win on Thanksgiving at Xaverian two years ago and into the playoffs, where they defeated New Bedford but fell to powerful Everett in the Division 1 Super Bowl. The Prep’s all-time leading rusher and single-season leader was there at Bentley last weekend along with several of his former teammates.
“It was a good feeling to be there to support the team and share in the experience. We didn’t get to do it, but Lucas Bavaro, Alex Moore, Gerry Kahari and Johnny Thomas were with us along with so many others,” said Coppola. “It was basically the same defense as when I was a senior.
“They’ve been in contention the last couple of years, and it was awesome to see them finally do it. A lot of my friends from that 2010 team came to see the game; we’d like to think we had a little something to do with it.”
The 5-foot-9, 180-pound Coppola transferred from Marist College to Bentley after his freshman year and played in a backup role for the Falcons this past season. He is majoring in finance and accounting.
Watching his alma mater win the Super Bowl on his current college home turf made it even more special for Coppola.
“The first time we went to the Super Bowl it was such a nerve-wracking experience. Being at Gillette Stadium was awesome, but I think we were very nervous,” he said. “Everett had been there before and that was a big help for them. This time (the Eagles) were ready and not just happy to get there.
“I got a release from my coach at Marist so I didn’t have any problem transferring. I liked the school, but didn’t like being so far away from my family and friends. When I was in high school I talked to Bentley coaches about playing baseball and football. I’m going to concentrate strictly on football and not go out for baseball here.”
Bentley had an 8-2 record this past season, but didn’t get to go to the playoffs because New Haven was perfect at 10-0.
Former Bishop Fenwick running back Bobby Tarr is among those graduating from Bentley next spring, so Coppola figures to see a lot more time in the backfield in 2013 along with former Catholic Memorial player Lorenzo Warren.
Last spring when Notre Dame head football coach Brian Kelly returned to his alma mater at St. John’s Prep, he spoke to a large crowd at a banquet at Danversport Yacht Club that included members of the 2012 football squad.
At the time, Kelly mentioned that both his Fighting Irish and the Eagles were striving to be No. 1.
How prophetic his words turned out to be, with St. John’s winning the Division 1 Super Bowl crown and unbeaten Notre Dame (12-0) ranked as the top team in the country and playing 12-1 Alabama for the BCS Championship next month.
Former Prep football coach/athletic director Fred Glatz has been rooting for two of his former football players now coaching: Kelly and Bill O’Brien at Penn State.
O’Brien, a former New England Patriots assistant coach, took over at a very tough time after the Jerry Sandusky scandal and the multitude of sanctions put on the Nittany Lions, but he provided a steady hand to try to right the ship and had a very good season at 8-4.
Jean DePlacido is a part-time writer and columnist for The Salem News. Contact her at email@example.com.