SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

December 10, 2013

Unbeaten Crusaders earned their spot in program history

By Matt Jenkins
Staff Writer

---- — Once it was all over, Bishop Fenwick football coach Dave Woods could look back with certainty and express his feelings about the Division 5 Super Bowl champion Crusaders.

“They were so dominant,” Woods said of his team Saturday night after they defeated Northbridge, 28-0, at Gillette Stadium. “They’re the best team in this school’s history, no question.”

It’s hard to argue that point after Fenwick went 13-0 and outscored its opponents, 510-163.

The records this squad set were amazing, both as a group and individually. The 510 points were by far the most in program history; the previous record of 359 was held by the 1996 team (coached by Al Costabile) that went to the Super Bowl before losing to Hull to finish 11-1.

Woods also coached three other teams that scored more than 300 points. The 1999 Super Bowl winner posted 340 points in a 12-0 season, and the teams from Bobby Tarr’s junior (300 points in 2006) and senior (314 points in 2007) years.

The core group of players from this year’s club also registered a school-record 16-game win streak dating back to last year.

Individually, senior Nick Bona shattered his own season record for tackles by recording 218 this fall. For his career, Bona totaled 498 tackles; no other player in school history has ever reached 300.

Woods wouldn’t say that this Super Bowl title was any more satisfying than championships his teams won in 1999 and 2000, but it might be more memorable because of the way this year’s Crusaders did it.

“I don’t know if I’d say it was sweeter, but it’s more impressive in my mind,” Woods said.

The other team in Fenwick history that deserves to be in the conversation is the 1965 team that was the Class C state champions. That team was especially dominant on the defensive side of the ball, where it routinely held the opposition to less than 100 yards rushing in an era when teams didn’t throw the ball often.

No matter how many more times Fenwick advances to and wins Super Bowl titles, this year’s team will always have to be considered among the best — if not the premier team in program history.

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This senior class has really made its mark on the Fenwick program. In fact, it helped bring Crusader football back to the top of the heap in the Catholic Central League.

As freshmen, Bona and Charlie Maistrellis each started as defensive backs while players like Eric Razney, Charlie St. Pierre, James Traversy and Tommy Parsons started making their presence felt as sophomores.

Fenwick had back-to-back 3-8 seasons in 2010 and 2011 before turning the corner last year with an 8-3 mark. The Crusaders believed they could have captured the league title last fall and made it a mission ever since to win a Super Bowl.

“We turned this program around,” Razney, a wide receiver/cornerback, said after Fenwick shut out Northbridge. “We couldn’t have asked for anything better. I’m sad to see it go, but I’m glad how it ended. There’s no more high school football (for us) ever again, but it is awesome.”

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Razney and Maistrellis each finished their careers with some impressive receiving stats. Razney finished with 63 catches for 1,062 yards and 13 touchdowns, while Maistrellis grabbed 52 passes for 985 yards and nine scores.

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Speaking of statistics, perhaps no one in Fenwick history has been more productive than junior running back Rufus Rushins. So far through three seasons, Rushins has 519 carries for 3,793 yards, plus 51 touchdowns. The aforementioned Tarr, Fenwick’s record-breaking running back, entered his senior year having carried the ball 336 times for 3,032 yards and 38 touchdowns.

It would take a big season, but Tarr’s record of 5,601 rushing yards is not out of reach for Rushins. The Lynn native needs 1,808 yards to tie Tarr.

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Two things that will always stand out from Fenwick’s win over Northbridge have to be the way the offensive line handled the Rams’ beef up front, and how the Crusader defense just shut down a team that was supposed to be dangerous running and passing. Northbridge had very little luck doing either.

Offensive linemen Charlie St. Pierre, Justice Andrade, Tyler Kaufman, David Hurley and Brandon DeBerardinis played arguably their best game of the season.

Defensively, the Crusaders took the challenge of defending sophomore quarterback Koby Schofer personally. Fenwick’s defensive backs — Razney, Maistrellis, Parsons and Matt Renzulli — wanted to make their mark on the game.

“They challenged our secondary in the paper,” Maistrellis said. “They all said it would come down to us and I think we proved a lot of people wrong. They were saying it was going to come down to the Fenwick secondary and how their quarterback makes things happen. All game I think we shut him down perfectly.”