DANVERS — Before his team played its first Catholic Conference game of the season Saturday, St. John’s Prep football coach Jim O’Leary broke a long-standing tradition when his captains presented the game ball before the game began, as opposed to afterwards.
In this instance, though, it was a perfectly touching gesture.
O’Leary had his captains give the game ball to the two daughters of fallen Peabody firefighter Jim Rice, a former St. John’s Prep athlete who was killed in the line of duty last December. The ball was then used in the game and signed by all the players before being returned to the Rice family.
O’Leary’s team then went out and delivered a big win, 28-6, over Catholic Memorial at Cronin Field. Both Jon Thomas and Alex Moore ran for over 100 yards in the victory, with Thomas rushing for 147 to go over the 1,000-yard mark for the season. In seven games he now has 1,071 yards; he also caught a pass for a touchdown Saturday.
Moore picked up 108 yards on a dozen carries, including three touchdown runs to bring his season total to 682 rushing yards with 10 TDs.
“The coaches do a good job splitting up the carries between me and Johnny,” Moore said. “Our offensive line did a great job, and Johnny is a big help coming out of the backfield and blocking for me.
“This was a big win for us after the bye. The coaches kept us mentally and physically prepared; we were ready to go today.”
The Eagles (6-1) wasted little time jumping out to a 7-0 lead, going 62 yards in seven plays on the game’s opening drive. The key play was a 30-yard pass from Jack Sharrio to Lucas Bavaro, and Moore crashed in from a yard out six plays later. Steve Camarro tacked on the first of his four extra points.