By Matt Jenkins
PEABODY — No matter what happens, only one game remains for the Bishop Fenwick football team.
The way the Crusaders see it, they might as well make it as memorable as possible.
Undefeated Bishop Fenwick (12-0) heads to Foxborough’s Gillette Stadium tonight (8 p.m.) to take on 10-2 Northbridge in the Division 5 Super Bowl. The Rams are the final obstacle for Fenwick, which has a large group of talented, hungry seniors bent on finishing what they started.
“This week of practice was as good as we’ve had all year. They have great mental focus and are enjoying the moment at the same time,” Fenwick head coach Dave Woods said earlier this week. “They’re coming to the realization that they only have one more game together. We’re lucky enough to get it at Gillette, but there won’t be anything left on the field.”
Woods and the Crusaders have made it a habit to not overlook any team on their schedule this season, and the same tactic applies for this contest. Fenwick can’t raise the trophy without going through Northbridge first, and doing that is not going to be easy.
“We know they’re a good team,” senior captain and wide receiver/linebacker James Traversey said. “We’ve watched film and they’re equally good in the running game as well as the passing game. We have to go in there with a full head of steam and play better than any game we’ve played so far.”
Northbridge head coach Ken LaChapelle has been at the helm of the Rams’ program for 38 years and has won more than 300 career games. This season, his team is relatively young, playing several sophomores, but are dangerous.
The Rams, especially sophomore quarterback Koby Schofer, can beat defenses running or throwing the ball, which presents an interesting challenge for Fenwick. The Crusaders have primarily matched up with teams focused on running the ball, so pass defense could loom large.
Schofer has both run and thrown for over 1,000 yards. He had the space and time to do so thanks to a big, physical offensive line led by seniors Tom Tabur, Connor Gatto and Zach Livingston, who each stand taller than 6 feet and weigh close to 300 pounds.
Sophomores Jake Wood and Michael Quinn can also run the ball for Northbridge, and Chandler Brooks is one of Schofer’s favorite targets.
All things considered, it seems like the key for Fenwick could rest in the defensive backfield and the offensive line.
Defensive backs Tommy Parsons, Eric Razney, Charlie Maistrellis and Matt Renzulli are a capable crew. In fact, Parsons is one of the team’s most underrated players, Renzulli leads his club in interceptions, and Razney and Maistrellis are both capable of turning a mistake into a big play the other way.
Fenwick’s offensive line — Tyler Kaufman, Charlie St. Pierre, Justice Andrade, Brandon DeBerardinis and David Hurley — has been good all year, and their squad will need another strong effort from this crew to reach its ultimate goal.
“I think they deserve more credit than they get,” Traversey said of Fenwick’s O-line. “They give it their all every single play, driving people. Because we have such great skill players they’re overlooked, but without them we wouldn’t have the running game we have — and the running game opens up our passing game.
“They set the tone for the offense. If they come out flat, we come out flat. If they come out firing, so are we and we’re going to score.”
Fenwick’s great skill players — Razney, Maistrellis, senior quarterback Nick Bona and junior running back Rufus Rushins, in particular — encourage the offensive line to do its job.
“I feel like, as an offensive line, if we didn’t block those guys would still get yards. But if we block, they’re getting touchdowns,” St. Pierre said. “Nick’s getting 2-3 touchdowns every game; same with Rufus. Seeing these guys and how hard they work, it just pushes us and makes us want to block even harder.”
Many of Fenwick’s seniors have been starting since either freshman or sophomore year, so Woods is confident that this team hasn’t lost sight of its goal.
The Crusaders are prepared for a battle tonight.
“They have a great offensive line, they’re huge up front and the QB makes their offense go,” Woods said of Northbridge. “They have great schemes. They do different things to keep you on your toes on defense. It’s going to be a chess game on defense and we’ll have to adjust on the fly.
“There’s not one team that doesn’t deserve to be playing now. They’re here for a reason; they’ve been the class of Central Mass. for a long time.”
Finding a way to beat a program as strong as Northbridge for a Super Bowl title would be the perfect way for this Fenwick senior class to go out.
“This will be my last game ever. I want to make sure it’s something I can remember, something positive. I don’t want any regrets,” Traversey said.
“It’s kind of bittersweet. I don’t want it to end. I love being out here practicing and just to know that after (the Super Bowl) I’m never putting pads on again, never playing with my brothers. It’s definitely a feeling you don’t want to have; it hurts. But if I had to end it one way, this is definitely the way I’d want it to be.”