LYNN — Holding your arch rivals to 88 yards of total offense on their home turf and a grand total of five first downs — three of which came on the game's opening drive — is bound to leave your football team feeling good.
"Beating them feels like Christmas morning," said Bishop Fenwick safety Jake Miano, whose team put the clamps down on St. Mary's of Lynn Saturday night at Manning Field, also using 133 yards rushing and three scores from David Cifuentes to prevail, 20-0, in a Catholic Central League Large showdown.
The visiting Crusaders allowed just two yards of offense to St. Mary's in the third quarter and 14 total for the second half, suffocating the Spartans' double wing attack by filling the gaps quickly and getting to the ballcarrier at or before the line of scrimmage.
That defense, consisting of tackles Sonny Gosselin and Dan McGrath, ends Matt Juneau and Ethan Gonzalez, linebackers Chrys and Andrew Wilson along with Joe Rivers, cornerbacks Angel Martinez and Cifuentes, and safeties Jake Connolly and Miano, watched a lot of film leading up to this contest, said head coach David Woods, and they clearly committed what they saw worked on film to memory.
"Against that offense, it takes all 11 guys to shut it down. Everyone has to do their job, and we really stressed that this week," said Woods. "It's a tough offense, so you really have to play physical and really disciplined. We did a great job reading our keys and attacking the areas we're supposed to."
Fenwick has given up just 27 points in five games thus far: 14 in the first half and 13 over the final two quarters. At the same time, they've piled up a combined 173 points.
Cifuentes, who netted all 20 of his team's points (including a 2-point conversion rush), echoed his coach's sentiments.
"We wanted 11 guys to the ball, everyone sprinting to it on every play," he noted. "That's how you stop their offense."
The 5-foot-10, 190-pound Cifuentes, who recently moved to Danvers, increased his team-leading totals to 446 rushing yards and 10 touchdowns.
Fenwick opened the second half by going 55 yards to paydirt over a dozen plays, with Cifuentes going untouched between left tackle and left guard from a yard out. His ensuing 2-point run made it 14-0 for the visitors.
His final score, a 3-yard run around left end out of a Power-1 set, came with 7:46 to go and essentially sealed Fenwick's fifth win of the season in as many contests.
"Our lineman did a terrific job," Cifuentes. "St. Mary's couldn't get me in the backfield because our guys kept pushing them back."
Cifuentes had opened the scoring as well, hitting paydirt on a 4-yard run off left tackle on the first play of the second quarter. The key play in that sequence was a 50-yard pass play up the left sideline from sophomore quarterback Jason Romans to junior Jake Connolly, which put the ball on the Spartans' 15-yard line. Three plays later, Cifuentes crashed his way into the end zone.
"The great thing about our team is that (opponents) have no idea who to cover with all the weapons we have," said Miano, a 17-year-old from Salem. "We have a ton of speed guys like David and Angel and Joe and Tucker (Destino) and Jake Connolly and our QBs ... we're tough to stop."
Woods calls it a luxury that he can plug in Destino, a hard charging junior, in as the team's 'third' back to give Cifuentes and Rivers a breather, as he did on the team's final touchdown march. Destino ground out 28 yards on five totes before Cifuentes came in and finished off the drive.
The veteran head coach also noted this was the first time that Romans and Chrys Wilson (who caught two passes for 31 yards) hadn't alternated at quarterback, and that was by design. "We decided Jason would get all the reps this week; we felt we needed some consistency at practice," he said. "We'll probably go back to using both guys next week."
One area Fenwick will be looking to clean up prior to Friday's home game against Division 1 power BC High: penalties. The Crusaders were whistled for 7 infractions for 70 yards Saturday night.
St. Mary's (now 2-2) got 69 of its yards from sophomore George Percy of Marblehead. The sophomore was a workhorse, carrying the football 22 times while also catching a 20-yard pass from quarterback Derek O'Leary, a senior from Salem. In addition, fellow senior Alec Colacitti of Peabody had one of the Spartans' two interceptions.