MEDFORD — Scampering downfield for a big gainer Saturday afternoon at Hormel Stadium, Bishop Fenwick quarterback Steven Woods got tangled up with the down judge near the left sideline and almost knocked him over as he fought for additional yardage.
But neither the guys wearing the stripes, nor host Arlington Catholic, could slow down the Crusaders on this day. In their Catholic Central League opener, they ran for 272 yards and saw Woods throw for another 148 in a 48-7 annihilation of the Cougars.
Now 2-0 on the season, Fenwick still has many players starting for the first time after graduating so many standouts from their unbeaten Fall 2 squad this past spring. So while as a whole they remain a work in progress, head coach David Woods loves the work ethic, commitment and drive to better themselves they show him on a daily basis.
“What I think has been really good about these guys — and the coaches have tried to reinforce it — is that they’re not living on the laurels of last year’s team. They know it’s totally their team now, and that they have to earn everything and really work for it,” said Woods. “Talent and experience-wise, we know we’re certainly not last year’s team. But these guys want to carve out their own identity by working hard and striving to get better.”
Fenwick shot out to a 21-0 lead late in the first quarter by scoring on each of its first three possessions. An interception on the game’s third play by Costa Beechin set up fellow senior Chris Faraca’s 21-yard touchdown reception from Woods.
Troy Irizarry (91 yards rushing) then scored twice: a 1-yard plunge over right tackle, and a 41-yard jaunt up the gut on 3rd-and-1 after Arlington Catholic had stacked the box but couldn’t hold at the point of attack.
“Troy’s one of those kids who worked his butt off all summer. I’m talking worked and worked and worked,” said Woods. “He’s tough to tackle.”
Woods, one of Fenwick’s few offense players with varsity experience, had a game-high 118 yards on the ground while running Fenwick’s read option with expert precision. The southpaw called his own number from a yard out to make it 28-7 just before the break.
“It’s good having Steven back there because he understands everything we’re trying to do,” said his father. “He’s good at directing things.”
The Crusaders then broke the contest open in the third. They went 80 yards in nine plays to start things off after halftime as Beechin took a draw play 25 yards to paydirt for a 35-7 edge. An inside handoff on its next drive resulted in Irizarry’s third score, a 2-yard plunge, and sophomore Luke Connolly got in on the fun with a 13-yard scoring jaunt on the final play of the quarter.
When it went to running time at that point (after the Crusaders took a 40-point lead), the boys from Margin Street held a 19-3 advantage in first downs as well as a 23:31 to 9:40 edge in time of possession.
William Gibbs, a 6-foot-1, 285-pound returning left guard, anchored the Fenwick offensive line along with first-year starters Pat Carroll at right guard, Luke Coleman at left tackle, Nick Caputo at center and tight end Mike DiFelice. In addition, tight end Aidan Breen replaced injured Jonathan Hinnant in the first quarter at right tackle and did a fine job.
Jason Romans, a athletically gifted senior who played football as a sophomore, turned to golf but decided to come back to the gridiron this season, made his season debut by grabbing four passes from Woods for a game-high 64 yards. You’d have to think his game script will only increase with each passing week as he gets more and more comfortable in the offense once more.
Aidan Silva kicked six extra points for the winners, which also got an interception from Breen and sacks from DiFelice, Faraca, Jacob Vargus and Kurtis Bruch.
Fenwick returns home to Donaldson Field Friday night to take on another CCL foe in Austin Prep.