LOWELL — When the entire Bishop Fenwick football team gathered in a circle and waited for their coaches to talk to them after Friday night’s victory, there was one name buzzing in the air:
With their 48-6 win over Greater Lowell Tech on Friday, the Crusaders locked themselves into the Division 6 North Final with a chance to avenge last season’s soul-crushing defeat to Stoneham in the playoffs. But, in order to get to Stoneham, Fenwick had to get through the team and game that was right in front of them.
Logic dictates that winning a playoff game on the road in sub-freezing temperatures isn’t supposed to be an easy task; it’s a good thing that Bishop Fenwick didn’t take this into account before dominating the hosts from start to finish.
"The team was great," said Fenwick head coach Dave Woods. "When they play defense like that — and we've been telling them all year — if we play defense the way we're capable, we're tough to beat."
After the first quarter was over, the Crusaders were only up one possession on the hosts with the score sitting at 14-6. Fenwick’s first scoring drive, thanks to an electrifying punt return from Angel Martinez, was only eight yards long with David Cifuentes punching home a one-yard touchdown on third-and-goal.
Fenwick’s second scoring drive lasted just two plays as Chrys Wilson beautifully led a streaking Angel Martinez (3 catches, 88 yards, 1 TD) over the middle of the field for a 75-yard catch-and-run score.
Greater Lowell Tech, on the other hand, managed to put together a 10-play, 60-yard drive that ended with a 16-yard Benji Hach touchdown.
In other words, the game was certainly not decided in the first 12 minutes. But the next 12 minutes? Those minutes left no doubt whatsoever. Bishop Fenwick, and Wilson especially, were not playing around.
Across the second frame, Wilson accounted for four Crusader touchdowns and 27 points, sealing the contest while punching Fenwick’s ticket to the Division 6 North Finals before the game even hit halftime.
Wilson first hit a wide-open Stefano Fabiano (3 catches, 70 yards, 2 TDs) on 3rd down for a 25-yard touchdown with 11:13 remaining in the quarter. Two plays later, Fenwick’s Andrew Wilson intercepted Greater Lowell’s Jacob Trzcienski when his pass was tipped up into the air and into Wilson’s outstretched arms, before returning it all the way to the Gryphons’ 35-yard line.
On the second play following that interception, Wilson kept a read option for himself up the middle, fooling the entire Greater Lowell defense for an all-too-easy 12-yard touchdown run. Then, Greater Lowell, once again, threw another interception on the drive’s first play as Fabiano snagged a second tipped pass, returning it inside the 10-yard line. Two plays later, Wilson hit David Cifuentes on a five-yard swing pass out of the backfield for his third passing touchdown of the game with 10:34 left in the second quarter.
In just one minute and 26 seconds, Fenwick bombarded the scoreboard with 21 points. The score went from 14-6 to 35-6 in the blink of an eye and, just like that, the game was all-but-over. Greater Lowell Tech never even knew what hit them.
“We’ve faced some adversity this year. The BC High game (a 24-7 loss) and then Cardinal Spellman, that was a tough game to lose in overtime (a 26-20 loss)," said Woods. "I really think since then, we’ve beat Archbishop Williams 35-6, and the same last week (35-0 over Ipswich) and now this week ... so I think they’ve faced that adversity and they’ve bounced back from it pretty well."
As Bishop Fenwick moves on to the North Final, they will finally meet their familiar foe, Stoneham. There is no doubt that the North championship will be a battle from beginning to end. With a defense that forced five turnovers Friday night and has given up only six points over two playoff games to go along with their dynamic, high-powered offense, it would seem the Crusaders truly are eager to avenge last year’s season-ending loss.
"We’re ready for a full four quarters and 48 minutes next week," said Woods.