By Tyler Amaral
FOXBOROUGH — St. John’s Prep relied on a dominant defensive effort to derail the high-flying Springfield Central offense and capture the Division 1 state championship, 13-0.
For the Eagles, it’s their third state championship in four seasons, excluding the 2020 COVID Fall II season.
Springfield Central (10-2) came into Saturday’s game averaging a shade under 52 points per game. Against in-state opponents, the Golden Eagles were undefeated and hadn’t won a game by less than 34 points.
“We worked hard all week in practice,” said star safety and Georgia commit Joenel Aguero. “(The coaches) broke everything down and taught us what we were supposed to do to beat this team and we obviously had better athletes.”
St. John’s Prep (11-2) forced numerous three and outs in the game and never allowed the explosive Golden Eagles offense to get in gear. Central quarterback, William Watson, a Nebraska-commit was held to 6 of 19 passing for only 49 yards in the driving rain.
The Eagles defense brought the energy early. On the game’s first possession, Central went three and out. St. John’s Prep defensive back Marquese Avery came up with a huge sack on Watson on third down.
On the next defensive possession, Avery recovered a Central fumble.
St. John’s Prep was unable to capitalize on the short field after the recovery as Central’s Bryce Gentry-Warrick came through the middle to block a St. John’s Prep field goal.
On St. John’s Prep third trip inside the red zone, with just under six minutes left in the first half, quarterback Aidan Driscoll connected with Aguero on a screen pass for the game’s first score. Jackson Selby kicked in the extra point.
In the second half, St. John’s Prep leaned on its offensive line and running back Carson Browne to complement the defense. Browne scored the Eagles second touchdown of the game in the third quarter to extend the lead to 13. Browne also had a 51-yard touchdown negated by a holding penalty.
Springfield Central coach Bill Watson would not let the pouring rain be an excuse for his team. “This was a Super Bowl game in New England. A New England championship in New England weather. When you get to this, you gotta be able to push people around up front and run the football. I thought they beat us up front. They were a little more physical than we were. We couldn’t sustain drives on the ground and we didn’t execute on third down in the pass game enough to sustain any drives. I thought that was the difference in the game.”
Watson and Aguero are not only two of the best players in come through the state in recent memory, but are also close friends.
“Me and (Watson) have known each other since the fifth grade. Ever since that he became my brother. I love that boy,” Aguero said. “That’s my brother and I’ll forever love him but you know we just had to take that W out here today.”