St. Mary’s High School played four quarters of inspired, championship-caliber football but couldn’t overtake an undefeated Abington squad, falling to the Green Wave, 14-8, in the Division 4 Super Bowl before a large crowd Saturday at Curry College in Milton.
The Spartans’ defensive unit, led by All-Scholastic end Andres Rodriguez and junior tackle Rodolfo Jimenez, limited the Green Wave to their lowest point total of the season and kept the South Shore League champions off the scoreboard in the second half.
Coach Matt Durgin’s Catholic Central League Large champions looked poised to reach the end zone often when they scored on their first possession. Sophomore running back John Gaeta raced 52 yards to provide the biggest play of the drive. Jordan Collier scored from one yard out and rushed for the two-point conversion to give the Spartans a quick 8-0 lead.
Abington (13-0), who boasted a trio of explosive running backs, answered with two touchdowns and a conversion in the first half to take a 14-8 lead to intermission.
St. Mary’s, whose running game had been basically unstoppable during the regular season and in the playoff win over Shawsheen, went to the air route in the second half and quarterback Jake Cassidy produced some clutch passes.
“We decided to open it up a little in the second half,” said coach Matt Durgin.
Abington coach Jim Kelliher said he was surprised when the Spartans swayed from its traditional attack.
“I was a little bit surprised when they went up top because they are basically a running team and in the previous game [versus Shawsheen] they didn’t even throw one pass,” said Kelliher.
Cassidy helped lead the Spartans to the Abington 29-yard line but the drive stalled. After a short punt by Abington, St. Mary’s had great field position at the Green Wave 40-yard line. Collier, who had a phenomenal junior season for the Spartans, picked up 20 yards on three rushes to help place the ball at the Abington 15-yard line.
The Spartans coaches then made a great offensive call, catching the Abington defense off guard by throwing the ball on first down. Jordan Manthorne, one of the many standouts during St. Mary’s march to the title, ran a precise Waggle pattern and found the seam in the Abington defense. Cassidy delivered an accurate pass to the wide-open receiver in the end zone but an Abington player was able to knock the ball out of Manthorne’s hands.
“I told Jordan that without him we wouldn’t have been in the Super Bowl playing for the championship,” said Durgin. “It’s not just one play. There were a couple of things here and there. We’re all in this together. We played against an excellent football team and we were right there. We just came up a little short.”
Abington’s Joe Brady ended St. Mary’s bid for the game-tying score when he intercepted a third-down pass. The Green Wave ran out on the clock to claim the victory.
St. Mary’s finished its outstanding season with an 11-2 record.
“I want the players to really understand what they accomplished,” said Durgin. “Their efforts all season were unbelievable. It’s going to hurt but they’re still league champions. We came up just a little short.”
St. Mary’s Principal Carl DiMaiti congratulated the football program on a very successful season.
“It was a fabulous season and I was a little bit surprised and I shouldn’t have been because they the right combination of a great work ethic, talent, and most importantly great coaching,” said DiMaiti. “They played a great game Saturday. There were two evenly matched teams battling it out in the best tradition of MIAA playoff action.”