WEST ROXBURY, Mass. -- A.J. Doyle looked across the line of scrimmage early in the second quarter of tonight's battle with New Hampshire power Bishop Guertin, and saw the outside linebackers creeping up.
"They're coming! They're coming!" screamed an assortment of his Catholic Memorial teammates and coaches from the sidelines. Doyle adjusted accordingly so, shortening up to a three-step drop and slinging a laser to the right slot, right into chest of John Gorman, who then sprinted 59 yards to paydirt and the game's initial lead.
For the No. 8 Knights, it was that kind of stuff all night. The Cardinals threw some aggressive defensive packages, and CM responded with its most valuable export -- speed, and a whole lot of it in the form of junior athlete Armani Reeves. The highly-regarded junior totaled 193 all-purpose yards on returns, receptions and carries, and had three scores to carry the Knights to a 26-14 win, avenging last season's 52-13 beatdown at the hands of the Nashua, N.H. school.
With the win, the Knights (4-0) also ended Guertin's 20-game win streak.
Greeting reporters following the win, CM head coach Alex Campea clutched his hand on the shoulder of Reeves and patted him, with an ear-to-ear grin.
"This guy can make it happen, this guy can make it happen," he beamed. "Listen, we have some good players, and tonight in a big game they shone through -- making big catches, big plays, offensively and defensively. But I'm glad we have him. He competes every snap of every game."
And just what does a win like this do for the much-hyped program's profile?
"It gives us alot of motivation headed into the Catholic Conference and our other schools," said Reeves, who currently holds offers from Penn State, Wake Forest, UConn and UMass. "We wanted to come out and show that we are a caliber team, that we can play with anybody around here. And it was a good motivation for us and ourselves, because alot of people say we're not there yet, we're not close, we can't beat those other teams.
"But we just showed that we can compete with any team out there. It was a good statement for us as a team."
The Cardinals marched all the way to the Knights' five yard line on the game's opening drive, but quarterback Steve Cuipa was tripped up by his own man coming out of the snap, causing a fumble that CM's Dimitri Claude covered up. After CM capitalized with the game's opening score to Gorman, Guertin fired back with another long drive. Aided a by a pass interference call on third and 18 that spotted the ball on the CM five with first and goal, Cuipa scored from three yards out on third down, gliding around the right with ease on an option keeper.
The Knights promptly responded in the form of Reeves. First, he returned the ensuing kickoff 40 yards to give the Knights the ball at the Guertin 45. Then, after moving the chains behind draws from Will Earl (13 carries, 93 yards) and a 22-yard Josh Charles catch, Reeves punched it in from five yards out. Taking a Doyle flare pass at the right sideline, he cut up and bulldozed through two defenders, falling over the near pylon to make it 12-7 with 22 seconds to go in the first half.
Reeves picked it up again with a 75-yard punt return for a touchdown midway through the third, bursting through a seam at the right hashmark and spinning through an armtackle from the punter en route to paydirt.
"I saw my guy push a guy to the outside, and then I saw two linemen and I'm like 'Oh, this is it'," Reeves said. "The punter made a good effort, but it wasn't good enough. I got past him, and it was a good team effort...it was alot of blocks that the team made, an extra effort. All-around, that was a pretty good effort."
Ahead 19-14 with 4:30 to go in the game, Doyle called Reeves' number again for a score. On third and 22 from the Cardinals' 25, Doyle scrambled out of an armtackle, rolled left and lobbed it to the near left pylon, where Reeves easily grabbed the jump ball.
Guertin head coach Tony Johnson came away disappointed with the result -- "It upsets us to no end, we did not play very well," he said -- and commended Reeves' speed while shouldering some of the blame.
"He's a very, very good back. He's very elusive," Johnson said. "Quite frankly, I thought we did a very good job containing him -- you need to contain him -- (but) I thought we did a very poor job tackling, and I thought we did a very poor job in third down situations. We just gave them too many third down situations."
CATHOLIC MEMORIAL 26, BISHOP GUERTIN (N.H.) 14
BG 0 7 7 0 --- 14
CM 0 12 7 7 --- 26
C - John Gorman 59 pass from A.J. Doyle (run failed) 10:07
B - Steve Cuipa 3 run (Ryan Card kick) 2:05
C - Armani Reeves 5 pass from Doyle (run failed) 0:22
C - Reeves 75 punt return (Tom Byrne kick) 5:38
B - Alex Eaton 1 run (Card kick) 2:12
C - Reeves 25 pass from Doyle (Byrne kick) 4:37