Recap: No. 14 Xaverian 20, No. 1 Everett 8

EVERETT, Mass. – One would have thought Xaverian’s offense would be behind the 8-ball entering Friday night’s showdown with No. 1 Everett. Without starting running back (and linebacker) Shayne Kaminski in the lineup, lost to a leg injury suffered during a scrimmage last week, the Hawks were playing without perhaps their best athlete.

No sweat.

Junior quarterback Jake Farrell was nearly perfect in the passing game, while junior Noah Sorrento (15 carries, 98 yards) picked up the slack in the backfield as the No. 14 Hawks surged past the top-ranked Crimson Tide during the second half in a 20-8 win.

With the victory, Xaverian (1-0) ended Everett’s 10-game winning streak against Catholic Conference foes and, in the process, started 2013with bang for a squad coming of a sub-.500 2012 campaign.

“It’s a huge statement for everybody on our team,” said Farrell, who started the game going 9-for-9 in completions, a streak extending into the third quarter. “We showed we can beat one of the elite teams in Massachusetts, and people are going to know about this.”

Sorrento, who worked in two-back sets with Kaminski throughout the preseason, set the Hawks off in the right direction with a 12-yard touchdown in the first quarter.

Xaverian would maintain the 7-0 lead until 4:13 remaining in the half, when Everett quarterback Raheem Wingard (149 rushing yards) broke off a 29-yard touchdown on an option keeper. Although the point-after try was blocked, an offsides penalty against Xaverian gave the Crimson Tide (1-1) another crack. Another yard closer, Marquis Holman ran in the 2-point conversion over left guard.

The scoring drive was enabled by a fourth-down stand by Everett’s defense at their 40-yard line.

The Crimson Tide’s one-point lead stood until the fourth quarter, when another crucial fourth-down decision from the Xaverian sideline would come into play.

Facing a fourth-and-11 at the Everett 25, and with a little more than eight minutes remaining, the Hawks broke huddle looking for something special. When the play broke down around Farrell, he improvised and took off toward the end zone. Twenty-five yards later, the first-year starter scored what would prove to be the game-winning touchdown.

After the Hawks defense came away with another key fourth-down stop on the ensuing Everett possession, Farrell capped his evening with a perfectly thrown 23-yard fade to D.J. Sperzel for an insurance strike.

“It was just reading the quarterback,” Sperzel said. “I knew I had the receiver in front of me and broke on the ball.”

“We felt like that was the time to take a shot,” Hawks head coach Charlie Stevenson said. “He went up and got it, and Jake put it right where he needed to.”

For added measure, Sperzel closed out the special evening with an interception of Wingard on the following drive.

Shuffling the deck: While Kaminski’s absence forced Stevenson to alter his offensive game plan, the Hawks still played to their strengths.

“We lose a lot of firepower without Kaminski in the backfield,” Steveson added. “But I thought Noah Sorrento did an unbelievable job.”

Also key to the victory was the play of Xaverian’s offensive line. Anchored by senior captain Jeff Perez, the line created holes ample for any running back to walk through.

“If we block like that and Shayne’s with us, I think we’ll be OK as we go forward,” Stevenson said.

They also drew rave reviews from their quarterback.

“The O-line was excellent,” Farrell said. “I had a ton of time to throw and the receivers just ran good routes. They made it easy for me.”

Work in progress: Meanwhile, after a sloppy Week 1 win over another Top 10 foe in Springfield Central and Friday night’s loss, Crimson Tide head coach John DiBiaso was less than enthused with his team’s work thus far.

“There were no positives,” DiBiaso said of Friday’s loss. “They kicked our butts up and down the field, in every aspect of the game – special teams, offense, defense.

“We didn’t play well, we didn’t execute.”