WESTWOOD, Mass. – Let there be no doubt who’s No. 1.
At least for another week, that is.
For the third straight week to begin the MIAA football season, the No. 1 team in ESPN Boston’s Top 25 poll suffered a sound defeat. This time, on Saturday in the grand unveiling of the extensive renovations to Xaverian’s Hawk Bowl, Bridgewater-Raynham became the most recent squad to be dethroned.
No. 10 Xaverian systematically beat the Trojans in each and every facet of the game, administering a 49-13 beat-down of yet another No. 1.
It also marked the second straight week in which the Hawks (2-0) beat the poll No. 1 after a road victory at Everett last week.
“Playing two No. 1 teams, that’s what we aim to do here,” Hawks senior running back/ linebacker Shayne Kaminski said. “There are high expectations at this school. Playing a No. 1, it’s just a whole different situation – that just gets you pumped up for the game.”
Kaminski, who missed Xaverian’s opener due to injury, celebrated his return to game action with a 31-yard touchdown run at 5:02 of the first quarter, providing the Hawks with an early 7-0 lead.
On B-R’s ensuing possession, Kaminski also announced his return, defensively, falling on a fumble created on a strip-sack from defensive end Joe Gaziano. Two plays later, fellow running back Noah Sorrento rumbled in from 13 yards out for a quick two-score lead.
However, the Trojans (2-1) would respond on their next possession with Matt Clement hitting Ryan Martin in tight coverage for a 29-yard touchdown pass.
After the teams exchanged a couple of fruitless drives, the Hawks began pulling away just before the half – thanks to quarterback Jake Farrell and senior wideout A.J. King.
Inside the final two minutes of the first half, Farrell and King linked up for two quick-strike passing plays. First, King came down with a ball, despite bracketed coverage, and raced 62 yards for a score. Then, with two seconds remaining, Hawks head coach Charlie Stevenson eschewed taking the knee and, instead, dialed up a dazzling 47-yard connection with Farrell hitting King in stride along the left-hand sideline on a fly route.
And the Hawks took a 28-6 lead to the locker room.
Xaverian’s special teams had their chance to shine in the third quarter, when the Hawks blocked two punt attempts with one turned for a touchdown and another setting up a first-and-goal situation.
After B-R’s opening drive of the second half sputtered out, Gaziano got his mitts on a punt, allowing freshman Mekhi Henderson to pick up an easy scoop and score from 30 yards out.
Then, following a Trojans’ three-and-out, Xaverian sophomore lineman Elijah Pierre registered a second block. B-R’s recovery set up the Hawks at the Trojans’ 2, setting up Kaminski (10 carries, 138 yards) for his second of three rushing scores.
Kaminski later added a 54-yard run, providing the Hawks with a 49-6 lead.
“I felt like every guy today wanted to get in there and make a contribution,” Kaminski said, “And we did that.”
Run differential: Aside from some padded stats B-R tacked on once the game was out of reach, Xaverian lopsidedly won the battle of the rushing attacks.
While holding Trojans preseason All-State running back Brandon Gallagher under 40 yards rushing for the game, the Hawks consistently dominated the point of attack against a depleted B-R offensive line.
“We really did a good job of stopping their run, I thought,” Stevenson said. “[Gallagher] is tough and I was really worried about us being able to match up with him and stop him.”
Meanwhile, the Hawks’ offensive line continued to create holes. And, with the additional shot in the arm Kaminski injected along with Sorrento, Xaverian’s off and running.
Star in the making: During the preseason, Stevenson highlighted freshman cornerback Mehki Henderson as a player to watch as the year progressed.
But, through two weeks, it appears as though Henderson is coming along just fine.
The 5-foot-9, 170-pounder showed good instincts undercutting a route to the end zone pylon and snatched his first interception at the end of the second quarter. The pick helped set up the Hawks’ last-minute drive at the half.
That was before Henderson also snatched up six points with his second-half punt block return for touchdown.
“He’s a really good athlete,” Stevenson said of Henderson. “He’s young and a little inexperienced, but I think he’s going to be a good player.”