LAWRENCE, Mass. -– In last night's Division 1 North semifinal between Central Catholic and Acton-Boxborough both teams turned the ball over four times. Central was the only one who capitalized.
The Raiders turned a pair of A-B turnovers into 14 points and stomped the Colonials 35-0 to earn a berth in next weekend's D1 North final against Everett.
The Raiders fumbled the ball five times and lost four, the defense stepped up and held A-B each time. The Colonials were unable to break into Central's red zone until the last possession of the game and that ended with a Hunter Arnold pass getting intercepted in the end zone by Nick Boes. It was Boes' second interception of the game and fourth of the playoffs.
Boes and Markus Edmunds led the Central attack from the middle and turned Acton's rock-hard offense into a gravel pit. The Raiders held the Colonials to 143 yards.
“Normally five fumbles spells doom,” Central coach Chuck Adamopoulos said. “Each time we turned the ball over the defense picked us up and did the job.
“[Markus is] one of the best linebackers around; he really is. Every week we does what you saw tonight. He's our leader, but Nick Boes has played really well. The guys up front have been doing the job. We rotate guys in at defensive line and our nose guard, George Elias, has really come on. To shut out a team like that the defense played really well.”
Central quarterback Mike Milano had a rough game early, fumbling the ball away twice in just over 11 minutes, but he buckled down and piloted the offense to 341 yards. Milano went 8-for-12 for 161 yards. His 57-yard touchdown pass to Dan Wilson early in the third quarter put the Raiders up 28-0 and salted the game away.
Milano also rushed for 75 yards and Central's third touchdown, just before the half.
“I had a lot of misreads, and fumbles, today, and my teammates picked me right back up,” Milano said. “We just kept our composure, stayed confident and played hard.”
In the trenches you have to get dirty, and Central's line did just that. The Raiders' line was able to open hole and the bevy of tailbacks to get into the secondary untouched.
Their shining moment came when they opened up a nearly five-yard hole for D'Andre Drummond-Mayrie, who ran 50 yards, untouched, for his second touchdown.
“If look at those touchdowns [there were] huge gaping holes,” Drummond-Mayrie said. “They had a huge game.”
Keyed by senior Joe Brown, the line on both sides staked their claim to the real estate early and never sold.
“Our offensive line, the last few weeks, has really played well,” Adamopoulos said. “I think they're starting to come into their own.”
The MIAA this season has been lucky enough to have seen it's share of spectacular kick returns, and Cody Demers added one of his own in the second quarter.
Demers fielded the ball at his own 40-yard line, run over the near hash, stuttered and cut in the middle of a pack of defenders, and ran all the way home. The score broke a scoreless deadlock early in the second quarter.
“I caught the ball and went up to the middle of the field, and I had so many good blocks I kind of froze up,” Demers said. “I wanted to make a move somewhere and I just saw daylight and went for it. Incredibly momentum booster for our team.”
Demers also intercepted a pass in the second quarter, and reeled in three balls for 44 yards receiving.
BRING ON THE CHAMP
Everett. In the world of MIAA football everyone knows it as a synonym for dominance and success. The Crimson Tide are up next for Central Catholic, and the Raiders said they are ready to embrace the challenge.
Adamopoulos said that playing such a formidable schedule thus far, even going back to include scrimmages against Reading, Xaverian, and Mansfield, will help his team next weekend.
“We've got a huge test next week,” Adamopoulos said. “They're a great program, and it's going to be exciting to play them.”
“They've had a history of being great,” Demers said. “If you want to be the king you've got to be the king."