BROCKTON, Mass. – The biggest developments to come out of Saturday’s annual preseason meeting between No. 19 St. John’s of Shrewsbury and No. 7 Brockton came on the injury front, with a preseason All-Stater getting roughed up, along with a heart-dropping moment.
Here’s a look at the morning’s proceedings from Marciano Stadium:
Big blows?: Several injuries to Brockton starters marred the start to the Boxers’ 2015 season.
First, ESPN Boston preseason All-State running back Kerry Raymond was lost to an ankle injury on the first series and sat out the rest of the morning.
“He tweaked his ankle,” Boxers head coach Peter Colombo said. “I was ambivalent about even playing him today. It’s one of those things, this is football and passing league is over. This is real football.”
In addition to working without 6-foot-1, 220-pound tight end and linebacker Marcus Bullard, who was also out with an ankle issue, Brockton encountered a real scare when senior offensive tackle/ tight end and defensive end Ben Cowart was shaken up with an apparent neck injury during the teams’ second series.
Action was stopped for more than 15 minutes as training staff and paramedics attended to Cowart on the field. He was taken to the hospital for evaluation after giving the assembled crowd a thumbs-up while being stretchered off the field.
“We wanted to be precautionary with him, so it always looks worse,” Colombo said of the 6-foot-3, 230-pound returning starter. “He had full strength in his upper extremities and he was moving everything.”
Getting a look in: The most pressing question for the Boxers coming into the season on offense is who will emerge at quarterback.
With Aaron Williams graduated, senior Mike Kilroy is the leading candidate to take the starting job, after making two starts for the Boxers late last season. But also keep a tab on sophomore Junior Monteiro, who figures to be a playmaker for the Boxers whether at quarterback or at wide receiver.
“He’s a hell of an athlete, so he needs to be on the field,” Colombo said. “I know he wants to be the quarterback, and that might be inevitable. But in the meantime, he might serve us well in other spots.”
Monteiro took second-team snaps under center, but looked like a seasoned pass-catcher alongside dynamic junior Dominic Simpson.
Meanwhile, Kilroy led the Boxers’ first-team offense on a scoring drive in their first possession.
“Mike’s not flashy, or going to make long runs on you, but he’s very efficient in our offense,” Colombo said. “He does things well. He knows where to go with the ball. He was 2-0 last year in starts and that’s because he does what he needs to do.
“He gives us a senior, stabilizing factor of somebody who’s been in our program for four years.”
Pioneers start with a flash: The Pioneers didn’t run their offense with quite the tempo they play with during regular-season games, but head coach John Andreoli had to be impressed with the showing his team made in the ground game.
St. John’s scored on its first series, led by senior quarterback Tim Cassidy and senior running back Travis Terry, and looked sharp in the ground game. Both looked in sync working in the Pioneers’ zone read running scheme, with the offensive line, anchored by Boston College commit Sean Ragan, getting good push upfield.
For Terry, it’s an important preseason window, as he’s coming off of knee surgery, and it’s an encouraging early sign.
“He ran really hard,” Andreoli said of Terry’s performance. “Mac-Brian[Nkgonchu] ran hard, Peter Oliver ran hard. They all had a good day.”
He added, “Timmy ran the ball real well. I think his footwork improved tremendously in the offseason and he ran hard today.”
Focus on LBs: The preseason scrimmages will also be a proving ground for St. John’s linebacking corps.
Andreoli’s looking to fill a couple of starting jobs entering the season and is looking at a couple of sophomores in Isaiah Keegan (5-11, 206 lbs.) and Liam Doran (6-0, 195 lbs.) potentially to fill those roles.
Even for the most experienced returning linebacker, the preseason will be a litmus test, as starting “SAM” linebacker Jack Fields returns from an injury that cost him most of the 2014 season.
Andreoli said Saturday’s work was a step in the right direction.
“We saw a lot of good things today,” Andreoli said. “I think our physicality is where we wanted it to be, along with our effort running to the football. Offensively, I think we did a pretty good job, with the exception of a couple penalties we need to work on. But there were a lot of good things we can build on."