WEYMOUTH — On a snowy and wet night with a combined 10 fumbles, no one was more surehanded than Madison Park's Alexis Santiago.
“We had to bring out the heart, it’s all about heart and pride,” the senior said after recovering two key fumbles in an 18-6 victory against Bristol-Plymouth that sent the Cardinals to their first Super Bowl since 1998.
The tone of the Division 4A semifinal game at Weymouth High was set from the first play when Santiago recovered a B-P fumble.
Each team fumbled five times. B-P (5-7) lost two fumbles and Madison Park (8-4) lost only one.
With 7:15 left in the half, Santiago recovered the Craftsmen’s second lost fumble before going on to rush for a 5-yard touchdown run eight plays later. Despite an unsuccessful pass attempt on the 2-point conversion, the Cardinals still took a 12-0 lead at the half.
“We just had to get used to the way the ball was,” Santiago said. “It was really wet, so it took us time to get used to it.”
The victory came after Madison Park lost to Dorchester and then to O’Bryant on Thanksgiving. After B-P upset Blue Hills on Thanksgiving, it seemed that it would be the team to move on to the Super Bowl at Gillette Stadium at 9 a.m. Saturday. But the Cardinals had surprises in store.
“The last two games we didn’t play with any desire,” Santiago said. “We came out at this game and we knew what we had to do individually and as a team.”
Santiago said that the difference between their last two losses and Tuesday night was that they committed a lot of penalties against Dorchester and O’Bryant.
“We knew coming into this game what we had to do. We couldn’t have too many miscues or too many penalties.
“I think last game we had 135 yards in penalties – we can’t have that.”
Madison Park will play Cathedral, which beat North Shore Tech, 30-14.
“It will be amazing, it will be a new experience, said Santiago. "I’ve never been there. Personally, it’s going to be my first time.”
Santiago is confident that the Cardinals will pull together for Madison Park’s first Super Bowl win to cap off his senior year.
“It will be historic, something to hang my hat on,” he said. “They’ve never had one before, so it will be something really awesome to have our first Super Bowl.”
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