Every week, The Boston Globe's Mike Carraggi expands on a story that was lost in the shuffle of a busy weekend in Division 1 football. This week: Catholic Memorial's quest to continue its hot play into the Catholic Conference.
If league games are the only gauge to measure a team's overall success, then this year's edition of Catholic Memorial is no better than 2009's last-place squad. Of course, from coach Alex Campea's perspective, that isn't the case.
Last year the 5-5 Knights went winless against the Catholic Conference, finishing fifth. This season, CM is two weeks away from opening up league play, though this time sitting pretty at 4-0 and possessing the No. 7 spot in the recent Boston.com Top 100.
“Nonleague games matter all the time,” said Campea. “You want win as many as you can because you work real hard for that one game, one opportunity (to play).”
CM posted a 5-1 record against nonleague opponents last year, so a hot start isn't anything new. But the lone loss came against one of the top teams in New Hampshire, Bishop Guertin, just one of 20 straight victories Guertin notched before the Knights broke that streak last Saturday with a 26-14 win.
“They are a good team and they handed it to us pretty good last season,” said Campea, whose team lost to Guertin 52-13 last year. “People ask if this was payback, but we played the game with a lot of emotion because the kids were looking to say that we are not as bad as last year.”
Not only is CM “not bad,” it is emerging as a potential contender in the Catholic Conference. Armed with an explosive offense led by quarterback A.J. Doyle (eight touchdown passes) and receiver Armani Reeves (seven touchdowns), both juniors, the Knights are one of only two teams in Division 1 averaging more than 30 points. Doyle and Reeves hooked up for scores three times in the Guertin win, while William Earl got it going on the ground to the tune of 112 yards on just 16 carries.
“I think that both AJ and Armani work real hard,” said Campea. “But there are a lot of guys who work hard here. They are good players that want to be great players.”
Before breaking Guertin's win streak, the Knights handed previously 4-0 and top Vermont team Hartford its first loss of the season. Next week, it's 3-1 CMass power Longmeadow's turn to try and derail the CM express.
“The schedule just ends up being the luck of the draw,” said Campea. “It's tough in the Catholic Conference when you only have four league games. Each team is playing whomever they can to get on the schedule, so they can get their 10 or 11 games.”
So far, the long distance scheduling has paid off.
“Both teams came in undefeated, one had to leave with a loss,' he said. “I'm glad it wasn't us.”
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