The BC High football team is off to an impressive 7-0 start, but, to a certain extent, the season starts all over again Friday when the Eagles host Malden Catholic in their first Catholic Conference game of the season. The Eagles close out the season with four conference games, including crucial back-to-back matchups at Xaverian (Nov. 4), and home against St. John's Prep (Nov. 10).
"That's really how we look at it," said head coach Ron St. George. "I like the way we've played the first two months, but now we've got everybody in the conference, and we're looking forward to the challenge."
It's been a smooth transition for St. George, who is in his second season at BC High after coaching at East Bridgewater for 23 years. It was a bold move, considering St. George guided the Vikings to nine South Shore League titles and five Super Bowl appearances. He was twice named Globe Coach of the Year in 1990 and 1994.
"Quite honestly, at this stage of my career, I was looking for a new challenge," said St. George. "I just felt that there wasn't anywhere to go but down at East Bridgewater. We had been very successful with league titles and Super Bowl appearances."
Still, St. George was not exactly itching to get out. He was very happy at East Bridgewater, and turned down other opportunities to leave throughout his stay. When Jim Cotter stepped down after 41 years at BC High, St. George knew it was time to make a move.
"I always said that if I were to leave East Bridgewater, it would have to be a special opportunity, and BC High happened to present that," said St. George. "I'm really enjoying it. Those of us who can't play, coach. You just never lose that competitive spirit. It's been a great change."
The only difficult part about the move has been, well, the move.
"There are always adjustments to be made when you switch jobs," said St. George, who resides on the South Shore. "I think the biggest change for me has been the commute. Not knowing the faculty is also an adjustment."
St. George has spent time around the campus trying to get to know the teachers and students.
"It's been an easy transition," said St. George. "I've adjusted to the culture of the school. It's been everything I thought it would be. They are just outstanding young men."
BC High was not exactly in a rebuilding situation, and had even been to the Super Bowl in 1999 and 2000. Still, a change in coaching staffs also meant a change in systems. St. George has the Eagles employing the wing-T offense.
"The kids have adjusted to the system," said St. George. "They are more reactive this year. They're not thinking as much."
The only drawback this season has been injuries. Senior captain Brian Merrigan injured his shoulder in the season opener when he landed awkwardly while diving for an interception. He would miss the next four games, and just as he returned, the Eagles lost another senior captain in running back Liam Regan. The leading scorer in Division 1 sustained a serious leg injury while blocking during an extra-point attempt against Medford on Oct. 13th.
It was a brutal scene, as the entire BC High sideline took a knee, and the fans in the stands fell silent, while Regan was helped off the field. The Eagles would go on to win, 39-0, but the injury to Regan put a damper on the evening.
“It knocked the kids for a loop,” said St. George after the game. “You don’t know how hard he had worked all year to have the year he was having. He's an even better leader than he is a football player. The kids absolutely love him.”
The Eagles bounced back with a 34-13 win over Westfield last Saturday. Running backs Brian Sullivan and Kyle Ewanouski helped fill the void left by Regan's injury. Although unable to suit up, Regan continues to play a role on the team.
"He's like a manager out there," said St. George. "He's just such a positive leader and influence still."
St. George knows all too well how resilient kids can be. Back in 1994, his East Bridgewater squad was expected to have another solid year, but mere days before the start of preseason, the team's starting tailback was killed in a motorcycle accident. The Vikings carried on with heavy hearts, and managed yet another South Shore League crown, and a trip to the Super Bowl. St. George was later named Globe Coach of the Year for the second time in four years.
It's been that experience that allows St. George to keep the potential season-ending injury to Regan in perspective.
"We'll dedicate the rest of the season to him," said St. George after Regan was injured. "The good news is he will play football again, whether it's for BC High, or in college."