SOMERVILLE - Lowell Catholic hasn't been here before, competing for the league title. In fact, the football program hasn't won five games in a season since 2004, when it finished 5-5.
The Crusaders equaled that win total yesterday by squeaking by Matignon, 12-6, at Dilboy Field. The win over the Warriors elevated Lowell Catholic to 3-0 in the Catholic Central, the best record in the league.
The team's 11 seniors, who have accounted for all but two touchdowns this season, led the way.
"A lot of them have been in the program now four years, so they've been on the losing side," said coach Tim Walsh. "[Now] they've experienced winning. They like that and they want to continue to do that."
Lowell Catholic shot out of the gate. Tailback Cornelius Moore returned the opening kickoff 79 yards for a touchdown.
Matignon was also stung last week on special teams when Marian's Miguel Ortiz scored on an 83-yard punt return in a 7-0 victory over the the Warriors.
"Two weeks in a row, special teams did us in," Matignon coach Neil Valeriani said.
Unlike last week, the Warriors put points on the board. Leading the fight to get back in the game was rough and tumble tailback Davidson Peguera.
The senior bruised his way to 111 yards on 23 carries, leaving a wake of defensive players behind him, and caught the tying pass from quarterback Tom Tracey.
The pass found Peguera at the line of scrimmage. The tailback stiff-armed one defender, broke a tackle, then lowered a shoulder to muscle it past the goal line for a 22-yard score, evening the game at 6-6 before the end of the third quarter.
While Peguera never seems concerned with throwing a shoulder or forearm into the facemask of a defender, he occasionally worries his coach.
"Sometimes I wish he would run away from people," Valeriani said.
Peguera, an accomplished pitcher for Matignon's baseball team and a gifted swimmer, was counted on by Valeriani to shoulder the load with the absence of star running back Cam Ortiz, who is out for the season with a torn anterior cruciate ligament. "He was splitting [carries] with Cam and now he's had to take a full-time role," Valeriani said.
Moore, also a multi-sport athlete, would play the starring role yesterday. Walsh described his tailback as an "outstanding" basketball player who wants the ball in pressure situations. It's no different on the gridiron.
In the midst of a fourth-quarter drive, Moore exited with a twisted ankle and shortness of breath. Two plays later, he stepped back in to put a hurt on the Warriors.
Moore took a carry around left end untouched for a winning 6-yard touchdown. Moore ran 20 times for 91 yards - 74 in the second half.
"He's a gamer," Walsh said. "Even though he's physically getting tired, he'll rise above that at the end of the game."
For a team that has failed to reach a Super Bowl in the 36 years they've been played, Walsh sees a quality that has never existed.
"I thought the kids played like champions today," Walsh said. "We had a little adversity and the kids overcame that.
"That's what [being] champions is all about."