CAMBRIDGE - The question with Buckingham Browne & Nichols wideout Jimmy McCaffrey is never whether he'll get on track. It's only a matter of time.
Lawrence Academy was the latest team to find out, as McCaffrey hauled in the winning fourth-quarter touchdown pass, delivered a bruising hit in the flat on the ensuing drive, and picked up the game-ending interception as the Knights downed the Spartans, 20-13, to take the ISL championship last night at Russell Field.
"We had tried running the play a few times before, but I had been getting jammed off the line," said the junior from Winchester of the winning play. McCaffrey had three catches for 61 yards and finished the regular season with more than 40 yards per return.
Little hyperbole was needed for both teams. This matchup was initially scheduled for September but was postponed after two Lawrence players were involved in a car accident. Mark Frattaroli died Sept. 29 of head injuries sustained in the accident, and Zach Phillips is still in critical condition. A moment of silence was held after Lawrence's player introductions, and Frattaroli's No. 44 is worn as a pride sticker on each helmet.
BB&Ns Zach McLeod, who suffered a stroke in September, watched the game from the weight room overlooking the field, in his wheelchair. About a half-dozen bare-chested BB&N students had McLeod's No. 16 painted on their backs.
Coach John Papas said the team saw McLeod at halftime as the players were walking into the locker rooms, and drew inspiration from it.
"[McLeod] is getting better and better," Papas said. "I challenged the kids at halftime to play with more intensity. I firmly think seeing Zach in a wheelchair was definitely motivational for them."
BB&N (8-0) got on the scoreboard first with a 53-yard run by Steven Grassa (14 carries, 124 yards). After BB&N went ahead, 13-7, in the third quarter on two field goals by Phillippe Panico, the Spartans (7-1) tied it at the start of the fourth with a 46-yard strike from Charlie Loeb to Denzel Brito (six catches, 72 yards).
Later in the fourth, BB&N forced Lawrence into a three-and-out deep in its territory; a punt gave the Knights the ball at the Spartans' 37, and on the first play quarterback Mike DiChiara hit McCaffrey in single coverage on a fade down the right sideline.