Eagles return winner
BC High kicks into high gear
CHELMSFORD - BC High seniors Preston Cooper and Gordon McLeod waited side by side for the opening kickoff, both eager to break into the open field.
McLeod tracked down the ball at the 17-yard line and took off for an 83-yard touchdown return, but Cooper wanted a share of the action, too.
Four drives later, with his team leading, 14-6, the speedy Cooper took a kick to the house for 82 yards to help No. 5 BC High beat No. 14 Chelmsford, 35-14, last night.
“Once you know that you’re into the open field, it’s the best feeling ever,” Cooper said. “Me and [McLeod] always joke around in practice that if he gets one, I’m going to get one. And he got one and I told him I was going to get one next time.”
McLeod said that he was happy to help his team get off to a fast start after the Eagles lost to DePaul Catholic (N.J.), 49-35, last Friday.
“I was going to let [Cooper] get that, but I just took it and had a hole and I was ready,” McLeod said. “But I couldn’t do it without my blockers - they were a big key on that return.
“Last week we had great returns, but we never returned them [all the way] and [Cooper] came up big [last night] on the second one.’’
After McLeod’s score, senior quarterback Bartley Regan delivered a 10-yard strike to senior Jameson McShea to give the Eagles (2-1) a 14-0 lead.
Chelmsford (2-1) answered in the second quarter when senior quarterback Colby Emanouil hit fullback Matt Rabbito for a 1-yard score, but Cooper’s kick return halted the Lions’ momentum.
A Chelmsford fumble was recovered by senior defensive end Adam Richard that set up an 8-yard score by Cooper to give the Eagles a comfortable 28-6 lead with 7:33 remaining in the first half.
“Preston is a special player,” BC High coach Jon Bartlett said. “He’s a playmaker and you’ve got to get him the football, whether it’s kick returns, handoffs, or in the pass route. He’s got to touch the ball.”
Cooper carried the ball 19 times for 103 yards.
Chelmsford chipped away at the Eagles’ lead when running back Eddie Sheridan (17 carries, 105 yards) ran for a 4-yard score in the third quarter with 4:22 to play.
But after forcing BC High to punt on the next drive, Chelmsford failed to score. The Eagles orchestrated a nine-play drive that lasted for 5:54, which ended with a 6-yard score by senior fullback Luke Catarius.
Cooper carried the ball six times for 43 yards to keep the clock running.
“[Cooper] added some weight this year, so he can take the pounding a little bit better than last year,” Bartlett said.
“That drive was all about guts, wearing the clock down, moving the chains and punching it in.
“Our first series offensively wasn’t great, so that was an important drive and the O-line did a great job.”
BC High will face another New Jersey team, this time welcoming St. Peter’s Prep to its home turf next Saturday at 1 p.m.
Bartlett said that despite the victory last night, the team still has a lot to work on to prepare for next week and the team from Jersey City.
“[Sheridan] is tough, he’s a real good back and we had to tackle him and lock up and we didn’t do a great job with that tonight,” Bartlett said. “That’s the stuff that we had to work on.
“We did a better job than last weekend, but we have to get better at tackling.”