(written, shot, edited and narrated for Somerville Patch)
Somerville High’s football team had no answer for Xaverian Brothers High School Saturday afternoon in Westwood, getting shut out, 35-0, and gaining less than 100 total yards. The Highlanders crossed midfield just once and totaled 2 rushing yards in 10 carries.
“We took a step backwards,” Somerville coach Harry Marchetti said. “We didn’t step up to the challenge of the competition.”
With a nonexistent running game Saturday, the Highlanders’ relied heavily on sophomore Phoenix Huertas’ passing arm, and at first the strategy worked. Huertas led the Highlanders from their 17-yard line to the 50, hitting sophomore Manasse Beaucicaut with an accurate 20-yard floater.
That drive ended, however, when Huertas overthrew his receivers and Xaverian Brothers junior DJ Pagliuca intercepted the pass.
The Hawks needed just one play to score, with quarterback Austin DeCarr faking the run, then pitching to junior Mike Brennan on the option play. Brennan slipped through the Highlander defensive line, then burst past the secondary all the way to the end zone. One play, one 49-yard touchdown run.
The Highlanders went back to the pass to start their second drive, but the results were almost identical: Pagliuca got his hands on a Huertas pass, and Hawk teammate Peter White hauled it in.
Just like the previous drive, the Hawks scored on one play. DeCarr floated a pass to the two-way playing Pagliuca after he had slipped behind the Highlander defensive backs. Once again Somerville High could not catch the Xaverian Brothers speedy receivers, and Pagliuca took it the rest of the 32 yards for another touchdown. Pagliuca added a 58-yard touchdown reception in the second quarter to put the Hawks up 27-0.
The Highlanders struggled to stick with the Hawks’ receivers, but they had even more trouble with the running game, giving up 180 yards Saturday and an average 9 yards per carry. DeCarr himself proved a difficult runner to contain, picking up 20 yards on the Hawks’ third drive (after a Highlander three-and-out), but it was junior Hunter Taute who chewed up the final 7 yards for their third score of the quarter.
The Highlanders defense finally stepped up once the Hawks went up 20-0, stopping the Hawks twice on fourth down, but the offense managed just one first down over its next three possessions.
The Hawks ran seven running and nine passing plays with their starters in the first half, gaining 200 yards to the Highlanders’ 34.
“We always try to be a balanced offensive attack, so that we can run, we can spread the field via the option, we can throw the ball” Xaverian Brothers coach Charlie Stevenson said. “Our goal all the time as an offense is, not necessarily to run equal amounts, we probably were a little more balanced that way today, but to be able to do all those things when we need to. And today, we were definitely able to do that.”
With the game well in hand, Xaverian Brothers used second-stringers throughout the second half, relying exclusively on the run game. The Highlanders’ tiny silver lining Saturday was a scoreless third quarter, helped out by a fumble recovery by senior Stanley Georges and a combined sack by Carlven Gervais and Micalo Simon. Three plays later, however, the Xaverian Brothers running game prevailed: Shayne Kaminski barreled and dragged his way to a 5-yard touchdown run and a 34-0 lead to start the fourth quarter.
The Highlanders finally looked like they might put points on the board in their final drive. Huertas connected for three passes of 10-plus yards in the fourth, finding Devon Hairston once and James Marin twice for 43 combined yards.
“Our young kids are the ones, they didn’t back down,” Marchetti said. “They stepped up. James Marin, he’s a sophomore. Phoenix is a sophomore. He’s getting tagged out there, he stayed in the pocket, he threw the ball to people.”
Unfortunately, a bad snap rolled well behind Huertas. Instead of throwing the ball away, Huertas lost 24 yards on his second sack of the game. And on the next play, Huertas threw his fourth interception.
“The receiver didn’t break on the ball, and he threw it to a spot,” Marchetti said, adding: “He’s a little banged up, and he showed a lot of character and toughness just suiting up and playing the whole game.”
With the win, the Hawks improved to 4-0 this season. The Highlanders still have not won.