By Chris Wraight, Contributing Writer
Leominster – The St. John's High School Pioneers traveled to Leominster's Doyle Field to face the Leominster High School Blue Devils? Nov. 15 for the Central Mass. Division 2 football title game. ?In their most recent meeting in September Leominster prevailed 33-12, which continued a Leominster winning streak stretching back four prior games, including two Super Bowls.
The Blue Devils started up where they left off, with Matt Blanchs scoring on a one-yard run (James Gurley point-after kick) for a 7-0 lead after the first quarter.
In the second quarter, the game exploded with the Pioneers’ quarterback Drew Smiley scoring on a five-yard run (point-after run failed). ?Leominster's Blanchs answered right back on a two-yard run (point-after run failed). ?St. John's’ Dan Crowley then scored on an 11-yard pass from Smiley (two-point conversion by Shane Combs). ?St. John's's Jack Coveney next kicked a field goal for three points.
On the ensuing kickoff, the Blue Devils’ Mayson Williams ran the kickoff back 81 yards (point-after run failed) and it appeared they would take the momentum into the half but with less than a minute on the clock the Pioneers drove and scored on a Combs one-yard run (Coveney point-after kick) to take a 24-20 lead into the locker room.
In the second half, St. John's picked right up where it left off with Nick Calvano taking a seven-yard pass from Smiley (point-after kick by Coveney). Leominster's James Gurley scored on a nine-yard run (Neil O’Connor point-after run). ?Then St. John's Michael McGillicuddy scored on a 70-yard pass play from Smiley (point-after kick blocked). ?Leominster's Williams ran it in from one-yard out (point-after run failed) to make the score after three quarters 37-28 in St. John's’ favor.
The Pioneers’ Smiley scored on a one-yard run (point after kick by Coveney) in the fourth quarter with Leominster's Jake Allain hauling in a pass from O’Connor and running 75- yards (point-after run failed). ?St. John's answered right back with Smiley scoring again on a 69-yard run from scrimmage (point-after Coveney kick).
With the clock running out Leominster's last chance was squashed as St. John's’ Smiley made a key interception and the Pioneers won 51-42 to take the title, the first for head coach John Andreoli.
St. John's heads next to the State semi-final where they will face Springfield Central High School.