By Dave Dyer
LAWRENCE — Central Catholic proved that there is strength in numbers last night.
In the first round of the Division 1 North playoffs, Lexington showed some tremendous offensive talent and held leads of 7-0 and 14-6 in the first quarter. But the Minutemen just couldn’t keep pace with the depth-strong Raiders.
Central got touchdowns from six different players, rushed for 361 yards and had six players catch passes as junior QB Mike Milano threw for 210 yards and the Raiders pulled away in what turned out to be a 60-28 blowout.
“We do have depth in our skill positions and I think you saw that tonight,’ said Central coach Chuck Adamopoulos. “I thought our offensive line play was very good and I think we wore them down.”
Milano got the Raiders’ offensive fireworks started on their first play from scrimmage when he unleashed a 69-yard bomb to Cody Demers for a TD. He would finish with two touchdowns through the air with 10 completions in 15 attempts.
In addition to the athletic Demers, Ryan Etter caught three passes for 46 yards and Jonathan Parsons had two catches for 54 yards and a touchdown.
“I don’t really have a specific receiver and I have confidence in every guy,” said Milano, who also rushed for a TD and gained 80 yards on 12 carries. “The start of the game wasn’t the way we wanted, but I think every aspect of our game was effective.”
But while Milano was effective through the air, it was Central’s punishing ground game that beat up the Minutemen.
Trailing 14-6, Central scored four of the next five touchdowns, all on the ground. Markus Edmunds scored three times, including on a 47-yard burst right through the middle, and Mike Balsamo scored once.
Both Edmunds (106) and Balsamo (102) gained more than 100 yards.
Although shaky at times early, Central’s defense stiffened in the second half, allowing just one touchdown and three first downs in the final two quarters. After Lexington scored the opening TD of the second half on a 26-yard strike to ultra-skilled Rhett Adley to make the score 33-28, the Raiders scored four straight times to make it a romp.
Nick Boes led the way on defense, intercepting two screen passes and making two ferocious tackles from his middle linebacker slot and Balsamo (7 tackles) also had a pick. All three interceptions led to touchdowns.
Boes also shifted to offense late in the game and scored on a four-yard run.
The Raiders now advance to the Division 1 semifinals next Friday, also at home, against Acton-Boxboro.
Central 60, Lexington 28
Lexington (3-5): 14 7 7 0 — 28
Central Catholic (7-1): 12 21 14 13 — 60
L — Jeff Costello 13 run (Costello kick), 10:00
CC — Cody Demers 69 pass from Mike Milano (kick failed), 9:47
L — Alexander Huff recovered blocked punt in end zone (Costello kick), 5:35
CC — Markus Edmunds 5 run (run failed), 1:58
CC — Mike Balsamo 5 run (Paul Karamaourtopoulos kick), 10:37
L — Rhett Adley 50 pass from Costello (Costello kick), 9:56
CC — Edmunds 47 run (Karamourtopoulos kick), 7:49
CC — Edmunds 1 run (Karamourtopoulos kick), 1:30
L — Adley 26 pass from Costello (Costello kick), 7:45
CC — Milano 3 run (Karamourtopoulos kick), 4:33
CC — D’Andre Drummond-Mayrie 14 run (Karamourtopoulos kick), 0:51
CC — Jonathan Parsons 20 pass from Milano (Karamourtopoulos kick), 8:52
CC — Nick Boes 4 run (pass failed), 4:51
RUSHING: CC (53-362) — Mike Balsamo 14-102, Mike Milano 12-80, Markus Edmunds 11-106, D’Andre Drummond-Mayrie 3-21, Nick Boes 5-26, Dan Wilson 1-6, Cody Demers 1-(-3), others 6-24; L (13-62) — Jeff Costello 6-31, Dan Johnson 3-15, Rhett Adley 1-7, Mike Fernandes 3-9
PASSING: CC — Milano 10-15-1, 210; L — Costello 13-28-3, 252
RECEIVING: CC — Jonathan Parsons 2-54, Ryan Etter 3-46, Balsamo 1-17, Cam Manning 1-15, Cody Demers 2-68, Paul Karamourtopoulos 1-12; L — Adley 7-165, Shawn Phelan 2-43, Connor Murphy 2-54, Harry O’Neill 2-20