By David Willis
LAWRENCE — After catching the punt and breaking up field, Cody Demers faced a crucial decision.
“I looked around and I saw so many holes open in front of me,” said the Central Catholic senior with a smile. “I had to decide which spot to go. So I just ran towards daylight.”
Following a sloppy first quarter with no scoring, Demers took that punt and raced back 62 yards for a touchdown that gave Central the lead.
From there, it was all Raiders all the time as Central dominated Acton-Boxboro on both sides of the ball en route to a 35-0 drubbing in the Division 1 North semifinals. The victory sends the Raiders to the Division 1 North Final, where they will take on top-seeded Everett. The vaunted Crimson Tide have won three straight EMass. Super bowls and nine since 1992.
“We are so pumped,” said Central defensive back/running back D’Andre Drummond-Mayrie. “I haven’t played Everett since Pop Warner, so that’s exciting. It’s going to be a tough game but we feel like we can win.”
It hardly looked like a blowout early as Central punted twice and fumbled the ball away once on its first quarter possessions. But everything changed when Demers took the punt back for a score.
“Cody is a clutch player,” said Drummond-Mayrie. “Big players make big plays in big games and that was huge. It really sparked us.”
Two plays after that score, senior linebacker Nick Boes made his first of two interceptions of the day, and three plays later Drummond-Mayrie marched in from 21 yards out for his first score of the day.
Central continued to pour it on from there, as just one play into Acton-Boxboro’s next drive Demers picked off QB Hunter Arnold and Central closed out the half with a Mike Milano 4-yard touchdown.
“We felt very prepared for this game,” said Boes. “Cam actually got his hands on the tight end and that allowed me to jump the route on my first pick. On the second, I think the safeties were a little ticked I took it away from them. But they’ll get over it. We did a good job in coverage.”
The second half was no better for the Colonials as Milano hit Dan Wilson for a 39-yard touchdown on the Raiders’ first play of the third and Drummond-Mayrie took his fourth carry of the game for a 50-yard touchdown. From there the backups took over. Central limited Acton-Boxboro to just two first downs through three quarters, led by linebackers Markus Edmunds (14 tackles) and Boes. Lineman Robert Kfoury added eight key stops and Jonathan Parsons and Patrick Dziedzic also handed out some punishment.
The Raiders know they now face a daunting task against an Everett squad that beat Lowell 21-0 last night and is now 8-1.
“We know they are a great team so we will have to play our best to win,” said Demers. “But we can’t wait to play them.”
Central Catholic 35, Acton-Boxboro 0
Division 1 North Semifinal
Acton-Boxboro (7-2): 0 0 0 0 — 0
Central Catholic (8-1): 0 22 13 0 — 35
CC — Cody Demers 62 punt return (Paul Karamourtopoulos kick), 8:34
CC — D’Andre Drummond-Mayrie 21 run (Karamourtopoulos kick), 5:56
CC — Mike Milano 4 run (Markus Edmunds run), 0:22
CC — Dan Wilson 39 pass from Milano (pass failed), 9:49
CC — Drummond-Mayrie 50 run (Karamourtopoulos kick), 6:42
RUSHING: CC (29-223) — D’Andre Drummond-Mayrie 4-74, Mike Milano 8-55, Mike Balsamo 7-46, Markus Edmunds 4-13, Blades Shields 3-12, Robert Fitzgerald 1-15, Nick Boes 1-4, Omar Deschamps 1-4; AB (32-95) — Gabriel Cormier 7-22
PASSING: CC — Milano 9-13-0, 142; AB — Hunter Arnold 5-20-3, 54
RECEIVING: CC — Dan Wilson 2-56, Cody Demers 3-48, Greg Marggraf 2-30, Paul Karamourtopoulos 2-8; AB — Cormier 2-24, James Kelly 2-25, William Tejada 1-5