FOXBORO — Mike Milano thought back to the days as a youngster, sitting in front of the TV and watching the Patriots make history at Gillette Stadium.
He thought of the blazing hot August practices that seemed as if they would never end, and of the thrilling victories and the devastating losses he and his teammates had experienced.
The dreams he dreamt those days, the greatest of aspirations he and his Central Catholic family hoped to one day achieve, all became a reality yesterday.
“Every dream you had as a kid (is) of playing and winning at Gillette Stadium,” said the overjoyed Milano. “The dreams we had all year and for the last three years, through the hardest times. They all came true.”
Central Catholic made Gillette Stadium its home last night, surging to the MIAA Division 1 Super Bowl title with a convincing 34-17 victory over South Champion Xaverian.
“I honestly couldn’t wish for anything else,” said co-captain D’Andre Drummond-Mayrie. “I was talking with some people about how winning this would be the greatest Christmas present ever. I would give up all my presents for this, to be the first true Massachusetts Division 1 champion. Just amazing.”
The victory marks the first Super Bowl crown for Central Catholic since winning back-to-back crowns in 1997-98.
“This is a dream place,” said linebacker Markus Edmunds. “This is where all my favorite players play, and today we accomplished our dream. And I don’t even know if it’s sunk in yet. I think I will wake up in the morning and think, ‘Wow, we are the best team in Division 1.’”
The Raiders wasted no time making a statement. On their first drive of the game, Milano connected with Cam Manning on an 18-yard touchdown in which the tight end leapt into the air to grab the ball and landed in the end zone.
Junior Blades Shields then turned in a huge play soon after, blocking a punt to set up Drummond-Mayrie’s first touchdown of the day to make it 13-0.
“When we blocked that punt, it was huge,” said co-captain Cody Demers. “That was a great play by Blades, then when D’Andre broke that touchdown it was a huge boost.”
Central picked up another key special teams play soon after, when a Xaverian player touched a punt, making it a live ball, and Gavin Anderson tore the ball out of his hands to give the Raiders the ball back. Drummond-Mayrie then added another score to make it 20-10 at halftime.
Drummond-Mayrie then punched in his third score, and Central was leading 27-10 after three.
“After the third score, when that put us up by three scores, I really started to feel like we could do it,” said Drummond-Mayrie. “But Xaverian is a tough team and they made it a game.”
A turnover and Xaverian touchdown early in the fourth cut the lead to just 27-17.
But the dynamic Demers gave his tremendous season an exclamation point to clinch the victory.
“I ran a wheel route,” said Demers, who also played a terrific game on defense. “Their defensive back (A.J. King) gave me a good jam off the line. He had great coverage and got a hand on the ball.”
Demers broke behind King and Milano threw him a spot-on pass, but the defensive back managed to reach in for a deflection. The football then bounced off Demers’ facemask, and the star receiver was somehow able to maintain his composure and secure it in his hands for a touchdown.
“That was crazy,” said Drummond-Mayrie. “Cody made that amazing touchdown, and we looked up at the clock and we knew it was over.”
Soon after, the Raiders poured onto the field in celebration, hugging anyone in sight before all collapsing onto the Patriots’ logo at the 50-yard line in an overjoyed pile.
All that was left was to climb the steps to the makeshift stage to receive their Super Bowl trophy.
“Everything we worked for, all the hard times, were all worth it now,” said Demers. “Unbelievable. There is no better way to end my career at Central than this. This is better than I could have imagined.”
Central Catholic 34, Xaverian 17
Division 1 Super Bowl
Xaverian (10-2): 0 10 0 7 — 17
Central Catholic (11-1): 13 7 7 7 — 34
CC — Cam Manning 18 pass from Mike Milano (Paul Karamourtopoulis kick)
CC — D’Andre Drummond-Mayrie 8 run (kick failed)
X — Noah Sorrento 10 run (Joe Gaziano kick)
CC — Drummond-Mayrie 52 run (Karamourtopoulis kick)
X — Joe Gaziano 30 field goal
CC — Drummond-Mayrie 13 run (Karamourtopoulis kick)
X — A.J. King 22 pass from Jake Farrell (Gaziano kick)
CC — Cody Demers 19 pass from Milano (Karamourtopoulis kick)
RUSHING: CC (33-215) — D’Andre Drummond-Mayrie 12-119, Markus Edmunds 5-64, Mike Balsamo 4-19, Mike Milano 9-10, Cody Demers 3-3; X (29-122) — Jake Farrell 10-47, Noah Sorrento 12-48, Andrew King 3-18, Kenneth Kern 4-9
PASSING: CC — Milano 6-13-1, 81; X — Farrell 6-19-1, 80
RECEIVING: CC — Demers 3-56, Cam Manning 18, Karamourtopoulos 2-7; X — King 5-71, Coby Tippett 1-9