Prep football program in hands of Saint

St. John's Prep football coach Brian St. Pierre earned his first career victory on Saturday. Rose Raymond photo.

His football team readying to host the Division 1 Super Bowl Champion Central Catholic on Saturday, it’s clear to see that Brian St. Pierre paid attention to his predecessor.

“We’re just hoping to keep it close,” the former Steeler/Raven/Cardinal/Panther backup QB, now 2-0 in his fledgling first season as head coach St. John’s Prep, stated coyly.

“You see them on film," he said, "and they absolutely scare you.”

Georgetown’s St. Pierre replaced his former head coach, Jim O’Leary, this fall at the Prep, taking a position in the school’s alumni office as well.

The former Boston College great spent eight years in the NFL — four in Pittsburgh, one in Baltimore, two in Arizona and one at Carolina.

“I’m loving it. I mean, being 2-0 helps, too, but this has all been very enjoyable,” said St. Pierre, who quarterbacked what many feel is the greatest high school football team in Bay State history, the 1997 Eagles.

“I had opportunities to coach in college and in the NFL. But having lived that life on the road, I have a young family and I didn’t want to put them through it. This is right where I want to be.”

St. Pierre, despite being from Danvers, says Central Catholic, and the accompanying rivalry, is not new to him.

“I felt it as a player. I mean we don’t really have a regional rival like them,” said St. Pierre. “You could feel it right away. Two Catholic schools with excellent athletic programs. It’s a natural.”

Saturday’s collision promises to be another classic. It’s a game like this on a loaded prep schedule that fuels St. Pierre now.

Out of the NFL game for four seasons now, St. Pierre comes away healthy and happy.

Of course, there is always the thought that he could have done more than throw 33 career passes in three games — one start.

“It’s why I don’t sleep at night. I mean it’s only natural to wonder what might have been,” said St. Pierre, who went to Super Bowl XLIII with the Cardinals and watched the Steelers pull out the win. “It’s all about opportunity in that league. I played for a long time behind some really good people, Hall of Famers. I wouldn’t trade it for anything.

DOUBLE WING GROWS ON MCINNIS

At 6-foot-2, 210 pounds with an explosive arm and speed to the edge, Brendan McInnis looks like he was created with the spread offense in mind.

Three seasons under center – not in the shotgun – at Windham High with a 17-5 record and climbing would certainly point otherwise. Jaguars’ coach Bill Raycraft trusts and believes in the double-tight, double-wing.

With the success Windham High has enjoyed, who could complain? But that doesn’t mean the talented McInnis doesn’t ever think, “What if?”

“I played all through youth football and had never taken a snap under center,” said McInnis, who is off to a solid 2-0 start with the Jags, completing 18 of 27 for 313 yards and five TDs without an interception and rushing 12 times for 97 yards and two more scores.

“My first couple years here were a little frustrating. But now, I wouldn’t trade this offense for anything. It’s kind of funny. I grew up despising the double-wing, because our biggest rival Hudson-Litchfield played it. But I’ve really grown to love this.”

VIDEO POWER

It is “THE” highlight on colleague David Willis’ brilliant New Hampshire high school preview, and of course, he was smart enough to add it on the intro to the E-T’s weekly high school football video show.

Windham’s Shane Lafond turns the corner against Timberlane in a scrimmage and “Ka-Blam,” he takes a heavy shot. At both schools, at least in the football programs, the hit has gone viral.

“We just wanted to make sure Shane was still breathing after that,” said Windham’s McInnis. “It was probably the biggest hit we will see all year.”

JUST FOR KICKS

Watching Central Catholic sophomore kickoff man Johandy Gonzalez for two straight weeks, the one thing you knew was you have no idea where the next one was headed.

Not that the kicks weren’t successful. In two games, Gonzalez has had two kicks find an empty pocket in the coverage, with opportunistic Raiders pouncing on the football for recoveries.

That’s what makes the onside-kick that Gonzalez executed Friday night against Haverhill all the more amazing.

He looped a perfect 12-yarder right to the left sideline where a streaking Nick Worden ran right under it, catching it with a beautiful sliding grab.

Picture perfect.

“(Special teams advisor) Ernie DiFiore has been working with them on it, and it was a great kick,” said Central coach Chuck Adamopoulos. “He’s done a nice job for us. And is probably our best all-around special teams guy. He’s been excellent on all our coverage teams.”

LITTLE LEAGUE REUNION

Back nearly nine years ago, when 9-year-old Jack Lambert was called up to the majors in the Groveland Little League, his coach was none other than Central’s Chuck Adamopoulos.

These days, Lambert is in the business of tearing up ball-carriers as a linebacker for St. John’s Prep, which hosts Coach A’s Raiders on Saturday in a battle of the state’s top 5 teams.

“He had good hands for a young kid. I called him, Jack Hammer and Jack the Ripper,” said Adamopoulos. “But as good as he was, he’s a much better football player. He’s going to be a handful for us on Saturday.”

THE SOUTH RISES

Don’t look now, but four of the seven 2-0 teams in New Hampshire Division 1 football reside in the South Conference. They are Londonderry, Merrimack, Pinkerton and Salem.

It’s a fact that the coaches are already preparing to grumble about, especially with a conference like the West, where 1-1 Alvirne was throttled in its opener by Pinkerton (63-20) but found a way to crunch Nashua North, 27-0, this week. North also sits tied for the West lead at 1-1.

Now, issues like this are bound to pop up. Last year, the power was clearly in the North where Bedford was the odd team out.

“Somebody, maybe even two of us, is going to be unhappy when November rolls around,” said Astros’ coach Brian O’Reilly.

“It’s pretty tough that only two of us can make it, and then we have to play each other for a chance to move on,” added Londonderry coach Jimmy Lauzon. “The system definitely has a couple kinks that need to be worked out.”

The seven days, beginning Saturday night, should begin to clear things up. O’Reilly’s Astros host Salem Saturday night at 7 p.m. on the close of Homecoming Weekend. Then, on Friday the 26th, it’s Mack Plaque Weekend with a trip down Route 102 to meet rival Londonderry.

With two wins, Pinkerton will control its own destiny. If not, things will certainly remain muddled as all four teams will meet each other in the coming weeks.

O’Reilly wasn’t happy about the two games so close together, with the Saturday nighter costing him a day of prep for the Lancers.

“It’s not quite playing Thursday night football in the NFL, but it’s close,” he said.

Saturday’s slugfest with Salem could be a good one, a Wing-T fan’s delight with both teams employing that offense.

ODDS AND ENDS

Londonderry has averaged 5.0 yards a carry this year, and it’s a point that coach Jimmy Lauzon looks on with pride: “Our offensive line has been a pleasant surprise. Matt Freda, Casey Brackett, Nick Barbera, Paul Lind and T.J. Bajek have done a great job for us.” It’s an experienced, all-senior group, something the Lancers can rally around. …

Another senior Kyle Byrd delivered the special teams play of the week for Londonderry, blocking a punt in the win over Timberlane. …

Looking for a sleeper standout on the offensive line, you might want to take a peek at big, 6-foot-6, 270-pounder Noah Robison at Pinkerton, who is off to a flying start. …

How crazy were the injury woes for Lawrence High Friday night? Look no further than the defensive tackle, where junior backup QB Ismael Jenkins needed to pitch in, and perform admirably by the way.

Brian St. Pierre says …

On his QB, transfer Oliver Eberth of Andover: “He’s doing pretty well. He’s still growing and still learning things. He’s very athletic and he’s a smart guy, too. The kids here have really taken to him, like he’s been here all along.”

On junior fullback/defensive end Jack Lambert of Groveland: “He’s coming off a huge night for us on both sides of the ball against Brockton. He’s a tough, rugged kid, as good a two-way football player as we have in the program. He’s just a football player. Whoever gets him (at the next level) will be getting a real good one.”

Recommended for you