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St. John’s Football Looks for Redemption After Super Bowl Defeat

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

 

Big things are always expected of the football team at St. John's High in Shrewsbury, and the Pioneers believe a new up-tempo offense can make them Super Bowl champs this season.

Last season the Pioneers came up just short of a championship, falling to Leominster 21-6 in the Central Mass Division I Super Bowl at Gillette Stadium in Foxboro. In the game, the Pioneers' high powered offense was slowed by Leominster's stingy defense, but coach John Andreoli has installed a new offense that he believes will pay dividends in 2012.

"It's no-huddle and up-tempo," Andreoli said. "It's a lot of reads on what the defense is trying to do and what we can take advantage of. We've got guys we want to get in space and let them do their thing, and that's what this allows us to do."

The new "blur" offense that St. John's will run this season was made popular by Chip Kelly and the Oregon Ducks in recent years. The offense is predicated on operating out of the no-huddle and giving the defense little, if any, time to catch its breath.

To run this offense, you usually need a smart and experienced quarterback. St. John's senior Connor Kurtz fits that description. After throwing for nearly 2,500 yards and 19 touchdowns in 2011, Kurtz knows he will have to spread the ball around more this season with the departure of star receiver Effrain Montalvo.

"We're a lot more spread out this year," Kurtz said. "Last year it was Effrain catching a lot of balls, but this year you really don't know who's getting it. I think it will be a lot harder for defenses to defend."

The Pioneers will look for senior receiver John Giacoppe to step up this season after a limited role in 2011. Now a senior and a captain, Giacoppe is trying to remove the sting of losing to his hometown team of Leominster last year.

"After losing last year, to my home team," Giacoppe said. "I definitely want to come back and beat them, then go on to win the Super Bowl."

Defensively, the Pioneers will be led by senior linebackers Barron Dandridge and Shadrach Abrokwah. While he excels as an inside linebacker in the Pioneer 4-4 defense, Abrokwah also starts at running back for the Pioneer offense. As a physical back, Abrokwah says it doesn't matter which side of the ball he's on, he's looking to hit someone.

"I like playing both sides of the ball equally," Abrokwah said. "I enjoy trucking people, and I like lighting people on the other side. It's all fun."

The first day of St. John's camp was a positive one as Andreoli saw a number of his players make great strides in the weight room and on the track. Several players ran the 40-yard dash in the 4.5 second range, and the coach's new offense moved the ball nearly at will. Still, Dandridge believes his defense will come around and catch up with the offense.

"I think the defense looked fine, but we had to get used to their 'blur' offense, and we didn't always have time to get set," Dandridge said. "We didn't get to run any of our plays, so we just had to run our basic coverage, but I think we'll progress and we'll be ahead of the offense soon," he added with a laugh.

The Pioneers open their season at home against rival Holy Name on Saturday September 8th. Kickoff is scheduled for 2:30 pm.

 

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