By Lorenzo Recupero
If the old football adage of “defense wins championships” has any truth behind it, the Pope John Tigers may be the next MIAA Division 8 North champions.
After blanking Lynn Tech, 24-0, last weekend they are one step closer to a title.
Standing in the way of the Tigers (9-0) continuing one of the best sports seasons in school history is undefeated Boston English/New Mission (8-0). The two sides will meet in the Div.8 North Final at 7PM at Everett Stadium on Friday, and if the Tigers play to form, it’ll be a defensive showdown
“Our defense has truly been solid all year long,” said Pope John first-year head coach, Paul Sobolowski. “We’ve only let up 60 points defensively all season while playing at a high level,” said Sobolowski, who watched his squad hold Lynn Tech to under 60 yards total and kept them from crossing midfield all contest. The capable Lynn tech quarterback was held to a pedestrian 2-of-14 passing and just 33 total yards.
The tremendous effort by the Tigers’ defense is hardly a new thing, the team has been lights out since the start of the season, not only allowing so little points but they’ve been turning defense into offense with a combined 8 touchdowns defensively, including one in each of the last three games.
Bolstering the stingy Tigers’ unit has been their defensive backfield combination of starting cornerbacks Jose Davila and Roshad John along with starting safeties John Smith Howell and Jesus Rivera III. The latter, Rivera, has scored three touchdowns (two pick-six) on defense himself, including a scoop-and-score fumble recovery for touchdown at the end of the first half against Lynn Tech. As a unit, the defense has 14 interceptions on the year.
But don’t let the defense’s knack for finding the ball and taking it to pay dirt make you believe they are one-trick Tigers. Coach Sobolowski would like you to know the team is averaging 34-plus points per game.
“With our defense playing so well, it’s easy to overlook how productive we’ve been on offense with 307 points scored this season so far,” said Sobolowski. “Our offense will help us get through games,” he said.
The Tigers, just two years removed from restarting the football program, will be playing in the most significant football game the school’s been a part of in two decades.