BILLERICA — If a screenwriter had written a script for a perfect Homecoming Day, it would have been hard them to top the real life dramatics for the Shawsheen Tech Football team in last Saturday’s 16-10 Homecoming Day victory over CAC rival Greater Lawrence at Cassidy Field at the Charles Lyons Athletic Complex.
Shawsheen had taken a 16-7 early in the fourth quarter, but Greater Lawrence had pulled within six points with a field goal and looked poised to take their first lead of the game with just over a minute to play. That momentum swing all changed when Shawsheen senior cornerback Jake Bonanno made a great leaping interception in the corner of the end zone with 1:14 left in the game to preserve the victory for the Rams, who improved to 3-0 (2-0 in the CAC) on the season with the 16-10 win.
“That was a great high school football game,” Shawsheen coach Al Costabile said. “Greater Lawrence came here prepared. They played very hard on both sides of the ball. We did as well. A lot of people left a lot out on the field today.”
Greater Lawrence (2-1/1-1) had begun their final drive on their own 17-yard line with 3:28 left in the game, and had quickly moved into Shawsheen territory, picking up 37 yards on a pass from Shamil Diaz to Chris Tineo the first play of the drive. Tineo had hauled in the pass despite the best efforts of Bonanno, who was at a distinct six disadvantage against the mammoth wideout. Another Reggies pass, this one for 17 yards, had given them a first down with 1:23 left in the game.
With momentum on their side, a touchdown seemed almost inevitable, but Bonanno would not cooperate with the Reggies plan, coming up with a great interception to seal the win.
Costabile was thrilled to see Bonanno bounce back the way he did after giving up the long completion earlier in the drive.
“He had great coverage on the completion, but that was a great pass, and that number one (Diaz) is a great quarterback,” Costabile said. “I don’t blame them for coming back and trying it again, but Jake made an all-pro play.”
The interception by Bonanno was just the latest great play made by a Rams defense that has allowed just two offensive touchdown and 16 total points through four games (including the endowment game against Millis). Costabile has obviously been thrilled with what he has seen from his defense so far this season.
“The defense is doing a phenomenal job,” Costabile said. “(Assistant) Coach (Ray) Morneau and the defensive coaches are doing a great job and the defense is really coming up and saving us in some really difficult situations. They have gone out there in situations where our opponents had very good field position, and time and time again they have stepped up.”
In the early going, it did not look like this would be a defensive struggle, as Shawsheen jumped out to an early 7-0 lead less than four minutes into game. After a fumble recovery at the Greater Lawrence 31-yard line, the Rams needed just five plays before sophomore running back Dylan Timmons of Wilmington scored on a 15-yard run with 8:43 left in the first quarter. Xavier Santiago’s extra point gave the Rams an early 7-0 lead.
For the most part, the Rams defense did a great job in containing Diaz, who truly is a tremendous athlete. But his athleticism did get the better of the of Rams on one play later in the quarter when he broke free for an 89-yard touchdown run to tie the game at 7-7 with 3:02 left in the quarter.
That would be all the scoring in the first half, however, as both defenses took over. The Rams were led on defense by senior defensive tackle John Wermecke, senior linebacker Shane Stairs and senior defensive back Connor Rich among others.
It was special teams, however, that put the Rams on the board next. With Greater Lawrence backed up deep in their territory, the snap on a punt attempt sailed over the punter’s head and through the end zone for a safety to give Shawsheen a 9-7 lead with 1:28 left in the third quarter.
After the free kick, the Rams proceeded to go on one of the craziest scoring drives you will ever see. Starting on the Greater Lawrence 39-yard line, it took them just three plays to pick up a first and goal at the eight-yard line when junior quarterback Chris Disciscio connected with senior tight end Conor Rooney of Wilmington for a 27-yard completion.
Two plays later, however, an intentional grounding call against the Rams moved them all the way back to the 31-yard line, giving the Rams a nearly impossible third and goal from that spot. Disciscio, however, then connected with Bonanno for a 26-yard completion down to the five-yard line and on fourth and goal from the five, Disciscio ran into the end zone on a keeper for a 16-7 lead with 9:47 left in the game.
“They showed great resilience there, and they showed a lot of resilience all day today,” Costabile said.
Greater Lawrence would come back with a 35-yard field goal on the ensuing possession to close within 16-10, but that was as close as they would get, as Bonanno came up with the game saving interception.
While there is s still a long way to go in the season, Saturday’s win certainly gives the Rams the inside track towards the CAC Large School title where Greater Lawrence, the defending Super Bowl champions, had been the favorite.
But Costabile knows there is plenty of work still to be done, starting with this Friday night’s matchup in Wakefield against CAC rival Northeast Metro Tech. Northeast brings a 1-3 record into Friday night’s game and is coming off a 20-6 win over Whittier last Friday night, after losing 31-0 to Greater Lawrence the week before.
“This is a great feeling, I am so proud of these guys, and so proud of my coaches. I am so proud of all of them,” Costabile said. “But there is a long way to go, and we know we are going to have to be ready for Northeast come Friday night, because we know they will be ready for us.”