WILMINGTON – When you talk about the Germano Twins, there's two things that immediately come into mind: their conflicts with one another, and the fact that there's no two other players in the past decade-plus, who have improved more on the football field than Pedro and John.
The Wilmington High seniors are two minutes apart in age with Pedro the older one. He has also been the Wildcats' starting quarterback in each of the past two seasons, where he went from making zero pass attempts in his first game back in March to surpassing the 1,000-yard plateau last week in the playoff loss to Foxboro.
John, the speedy receiver/return specialist, has gone from 11 catches for 190 yards with two touchdowns as a sophomore to 20 catches for 266 yards with three touchdowns two years later, but add to that two punt return touchdowns, two field goals and 16 PAT kicks.
They both also play on the defensive side, John more so than Pedro. The two of them combined have been such important parts to the 'Cats back-to-back winning seasons of 4-2 and 6-4, including the playoff win two weeks ago. And while they joke around saying the other one is “annoying” and they've had their share of spats, there's some certainties when it comes to the two kids who wear No. 1 and No. 2 on the field. For one, they never, ever stop working and as head coach Craig Turner says, “they never stop talking”. Two, they both can play. And lastly, the spit-fire relationship has certainly brought out the best of each other on the field every single week.
"You should stick around, (their battles) happens everyday. It's like every five minutes. When they were younger at practice, we had to physically separate them multiple times because they just don't stop going at each other," said Turner with a big laugh. "At the same time, they are the type of kids who compete hard every single rep, on every single drill with Coach (Jim) Rita at practice with the team or a Friday night, they just go so hard, all of the time. Kids like that get to the next level. They'll get better and bigger and stronger."
STEP RIGHT UP, BOY
During the 2019 season, Pedro, then a sophomore, was deep on the depth-chart as the quarterback. At that time, the team had Tristan Ciampa, who was used early but got hurt and then changed positions. Freshman Joe McCauley broke his foot in the pre-season and then senior Christian Robarge, was shifted back-and-forth between running back/slot receiver to quarterback, because of the injuries and then depending on the play-call.
Pedro got his chance to show a little bit of what he could do in a blowout loss.
"I remember that game. It was against Melrose. Melrose was fantastic that year and they won the whole thing," recalled Turner. "Our starting quarterback was hurt, Joe McCauley had just came back from a broken foot, so we had to throw him out to the wolves (despite not being fully recovered). It got to the point where he just really couldn't move out there because he was coming off of that injury. We were getting our doors blown off, so I figured to put Pedro in and see if he could compete."
Pedro competed but really struggled. He didn't complete pass in eight attempts, including throwing an interception and he also had negative five rushing yards. McCauley and Robarge were the QB's the rest of the way and Pedro didn't get another chance.
When that season concluded, it was also the end for Ciampa and Robarge, who both eventually graduated, and McCauley transferred. Next in line was Pedro, but COVID-19 cancelled the fall season and instead, Fall-2 happened, an abbreviated six-game schedule. Heading into that pre-season, Turner changed up his offense because at that time, he had no idea who would take the reigns as the next signal-caller.
“Pedro has looked very good and has been very impressive, very impressive," said Turner back in early March of this year. "Both of the Germano twins got a little bit bigger and a little stronger. Pedro won't blow you away with his size, but in terms of grasping the offense and his throwing ability, he has really, really improved. We fell into something really nice there. He's going to be a pretty good player. He can throw it down the field. I think we will be a run-heavy offense with some good play-action stuff, the stuff that will really utilize his skills.
“Honestly, Pedro has surprised us so much that we have opened some things up a little bit for him, too. I think we will be pretty well-balanced in terms of throwing it either short or deep. He's got a strong enough arm to stretch the field.”
What was happening in practice, wasn't transpiring on the field – not yet anyway. In the team's first game against Burlington, a 3-0 win where both teams couldn't generate any kind of offense, Pedro was reluctant to throw a pass. He made zero pass attemps and rushed the ball seven times for negative 12 yards.
"The (start of the) spring (season) – was a disaster," said Turner. "It was an absolute disaster, but what we saw in practice was really good but in games, it was like 'dude, let it go. You have to throw it'. He was timid – he wouldn't throw it in the Burlington game. Now we have to tell him to run, it's OK. That first interception he threw against Foxboro, it was like 'hey just run'. He just makes so many plays for us with his feet."
Gradually Pedro's confidence grew. In the next game he made 12 attempts, completing six, but the game after that he was 1-for-5. In week four, he blossomed with a strong 9-for-19 performance with 133 yards and three TDs in a win over Watertown. That followed with two TD passes in a loss to Stoneham and then a monster game to close the season, 158 yards and three scores against Winchester.
After his sophomore season was over, Pedro worked a bit with assistant coach Jordan Bolarinho, a former QB at Billerica High and Plymouth State, while he and John also played a lot of beach and flag football. That off-season workload with Bolarinho increased after this past Fall-2 season.
"The amount of improvement that Pedro's made in just a year's time is really impressive. Jordan has really worked him and he's been so great. They worked together so much and so well together. Jordan just does an awesome job and so glad he's with us," said Turner. "He helped Pedro with footwork, with arm strength as his arm has gotten a lot stronger, his speed and his reads. (The reads are just) knowing what you are looking at in terms of defense and knowing like 'OK, I'm just looking at this safety and if he comes down to the dig, then I'm throwing it to the post, but he if goes back to the post, then I'm going to the dig'. That has worked out for him. We spent a lot of time on that with him during the year to the point where I think our passing game is the best that it's ever been here.
"Even the first year I was here with Graham (Smith) and Tyler (Roberts) it was chuck it up to Tyler (every time). At times it looks like we're chucking it up to Gavin, but those are reads that teams are giving us and Pedro is taking that and throwing perfect, perfect balls."
While the workouts with Coach Bolarinho have improved Pedro's game quite a bit, getting bigger, stronger and faster – especially with his legs, seems to have pushed him from a struggling QB to an elite one. In the Fall-2 season, Pedro never rushed for over 27 yards in a game. In the third game this season against Billerica, a team that played in the Division 3 state semi-final game this past weekend, Pedro had a 71-yard TD run. In two of his last three games, including the last two in the playoffs, he has scrambled all over the field with these crazy athletic runs, scoring a combined three touchdowns – all the while throwing five.
"Pedro has been huge for us. He has expanded the playbook for us so much," said senior captain Jake Chirichiello. "The word going into last year's team was how was our passing game going to work, and he's really has come into his own. He has hit almost every pass perfectly and he can run as a quarterback and just do everything."
Pedro went from 0-for-8, zero yards in mop-up duty, to leading the 'Cats to a 4-2 record as a first-year starter. In those six games (really five because of no pass attempts from the first game), he completed 31-of-61 passes for 553 yards with six touchdowns (three to John) and just two interceptions. He added just 66 rushing yards.
Now just seven months after that season ended, Pedro enters Thursday's game against Tewksbury completing 68-of-120 passes for 1,043 yards, including 12 TDs (three again to John) and six interceptions. He's also rushed for 442 yards with seven touchdowns.
In his career, he has completed 99-of-189 pass attempts for 1,596 yards, including 18 touchdowns and nine interceptions, while he has 503 rushing yards and seven scores. He has combined for 25 touchdowns coming in 16-plus games.
"Coach Jordan really helped me out. After my sophomore year, he said you're playing quarterback (next year) so we hit the field a lot. I knew I had to step up. Then after (the spring season) we hit the field even more. I have always played quarterback but I have never have gone to full on training for the position.
"Throwing wise, I had to fix (my mechanics). I used to hold the ball really low and now I hold it a little higher to get a motion. My footwork is a lot better. I used to be lazy and now I'm not that way."
It's certainly interesting that Pedro said that he likes to hold the ball low, because if you watch him on a basic QB-Draw, he holds the ball with one hand, low to the ground and it looks like he's going to fumble every single time.
"I just like holding the ball low with one hand because I feel like I can run faster and move better that way," he said.
Aren't you afraid of losing it?
"Nah, I'm not worried."
VERSATILITY HELPS JOHN
Both Pedro and John are extremely athletic, Pedro can throw the ball and John is quicker/faster, and has more roles with the team. He's one of the team's top receivers, once in a while he'll carry the ball upfield, he does the kick and punt returns, and he is the placekicker.
"(John Germano) can do a lot of those things (like Erickson and Misuraca can do) as a running back, but because they have those guys, (John Germano becomes) this extra luxury that you have in the slot and he can do so many things," said Tewksbury head coach Brian Aylward. "He killed us over the summer. He's just super quick and he catches everything that is thrown at him."
John was coming off two pretty decent seasons. As a sophomore, he had 11 catches for 190 yards with two scores. During the Fall-2 season, he had nine receptions for 158 yards with three scores – all from Pedro. This year, John he has scored 52 of the team's 250 points.
Certainly those numbers are solid, but they don't justify what kind of player he really has become.
"John's going to be a hard kid to replace. He's another kid who allows you (as a coach) to do so much because he's so versatile," said Turner. "What doesn't get talked a lot about with John is I'd put his blocking up against any wide receiver in the area. Pound for pound, he's the best blocker I've ever had (at his position). Bar none. He's so tough. Once he gets on you and he just moves his feet. That's why he'll play at the next level because he can block. He'll block bigger, stronger kids and they'll have trouble with him. A kid like him, who is not your typical wide receiver, if he's not getting the ball, it doesn't matter to him. In high school, you'll sometimes see wide receivers out wide and if they know it's a running play, they don't block, but he's a perfect fit for our offense because he will block. We'll ask him to crack down on the defensive end, or linebackers and he'll do it all."
John's season started out on a bang. He had punt return touchdowns in each of the first two games against Woburn and Greater Lowell. Two games later he connected on his first ever field goal from 20 yards out.
“I always played soccer when I was younger (along with football) and I always had a (good) leg,” said John. “We didn't have a kicker so I stepped up and said I would do it. I wasn't really surprised because I knew I could it kick it that far."
Two games after that, John caught two touchdown passes from Pedro in the team's shut out win over Burlington. He finished the night with three catches for 53 yards, which included scores of 11 and 31 yards.
"Pedro's good. He's fast, elusive, he can throw the ball, he can run and he can do anything on the field," said John. "He's improved a lot, especially since freshmen year. He couldn't even throw fifty yards and now he can definitely throw more that that."
Two games later, the connection continued as Pedro found John open for an 11-yard TD pass in the must-win overtime thriller over Wakefield.
"Think about that Wakefield game and that touchdown he scored. It was a fantastic route and he knows well enough to get down and get back inside to score. He's just a really tough kid," said Turner.
Certainly that TD was big, but the OT conversion pass from brother-to-brother was really something special.
"The play was a roll-out to Gavin and he was supposed to do a whip route but he wasn't open. I saw the pressure, so I then (changed directions) and rolled out all the way to the left, and I saw John wide open," said Pedro, before John added, "I was doing jumping jacks in the end zone (I was so open)."
While John can catch everything in sight and block with the best of them, it's his routes as a receiver, says his QB, that makes him elite.
"John has improved a lot. He was always good. His routes are always sharp. He got faster, way faster and just improved a lot. I was always fast but he's definitely faster than me. As a cornerback, you're supposed to figure him out, but you can't. He's just so fast, his moves are too good. He's just so good," said Pedro.
While the two were asked to praise the other, they were also asked about a time when they may have disagreed on the field.
"There was a play against Middleboro. (Pedro) went to go blitz the quarterback when he wasn't supposed to, and he let another guy wide open and he went for a touchdown. I got really mad, really mad at him," John said with a big laugh.
The two of them were asked about college. They said they are looking into schools like Curry, Nichols and Western New England. They would both like to play football and are not opposed to going to the same school or going their separate ways.
"Pedro is fantastic, just fantastic. He could play quarterback at the next level, he really could but he's just so small," praised Turner. "He's going to need someone to take a chance on him. I've been talking to some (college) coaches about him and not necessarily as a quarterback, but he can play wherever. He could play defense, he could play wide receiver.
"I keep saying that we have to get John the ball more and hopefully we can do that on Thanksgiving because he's pretty electric when the ball is in his hands. They just work so hard. Those two kids are just really special kids."