It was a battle of defenses Saturday afternoon as St John Central secured against visiting Sherman Tide by a margin of 14-6 at the Junior Irish Field of Dreams Complex.
All told, the teams combined for only 268 yards of total offense in a battle of field position which unfolded all afternoon.
It took almost three quarters before Fighting Irish quarterback D.J. Shoemaker found Alex Francis running horizontally in the end zone without a defender in sight at the 7:26 mark for the first score of the game. Dario Paolina tacked on the first of his two extra points.
ST. JOHN’S Dario Paolina looks to turn the corner as he fights off a Sherman defender during Saturday’s game in Bellaire.
The score remained 7-0 until 5:42 in the game when Sherman quarterback Tyler Stewart connected with junior back John Pauley from 25-yards out. The run came short leaving a 7-6 difference.
The Tide was forced to go for two, as their kicker went down with a leg injury the previous series.
"The players really stepped up, calling a lot of things at the line out, which helped us out on defense." Irish head coach Jason Merryman explained. "Gage (Tiber) had a huge day defensively coming up with a bunch of tackles"
St John required a mere 3 plays after receiving the Sherman kickoff as Devon Hennessey got the call on two consecutive totes, the second of which he took to the pylon before leaving it up to Cervelli the following play.
"Hennessey stepped up when we needed it, he's been a little sore but was there when we needed it a couple times."
Cervelli rumbled in through a huge gaping Sherman goal line defense from a yard out to seal a 14-6 margin, improving the Merryman squad to 3-5 . "We made the plays when we had to" he added.
Leading the way on the ground for rushers was the light-footed Hennesy with 73, who broke had multiple nifty runs at key points for the Irish. Sherman was led by Pauley with 42.
Through the air, Shoemaker and Paolina combined for a 6-13 performance opposed by Stewart's 5-15 for 91 yards for the Tide.
St. John hosts Cameron next Saturday.
"They're going to be battle tested, so we'll get to work this week."