The previous week’s loss to Rummel left a bad taste in the mouths of the Brother Martin football players. Friday night, they were eager to get back to winning.
Despite a close game in the early going, Brother Martin pulled away with a 42-21 defeat of Shaw in a Catholic League tilt Friday night at Tad Gormley Stadium.
The theme of the week was to show what this Crusaders team is all about, and the message was clear-cut.
“Our motto this week was to come how and show what we’re worth,” sophomore running back Erick Lassair said. “We’re better than we played last week.”
“We wanted to finish the season out strong,” junior cornerback Tre Swilling added. “We’ve got to keep on pushing and hope for some luck going into the playoffs.”
The Crusaders (7-2, 3-2) rebounded from their second District 9-5A loss without workhorse running back Bruce Jordan-Swilling at full strength.
With Jordan-Swilling’s carries limited because of an ankle injury, Lassair and fellow sophomore Matthew Alfonso spearheaded a rushing attack that amassed 186 yards.
Lassair found the end zone three times, covering touchdown runs of 1, 8 and 4, the last icing the victory early in the fourth quarter.
“We knew Bruce was going to be out, so I had to step up and take advantage of the opportunity,” Lassair said. “I did what I had to.”
“We went into this game emphasizing depth,” Crusaders coach Mark Bonis said. “Lassair was good for us tonight. Some other guys stepped up, too.”
Tied at 14-all early in the second quarter, Martin put together back-to-back scoring drives to grab momentum before halftime.
The Eagles (4-5, 1-4) cut within a score after an 80-yard, 14-play drive that resulted in senior quarterback Matt Keller’s 4-yard touchdown pass to Denzell McCoy to start the third quarter.
However, the Crusaders responded with two more touchdowns to distance themselves and turned the game over to their defense to keep Shaw off the scoreboard for the final 16 minutes.
“We scored on the opening drive of the third quarter but didn’t hold them and got behind the chains a little bit,” Shaw coach Scott Bairnsfather said. “We didn’t play as well in the second half as we would’ve liked to.”
Jordan-Swilling wasn’t the only marquee back injured in this game.
Trey Ragas, who became Shaw’s all-time leading rusher a week earlier, picked up 109 yards on 26 carries but sat out the final minutes with ice wrapped around his shoulder.
Ragas was the victim of numerous gang tackles as the Martin defense keyed in on slowing down Shaw’s top offensive threat.
“We prepared as if we were going against Bruce every day at practice,” Swilling saud. “We wanted to get people to the ball and rally. He’s a real good back.”
“I don’t know what the injury is,” said Bairnsfather, “but he doesn’t come out … ever. He had to be hurting a bit.”