St. B’s Ready for Game with Patriots

November 20, 2018

FITCHBURG -- Slightly forgotten in all of the hoopla and preparation for St. Bernard’s Division 8 state semifinal with Hoosac Valley -- a 42-0 shellacking by the Blue and Gold which has them going to Gillette Stadium for the Super Bowl -- is that the Bernardians still have another game to prep for and play between now and the state title game on Dec. 1.

St. B’s will host North Middlesex Regional at the Bernardian Bowl for the second straight season Wednesday night at 6 p.m. It’s the fourth Thanksgiving Eve meeting between the two North County programs.

St. Bernard’s enters Wednesday night’s contest at 10-1, while North Middlesex, idle during the state semifinal weekend, is 2-8 with wins against Auburn and Groton-Dunstable Regional earlier in the season.

Even with the short turnaround between Saturday’s state semifinal and Wednesday, longtime St. Bernard’s head coach Tom Bingham asserts that his team will be ready to face Ryan DeMar’s Patriots.

“We’re going to regroup and get a plan in place,” Bingham said Saturday night in Lowell. “We already have our film on NM. The last couple of days, once we had our plan in place (for Hoosac Valley), I and a couple of the coaches have been peeking at the film. We have an idea, but we need to circle the wagons, get the kids healthy, and get them rest. We also have to keep an eye on the weather: There’s an awful lot of things going on. The weather -- it’s supposed to snow, and we’re extremely proud to offer our Chicken Bowl (Monday vs. NM at the Bowl).

“Those (JV) kids deserve to play.”

Lunenburg’s Gatsby Grounds Company came to the field on Friday to clear the playing surface for both the Chicken Bowl and Turkey Bowl games between the Bernardians and Patriots.

One would expect that St. Bernard’s, due to the important meeting with Eastern Mass. champion Pope John some 10 days later, won’t play its first-choice squad for very long against the Patriots.

And while St. B’s won’t change anything up with its approach offensively or defensively, its approach personnel-wise may deviate from normal.

“We have to be smart, evaluate the kids, see where everyone is, and at the end of the day, our No. 1 responsibility is safety,” Bingham said. “We’re going to make good decisions for the kids, sneak in a quick Chicken Bowl on Monday, and we’ll come out of that and put together a plan for Wednesday.”

“We are focused on controlling what we can control and preparing ourselves for a game against another good opponent,” DeMar said. “A win would be huge for us. I know how important rivalry games are on and around Thanksgiving but we are not prepping any different then we would for any other game or team. The players are working hard in practice and making sure they ready for a well coached team on Wednesday night.”

One of the challenges St. Bernard’s will face Wednesday will be that of NM junior quarterback Josh LeBlanc, a rather mobile signalcaller.

“Frankly, he could be (Damian) Comeau from Narragansett, and Leblanc will be one of the best quarterbacks we’ve seen this year as far as mobility. (Lunenburg’s Chris) Costich obviously throws the heck out of the ball, but if you want to talk about mobility, LeBlanc’s absolutely outstanding. His improvement from his freshman year to sophomore year was off the charts, and seeing him again this year, we’re going have our hands full,” Bingham said.

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