LAWRENCE — The Central Catholic defense bent without breaking throughout Friday’s Division 1 quarterfinal matchup against Everett, and senior Markys Bridgewater broke a couple of long touchdown runs to pave the way in a 21-0 victory at Lawrence Veterans Memorial Stadium.
The third-seeded Raiders (8-2) advance to take on seventh-seeded St. John’s Prep (8-2) in the state semifinals (TBA).
“The defense hung in there and they bailed us out,” said central coach Chuck Adamopoulos. “But we also had some things go our way. I’m proud of the way our kids played in the second half. That’s not an easy team to shut out. We survived tonight.”
Everett (8-2) moved the ball effectively during two long drives in the first half, but fumbles doomed its chances to jump ahead. The Crimson Tide rode 6-foot-2-inch, 220-pound quarterback Karmarri Ellerbe and their running game to a first-round win last Friday, so falling behind was not an ideal game script.
In the final minute of the first half, Bridgewater (9 carries, 104 yards, TD) caught a screen and took it 50 yards to give Central a 7-0 advantage. With backfield mate Matthias Latham (ankle) hobbled, Bridgewater handled the bulk of the touches, and broke a 72-yard touchdown run in the third quarter shortly after Jaden Wiggins blocked a 23-yard field goal attempt. by Everett.
Sophomore quarterback Blake Hebert (8-for-14, 97 passing yards, TD; 5 carries, 75 yards, TD) sealed the win with a 52-yard touchdown scramble.
While the final score wasn’t indicative of the competition, it marks the first time Everett has been shut out in 71 games since the Tide fell, 24-0, to Central Catholic in Oct. 2015
“Hats off to Everett. I thought they did a great job coaching and playing and I thought it was a good tough football game,” said Adamopoulos. “We always talk about being the guys that pick everyone up when things aren’t going good, and we were able to do that tonight.”