Bernardians return to Gillette – Sentinel and Enterprise

It’s not quite a dynasty, but what the St. Bernard football team has built is, quite frankly, an admirable model of consistency.

Former playoff contenders, the Bernardians punched through for their first berth in a league game since 2019 on Friday night with a 32-19 win over defending state champion Cohasset in the Division 7 semifinals. , Saint-Bernard wins his fourth title shot since 2015.

In the previous three league games, the Bernardians went 2-1, falling to Mashpee, 28-8, in the Division 8 title tilt in 2015 before winning back-to-back titles in 2018 and 2019. They held back Pope John, 46-35, for the first championship before sweeping West Bridgewater, 30-8, the following season.

Now the Bernardians are preparing to return to Gillette Stadium. St. Bernard’s – the third seed in Division 7 – will face top seed West Boylston for the crown, with a date and time yet to be announced by the MIAA.

“It feels so good heading into the state title game,” St. Bernard running back Damien Jones said after Friday’s win. “We know the success this team has had in the past and we also want to be part of it.”

The title match will be a battle between the powers of Central Mass. as West Boylston outscored No4 Amesbury, 33-20, on Friday night to earn their place.

The Bernardians and Lions have seemed like the class of a very competitive division this playoffs.

“Our split, one to 16, was exceptional,” said St. Bernard head coach Tom Bingham. “Mashpee came in at 14 and they’ve been fantastic. I think that says a lot about our division and I’m pretty happy for Central Mass football, I can tell you that.

Bernardians beat Mashpee, 42-12, in the first round before holding No. 6 Uxbridge, 20-14, last week in the quarter-finals. St. Bernard’s took control of Friday’s game against Cohasset early and used the ground game late to earn a two-point victory.

On the other side of Division 7, West Boylston got into the Championship game. The Lions routed Tech Boston Academy, 49-6, to open the tournament before beating Wahconah Regional, 36-6, in the quarterfinals.

carry the load

Antonio Mancini and Jones totaled 343 of St. Bernard’s 352 offensive yards on Friday night, with the senior duo combining to carry the ball on all but three plays. With Jones temporarily hampered by a lower-body injury late in the third quarter, Mancini became the workhorse, racking up 29 carries on the night.

Mancini closed the game on a high note, hauling in seven of his 170 yards on his final two carries to give St. Bernard a final first down with a minute to play. His last run was good for three yards as the Bernardians faced fourth and second at Cohasset 11.

He also had a touchdown and three two-pointers.

Jones racked up a record 173 yards on 23 touches, finding the end zone three times.

Spin cycle

As the Skippers defenders charged him hard late in the game in an attempt to create a turnover, Jones resorted to his not-so-secret weapon: a super-efficient spinning move that left Cohasset’s players trying to wrap the air in the wake of Jones.

Much like a Madden video game player pressing the B button, Jones slipped out of the defenders’ grip on several occasions as the Bernardians ran out of time. And it was not by chance.

“They were aiming for big shots trying to slow us down, so I had to do something,” Jones said. “Specifically, the spin prevented them from both hitting me and wrapping around me while I was carrying the ball.”