St. John’s College High (Washington, D.C.) football coach John Casamento knows what he’s in for Saturday when his No. 18 Cadets play host to No. 4 St. John Bosco (Bellflower, Calif.).
He watched film from this season and of Bosco’s 2016 state-championship 42-28 mauling of De La Salle (Concord, Calif.), a team that came back in the second half to defeat visiting St. John’s 35-31 on Sept. 1.
“The first film I saw was from De La Salle last year,” Casamento said. “(Bosco) is very athletic, a lot of size, a lot of speed. They’re a solid football team. They’re a little younger this year in some spots, which is good, because we’re younger in some spots. They can throw it and they can run it, which puts a lot of pressure on teams and they’re playing well.”
This will be the Cadets’ third game this season against a team that started the season in the Super 25 rankings. They are coming off a 42-25 win two weeks ago against defending New Jersey state champion St. Joseph Regional (Montvale), which began the season in the Super 25. They will play at least one more Super 25 team after this, when they face Washington Catholic Athletic Conference (WCAC) champion DeMatha Catholic (Hyattsville, Md.) on Oct. 21.
Junior running back Keilan Robinson, who is averaging just under 100 yards a game, gives the Cadets a counter punch to the team’s passing attack, led by quarterback Kevin Doyle. Robinson said there are a lot of advantages to playing a tough schedule:
“I’ve learned that you have to be focused all game long,” Robinson said. “Against these teams, the smallest slip-up can cost you a touchdown. I just try to do the best of what I can according to my ability. … You get to see if you’re good or not against these teams.”
Casamento said the schedule isn’t to just prepare his team for a title run against DeMatha.
“I want my kids to be the best in America,” he said. “I want my kids to aspire to be the best in the country, not the best in the WCAC or Washington. You can be in a league and think you’re really good, but it’s a big country. You get out there and start playing the De La Salles and the Boscos and the IMGs and the Jones and you start to see what the other teams have that you might not have in your game.”
As tough as St. John’s schedule is, it’s hard to top St. John Bosco’s. The Braves (3-1) lost 9-3 at No. 3 St. Thomas Aquinas (Fort Lauderdale) in their opener, and two weeks after they play St. John’s, the Braves will face No. 1 Mater Dei (Santa Ana). Bosco coach Jason Negro said St. John’s is very athletic.
“They’re very explosive,” Negro said. “They are scary. They are good up front. The quarterback is as good as anybody we’ll see all year. They have speedy wide outs, their running back is explosive. They have guys who run around on defense. The big D-lineman, the No. 54 kid (Cam Goode) is incredible.”
One factor that the Braves are hoping to negate is the inevitable travel lag that comes with playing a game three time zones away, something St. John’s found out at De La Salle. The Braves flew out early, on Tuesday, to get acclimated for Saturday’s 2 p.m. game.
“Any time we come East Coast, this is typically what we do,” Negro said. “We would rather play a little later, at night, but we practice during the days. A 2 p.m. start is like an 11 a.m. start for us, which is something we’re used to.”