The Pope John XXIII High School football team will put its perfect record on the line when it plays St. Bernard’s Central Catholic (Fitchburg) in the Division 8 Super Bowl Saturday at Gillette Stadium in Foxboro.
Pope John (12-0), who is led by head coach Paul Sobolewski, is seeking the school’s second Super Bowl title, having won in 1998. Interestingly, the Tigers defeated Marian High School (Framingham) in that Super Bowl, and Marian’s principal at the time was Carl DiMaiti, who is now Pope John’s head of school.
“I was at that Super Bowl, it was at Tufts University,” recalled DiMaiti, whose son, Drew, is a graduate of Tufts.
The Tigers have been one of the state’s highest scoring teams, averaging 34 points a game. Senior quarterback Anthony Mejia and Jose Davila lead the Tigers’ potent offense that has thrived under the direction of offensive coordinator Robert Sobolewski (Paul’s brother).
Pope John kept its momentum going in a 26-0 victory over Matignon/St. Joseph Prep on Thanksgiving. St. Bernard’s (11-1) will present a huge test for the Pope John defense. The Saints have defeated Narragansett (44-7), Lunenburg (44-7), and Hoosac Valley (42-0) in state playoffs.
“My reports are that St. Bernard’s is a very tough team,” said DiMaiti. “Their coaching staff stood in the end zone on Thanksgiving morning watching us play Matignon, so I’m sure they’ll be ready. St. Bernard’s has been in the Super Bowl a couple of times recently, and I think anytime you go through that and play at Gillette, it gives you an advantage.”
DiMaiti, who was instrumental in St. Mary’s athletic success during his tenure as head of the Lynn school, said the football season has been exciting for everyone at Pope John. He lauded coach Paul Sobolewski, who has done a superb job in leading the Tigers on to the biggest stage (Gillette) in high school sports.
“Coach Sobolewski’s leadership has been absolutely incredible, and it really comes down to someone who works very, very hard and is highly disciplined,” said DiMaiti. “His players reflect both his own personal discipline and the hard work.”
Pope John will have a fan bus leaving from the school at 7:15 a.m.