Madison Park tries to cook up breakfast of champions before early-morning Super Bowl matchup with Cathedral
After beating Bristol-Plymouth in the Division 4A semifinals Tuesday night in Weymouth, some members of the Madison Park camp griped about their early Super Bowl time slot Saturday morning at Gillette Stadium.
But Alexis Santiago wasn’t complaining about playing Cathedral High at 9 a.m.
“I don’t believe it will be rough,” said the senior running back who recovered two fumbles against Bristol-Plymouth. “[My teammates] will come to realize what they need to do. So they’re going to go to bed early, hopefully. I will make sure personally that they go to bed. I’ll text them, call them, everything. Give them sleeping pills or something. I’m going to wake up at 6, go on my little jog and head to the school."
Madison Park (8-4) will be looking for its first Super Bowl title.
Tuesday night's win was the Cardinals' first playoff victory. Madison Park lost Super Bowls in 1997 and 1998 but at that time the Boston City League North Division winner had an automatic bid to the Super Bowl.
“We were placed in different divisions so we were totally outclassed at the previous Super Bowls,” Madison Park coach Roosevelt Robinson said after Tuesday night’s 18-6 victory.
“I’ve been coaching 21-plus [years] and never played at Gillette. Taking the kids is something special, for this group of kids this is special.”
Robinson credited assistant coach (and boys’ basketball coach) Dennis Wilson with helping the team get to this point.
“This is my profession, this is something I and Coach Wilson do, I don’t do this by myself,” he said. “And if you look at the stats and see what we do at Madison Park we’re happy because this is what we do. This is our life and we enjoy it.”
Winning Saturday's game will be no small order either.
One of the fastest teams in the state, Cathedral (10-2) is playing with a chip on its shoulder. In last year's Super Bowl, Cathedral’s go-ahead touchdown was called back in the final minutes because of a controversial excessive celebration penalty; the quarterback briefly raised his arm before scoring, and the infraction cost Cathedral the game.
“That plays a lot into it, they know what it took and why they lost and they are coming back,” Robinson said during a telephone interview from Gillette Stadium. “Yeah, and we’re trying to get our first [Super Bowl win].
“Hey, we have to get there. There are a lot of champions. It’s a day of champions and we’re going to try to be one of the champions.”
Robinson said he's only seen Cathedral play briefly, early in the season. He did not let on to his plans for slowing Cathedral's speed other than to say they run a spread offense similar Latin Academy's. The Dragons beat Madison Park, 22-20, on a 25-yard touchdown pass as time expired in the second game of the season.
But Madison park has some speed of its own, specifically tight end David Stewart, whose 72-yard kickoff return for a touchdown put MP ahead, 18-6, against Bristol-Plymouth.
“We do have speed and David, he’s an all-around athlete, track, football and he has speed, he’s a big guy and he has great hands,” Robinson said after Tuesday’s win. “So we can throw him a ball [and] he can run. We’re just trying to get him to our potential.”
Robinson said he believes Saturday’s Super Bowl will be the program’s best shot at winning a state title for some time to come. That’s because the new statewide playoff system, starting next year, will require teams to win at least two playoff games before qualifying for the Super Bowl.
Currently, the Boston City League North champ plays one playoff game before the Division 4A Super Bowl and the South champ automatically goes to the Division 5 Super Bowl.
Robinson, who dressed only 27 players Tuesday, argues that city schools have a tougher time getting players to come out for football. And by late November and December, many of their two-way starters are banged up or sidelined.
“This year and the last few years were very good with the parody,” Robinson said. “Now we’re going to something very foreign. I think we had a fair shot this time around and now they’re going to change it.
“We’re going to try going to win some games. We got to this point and we’re very happy.”
Nobody will be happier to wake up early for Saturday morning's Super Bowl than Santiago, who said his breakfast of champions will be "whatever my mom cooks me.”
About Boston Public Schools Sports BlogMore »
- Justin A. Rice -- A metro Detroit native, Rice is a Michigan State University (Go Spartans!) and Northeastern University graduate. Rice lives in the South End with his dog and wife, who unfortunately attended the University of Michigan ... his wife, that is. He curates the BPS Sports Blog and is always looking to write about city athletes with great stories. Have an idea? He can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @GlobeJustinRice or @BPSspts.
- Ryan Butler -- A Rhode Island native and avid Boston sports fan, Butler played basketball, baseball and football throughout his time in Barrington Public Schools. Now currently in his middler year at Northeastern University, he joins Boston.com as a correspondent for the site's BPS coverage. Have a story idea? Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on his Twitter @butler_globe.