Pat Dever touched the ball on every offensive snap he played this past season for the St. John’s Prep football team. As the center on the offensive line, that was the Tufts Street resident’s job.
The final time he touched the ball in his high school career, however, was to run out the clock on a Super Bowl title, capping a 13-0 slugfest victory over Springfield Central at Gillette Stadium on Dec. 3.
But as the 6-foot, 230-pound lineman tells it, there was much deeper meaning in that moment than a whistle that meant he’d earned a ring.
“I remember going to Prep games with my dad, who graduated in 1985, when I was little,” says Devers, 17, who also credits junior guard Wells Gillett, also a Marblehead resident, for the Eagles’ success up front.
“I always wanted to be a part of something bigger than myself, and St. John’s gave me that,” he says. “There are big games every week here; that’s why I chose the Prep.”
Dever says the “icing on the cake” was seeing all his Marblehead friends, who had won their own Super Bowl a year earlier, soaking wet at Gillette after watching him play.
“I played with them for years in Marblehead Youth Football, and those bonds never broke,” he says. “I’ll always remember hugging my dad after that game, too. It was a real full-circle moment.”
Relationships were also a part of what gave the 2022 Eagles (11-2) their gridiron mettle, according to teammate and fellow Marblehead resident, Matt Callahan, a junior who started at outside linebacker.
“I think our personality as a team and how we worked together was critical,” says the Glendale Road resident, 16. “We all trusted one another and knew that the guy on our right and left could do what they needed to do. In practice, our scout team always stepped up and got the starters ready for our opponents. Our coaches were also really close with us all, and they formed relationships with each one of us. We all hold each other accountable in this way as well.”
Prep football head coach Brian St. Pierre sees both Dever and Callahan as coaches on the field.
“Pat is undersized, but he is a grinder,” says St. Pierre, who has won three titles in his eight seasons on the job. “He works extremely hard, and he was really an extension of the coaching staff to some degree from his center position. He had good command of what we were trying to do offensively, and really took the lead up front along the offensive line for us this year.”
St. Pierre continued, “Matt, on the other hand, is an edge player for us, so he’s physical enough to play the run, but he’s also athletic enough to drop into coverage. Matt has a high football IQ. As the season went along, you could see him growing into his role, and he became one of our leaders on defense.”
Prep athletes’ favorite things
SCHOOL SUBJECT: History
ATHLETE: Matt Judon
SPORT ASIDE FROM OWN: Snowboarding
PREGAME/COMPETITION SONG: “1942 Flows,” by Meek Mills
PREGAME RITUAL: “Text my grandpa”
SNEAKER: Air Force 1
PREGAME MEAL: Chipotle
SELF-COOKED MEAL: Crepes
BEVERAGE: Arnold Palmer
PRACTICE DRILL: 1-v-1 pass rush
SCHOOL SUBJECT: History
ATHLETE: Rex Burkhead
SPORT ASIDE FROM OWN: Baseball
PREGAME/COMPETITION SONG: “Ain’t No Rest For The Wicked,” by Cage The Elephant
PREGAME RITUAL: “Organize my locker”
PREGAME MEAL: Italian sub
SELF-COOKED MEAL: French Toast
PRACTICE DRILL: Flatbacks
Chad Konecky is a communications specialist for St. John’s Prep.