By Paul Halloran
---- — SWAMPSCOTT – In analyzing Swampscott’s improbable but convincing 25-16 win over Marblehead at Blocksidge Field Thursday, it is natural to speculate that the Magicians were still suffering the emotional fallout from a loss to Beverly less than two weeks ago that decided the CAL/NEC Div 2 title.
Jim Rudloff does not see it that way.
“I don’t think today had anything to do with the Beverly game,” the Marblehead coach said. “Today was about being outcoached, outplayed and out-motivated … We got our (butts) kicked.”
That sums up what transpired before a crowd of about 3,000 on a perfect day for football. While the score and statistics were reasonably close, once the Big Blue jumped out to a 13-0 lead in the second quarter, you never had the feeling they were going to lose.
“I thought it was important for us to get the first score and win the first quarter,” Swampscott Coach Steve Dembowski said. “To get out of it 0-0 was good. I told our guys the longer we could stay in the heavyweight match, the more pressure on (Marblehead).”
The Magicians blinked first in the form of two key offside penalties, the latter of which prevented them from taking over on downs when the Big Blue threw an incomplete pass on fourth-and-four from the Marblehead 23. Five plays later, Swampscott quarterback Brian Santry found Josh Rothwell wide open over the middle for an 11-yard TD with 5:41 left in the half.
The completion was one of eight straight that Santry had to close out the second quarter. The senior co-captain continued his precision-like passing in the second half, finishing 18 for 23 overall for 212 yards and two TDs. He also rushed for two TDs.
“This is unbelievable … surreal,” Santry said. “This is what the Big Blue does. You can never count us out.”
You could say the Big Blue (5-6) were somewhat down and out coming into the game, having lost three straight games by a combined score of 118-33. And even though the Magicians were coming off the 35-14 loss to Beverly, they were 8-2 and unilaterally considered a solid favorite – especially by the opposing coach.
“We were a major underdog, but I kind of liked it,” Dembowski said. “And the kids really responded. The plan worked well. We executed mentally and physically.”
After Swampscott sophomore Ryan January came up with his second interception to stifle a Marblehead drive late in the first half, the Big Blue took over at their own 15 with 1:11 left, and no one would have questioned Dembowski if they took a knee and went into the locker room with a one-touchdown lead.
“I thought about it,” he said. “But then we had a good run on first down (11 yards by Santry) and we completed a pass on a double move (Santry to Robert Serino for 29 yards).” Following two more completions, Dembowski came up with a trick play – Santry lateraling to Aaron Cronin who lateraled back across the field to Santry, who scored from 20 yards out virtually untouched to make it 13-0 at the half.
“We executed,” Dembowski said. “Everything we drew up and planned worked to perfection.”
Marblehead capitalized on its only possession of the third quarter, going 89 yards in 10 plays, capped by a 4-yard Zac Cuzner TD run and Joe Newall PAT that made it 13-7, but the Big Blue responded on their next possession, Santry connecting with Cronin on a 41-yard TD pass to make it 19-7.
Mark Rittiboon stuffed Marblehead’s Brooks Tyrrell on fourth down at the Swampscott 3 early in the fourth, but Santry was tackled in the end zone for a safety to make it 19-9. The Magicians got great field position after the free kick and went 40 yards in five plays, with Cuzner’s 7-yard run cutting the Swampscott lead to three with 5:10 left.
Once again, however, the Big Blue proved they could take a punch – and counter. Swampscott went 68 yards in 10 plays to put it away, capped by Santry’s 4-yard run.
“Santry is as smart and as tough as any quarterback I’ve had,” Dembowski said. “I knew he had to have a great day for us to have a chance.”
The Big Blue had more than a puncher’s chance in this tilt, and while it may not have ended in a knockout, Rudloff would be the first to admit it was a unanimous decision.
“We got beat in all phases of the game,” Rudloff said. “I wish I could be more flowery about it. We were outplayed at every position. This season, we overachieved; today, we underachieved.”
Swampscott 25, Marblehead 16
at Blocksidge Field, Swampscott
Marblehead (8-3) 0 0 7 9 — 16
Swampscott (5-6) 0 13 0 12 — 25
S-Josh Rothwell 11 pass from Brian Santry (Corey Carmody kick)
S-Santry 20 run (kick failed)
M-Zac Cuzner 4 run (Joe Newall kick)
S-Aaron Cronin 41 pass from Santry (rush failed)
M-Cuzner 7 run (Newall kick)
S-Santry 4 run (kick blocked)
RUSHING: Marblehead — Ian Maag 16-65, Zac Cuzner 9-50, Brooks Tyrrell 11-37; Swampscott — Aaron Cronin 8-47, Brian Santry 15-44, Michael Faia 2-3.
PASSING: Marblehead — Maag 10-19-126-0-2; Swampscott — Santry 18-23-212-2-0.
RECEIVING: Marblehead — Dylan Cressy 3-43, Jeremy Gillis 3-34, Will Millett 2-38, Nick Perry 2-11; Swampscott — Robert Serino 6-92, Cronin 6-80, Josh Rothwell 5-42, Ben Faulkner 1-(-2).
you ought to know The 1972 Swampscott High team was recognized at halftime on the 40th anniversary of its victory over Catholic Memorial, 28-21, in the first MIAA Super Bowl. About 30 members of the team were present, including Mike Jauron and Scott McCallum, who connected on the winning touchdown pass. Assistant coaches Dick Lynch, Fran York and Bill Bush were also in attendance. The Swampscott and Marblehead marching bands combined on a crisp rendition of the Star Spangled Banner. Birds-eye view: As he does occasionally, Swampscott Coach Steve Dembowski watched the first quarter from the roof of the press box, returning to the sidelines to start the second. "I've done it four times this year," he said. "I like to look at their defense and see how they adjust to our formations. I get an idea of what different looks we are going to get." When Swampscott QB Brian Santry hit Robert Serino for a 29-yard gain on the Swampscott sideline with :45 left in the first half, Big Blue assistant coach celebrated with a leap that would have made his high jumpers proud (Bush coaches winter and spring track at Swampscott). Santry, in his first year as the starting QB, finished the year with 2,065 yards passing and 14 TDs, and 427 yards rushing and 11 TDs. For Marblehead, QB Ian Maag finished with 675 yards rushing, Brooks Tyrrell had 612 yards and Zac Cuzner had 568 and scored 13 TDs overall. Swampscott extended its streak of winning at least five games to 12 years. The last time the Big Blue won fewer than five was 2000, when they went 4-7. In the 19 years Dembowksi has been on the coaching staff, including 14 as head coach, the Big Blue have never lost to Marblehead two years in a row. "I thought that was in major jeopardy today," he said.