SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

September 9, 2013

Big Blue have big work to do

By Matt Williams
Staff writer

---- — SWAMPSCOTT — Excellent quarterback play and timely chunks of yardage picked up by an opportunistic running back are common sights at Swampscott’s Blocksidge Field.

It’s not normally the team in white making those plays, however.

The Big Blue swallowed the bitter taste of their own medicine Saturday, where Triton ran the spread to perfection in a 33-7 victory over the hosts.

Vikings quarterback Brad Whitman threw for 173 yards and two scores and running back Justin Spillane added 141 yards on the ground as Triton averaged better than eight yards a snap.

Swampscott’s offense, on the other hand, was out of sync most of the afternoon. The Big Blue produced 167 yards and far too few scoring opportunities. Missed reads, dropped passes and short gains were the norm for the hosts as Triton made clutch grabs and picked up yardage in chunks.

“This didn’t look like it’s drawn up today and that’s my fault,” said Swampscott head coach Steve Dembowski. “I have to coach better and we have to find a way to play better.”

The Big Blue had their moments — a couple of nice catches by Anthony Rizzo, Brendan McDonald’s TD pass to Mike Faia and two sacks by Mike McCuish among them. Swampscott needs to find some consistency in a short week before Thursday’s game against defending Catholic Central League champ St. Mary’s of Lynn.

“If we don’t win this week, we’re really in trouble (in terms of the playoffs),” said Dembowski. “The good thing for us is St. Mary’s will come right out and hit us in the face. That’s how they play, and we’ll know pretty early in the game how we respond to that.”

Early in Saturday’s game, Swampscott fell behind 14-0. Nicholas Desrocher opened the scoring with an end-around. After the Big Blue went 3-and-out, Triton scored again on a Whitman pass to Mark Boyle.

McDonald (9-of-27, 100 yards, TD, 3 INT) led his team on its only scoring drive by converting a pair of third downs with his legs. He then found Faia from 16 yards out, and Jeremy Epstein’s PAT made it 14-7.

On the next possession, McCuish sacked Whitman to bring up 3rd-and-20. Triton tight end Mark Boyle found a seam up the middle, however, and hauled in a backbreaking 45-yard catch as the Big Blue failed to get the ball back before halftime.

“Huge,” said Triton coach Patrick Sheehan, whose team beat the Big Blue for the first time in four tries. “We turned it over on the previous drive and were backed up. Mark Boyle had a great game today; he ran that route well and Brad delivered a perfect pass.”

With poise, Whitman drove his team the rest of the way and found Desrocher for a 9-yard score. Instead of escaping the half down just one score, Swampscott trailed 21-7.

“That was killer,” said Dembowski. “What we got was a healthy dose of great coaching and good execution by Triton. They neutralized all our strengths.”

Spillane broke two tackles on his way to a 51-yard score (“He made us look silly,” said Dembowski) as the Vikes pulled ahead, 27-6. Whitman added a rushing TD in the fouth, and Swampscott went three-and-out on three straight drives in the interim. The Big Blue also turned it over on three McDonald interceptions.

“Brendan put a lot of pressure on himself. It’s a tough spot to be down 2-3 scores in the second half of your first start,” said Dembowski. “He’ll improve. He’ll be fine.”

Ben Faulkner and Faia each hauled in three balls for Swampscott. The Big Blue were outgained 410-167 in total yardage.