“Marblehead should also be in the mix.”
Those were the seven words devoted to the Magicians in my preseason football playoff predictions in mid-August.
Three months later, not only is Marblehead in the mix, the Magicians are one of two teams left standing in Division 3 Northeast. They play top-seeded and undefeated Tewksbury on Saturday (1:30 p.m.) for the right to play on against the Division 3 Northwest winner next week.
For the record, this scribe’s preseason final pick was Beverly vs. Masconomet. I had a feeling Tewskbury would be good, but wasn’t sure how they’d survive playing up in the rugged Merrimack Valley Conference, which over the last 3-4 years evolved into one of the best in the state.
Another program that’s evolved the last 3-4 years is Marblehead. The Magicians have become the team you simply can’t ignore on the North Shore.
First, let’s take a look at their obstacle, the Redmen. They’re 9-0 and they’ve spent most of the season pounding the opposition. They only allowed more than two TDs in the regular season in a game against D2 North finalist Lincoln-Sudbury (Tewskbury won, 27-21) and in a 42-21 win over Dracut.
Things tightened up a bit last week, when the Redmen held on to beat Gloucester, 28-25 in the sectional semi-finals. James Sullivan ran for over 100 yards and scored four TDs for Tewskbury (three rushing, one receiving) in the win, but Tewksbury is a deep, athletic team.
The Redman have some pedigree, having been to the playoffs last year and falling in the Super Bowl in 2011. They’re on the hunt for their first Super Bowl title since 1996.
Marblehead is searching for its first ever Super Bowl title, and in the four and a half seasons since coach Jim Rudloff took over, they’ve become a team that’s more than capable of getting there.