After giving up 19 points in the first half to the Malden Golden Tornadoes, the Swampscott Big Blue shut out their opponent for the remainder of the game, and won a close matchup, 27-19, in a brisk afternoon at Blocksidge Field.
Swampscott’s defense had trouble stopping running back Ray Sainristil and quarterback Jake Martino in the first half. However, the Blue did not allow the Malden offense past the 19-yard-line in the second half. The most important stop came on a Sainristil run on 4th and 1 on the Swampscott 35-yard-line with 1:07 left to go, which, thanks to the Big Blue defensive line, fell short of the first down marker, sealing the game for Swampscott.
“We just started reading our keys, and started getting accustomed with the speed that [Malden] played with,” said Coach Steve Dembowski about his defense’s play in the second half. “[Our offense] didn’t put our defense in bad field position in the second half, which allowed them to give up a couple first downs and get the ball back.”
Malden had four possessions in the second half, but could not put anything up on the board. Their first possession was a drive all the way to the Swampscott 19-yard-line, but an incomplete pass on 4th down forced a turnover on downs. In their second possession, Malden tried to punt on 4th down and 12 from their own 38-yard-line, but a high snap forced Sainristil to chase after it, and he got tackled on his own 15-yard-line. Four plays later, a Santry pass to Cronin made it 27-19 with four minutes left in the 4th quarter.
The game's scoring started with Malden getting on the board. Although the Golden Tornadoes did not score on their first possession, a Sainristil touchdown with 5:06 left in the 1st quarter gave them a 7-0 lead. Sainristil also broke out for a huge 65-yard touchdown run in at the end of the first quarter. But, the early Malden scores did not intimidate Brian Santry and the Blue.
Three plays after Malden’s first touchdown, Santry made a 74-yard touchdown pass to Aaron Cronin to put the Blue down by one. Cronin avoided several tackles after the catch, which his head coach noticed.
“Aaron is a true receiver,” said Dembowski. “We’ve asked him to play running back so he can get the ball more than the five times as a wideout, and because of that, he makes plays.”
Santry was not done after the incredible first-quarter pass. In a ten play, 3:54 drive, Santry ran it in for a touchdown from his own three-yard-line. After forcing Malden to punt on the following possession, Santry completed five out of eight passes, the last one being a touchdown toss to Josh Rothwell, to put the Blue up, 20-19, at the end of the first half.
“Offensively, I thought that second quarter was huge for us,” said Dembowski. Santry just sparks the team. He’s a really good football player, and the wideouts, particularly Alex Powell today, made catches with guys all over them. That was really huge to get the lead at the end of the second quarter.”
Coach Dembowski was really proud of the effort from his senior quarterback.
“[Santry is] a gutsy football player. He carried us in the second quarter. There’s no doubt about it. He ran the ball, he threw the ball, and yes, the wideouts made some huge catches, but he’s making the right reads. He’s good. We just need everyone to play at his level.”
Dembowski also appreciated the effort from his special teams unit today, particularly Aidan Brawley.
“He’s got a good engine, he’s in great shape, and he’s got a strong leg. He’s a good example for the rest of the team.”
The only problem Dembowski had was a questionable fake punt inside the Swampscott 20-yard-line early in the first quarter.
“We’re learning on the run, and that decision to run the punt there was not a good one. We’ll coach him up on that, and hopefully, we’ll get better.”
The Big Blue Marching Band performed El Cumbanchero during today’s halftime, quickly followed by a cadence from the drumline. The band sounds better than ever, thanks to the leadership of Scott Winship, along with drum majors Kristen Foaksman and Taylorlyn Stephan.
Swampscott begins divisional play next week, as they will face off against Salem at noon in Blocksidge Field. Dembowski looks forward to the challenge that his young, growing team will face.
“We saw them in 7-on-7 this summer, they’re well coached, they have schemes, a run game, and a quarterback who can beat you by himself if you let him. We’re certainly going to be challenged right off the bat in the league.”
As he headed back to the locker room, Dembowski took a deep breath of relaxtion.
“Man,” he said, “it feels good to be 3-3 again.”