Apr. 15—It’s going to be next to impossible for anyone to outfox, outsmart or out finesse the undefeated Marblehead High football team. If anyone’s going to beat the Magicians in this Fall 2 season, it’ll have to come through sheer power.
Masconomet is hoping they have the muscle pull it off. The Chieftains (2-2) host the Magicians (5-0) Friday at Walt Roberts Field in a rare rematch, with Marblehead having won at their place (35-19) two weeks ago.
“We’re all just focusing on the main goal of beating them and playing our best game. We had too many little mistakes last game that really put us at a disadvantage and we were down a couple kids and we have them back this week,” said Masconomet senior captain James Berry. “I think all of us are really motivated and want this win. It’s the last home game for us seniors so it means a lot to us.”
Berry’s co-captain, senior Teddy Fellows, missed that first game at Marblehead with an illness. His return surely helps Masconomet even the matchup in the trenches: He’s a 6-foot-2, 300-pounder with lightning quick feet and the ability to make loud, tone setting blocks on offense while wrecking game plans on defense.
“Marblehead’s a really good team,” said Fellows. “So for the seniors, the opportunity to earn a win against a team like that in our last home game is something we really appreciate.”
The Chieftains couldn’t have asked for better leaders in this pandemic altered season. Berry, a 6-foot-1, 265 pound powerhouse, and Fellows were like pied pipers when it came to getting the team together for socially distanced speed workouts in the fall. That got everyone in shape for the eventual football season and build up great team chemistry.
“They have a real good, strong positive presence about them. The kids really follow those two and gravitate towards them,” Masconomet head coach Gavin Monagle said.
Being linemen, Masco’s pair of captains are more suited to lifting weights than running ladders. Though the team’s trenchmen mostly had to lift on their own through last summer and fall, the group would share big gains over text messages and social media and always encouraged one another.
For Berry, the best lift was the bench press, to help with shedding blockers on defense and getting a good drive going with the hands on offense. Fellows prefers the squat and deadlift to help with his explosion off the line.
“Everybody was always willing to get together for the speed workouts and captain’s practices,” Berry recalled. “Everyone’s been hopeful and encouraging each other since day 1. We were able to get some captain practices and conditioning during the winter and fall socially distanced of course to help the team stay together and build a bond. I think a lot of the kids used the extra time to get bigger and stronger for the season and it shows.”
The progress for both Berry and Fellows led to the opportunity to play college football. Berry will be heading off to St. Lawrence University while Fellows is bound for Plymouth State. Each being Cape Ann League all-stars in 2019 (before Masco moved to the NEC) and having solid game tape from that season definitely helped the process.
“It was different. The tapes helped and once schools opened up a little, them seeing that you got bigger from those short visits,” Berry said.
So what’s the key to slowing down an unbeaten Marblehead team? QB Josh Robertson threw for 194 yards and four scores the first time around, with three of those going to James Doody. Marblehead was balanced, too, with George Percy and Connor Cronin combining for 160 yards on the ground.
“You worry about their talent, first and foremost,” Monagle said. “They’re a really talented team so we have to figure out ways to do things a lot better. Maybe there are some points in the game where you’re going to Plan B.”
Masco’s sophomore QB Matt Richardson had a pretty good day against the Magician defense, throwing for 192 yards and two scores. Mat Nadworny, in his first game of the year, also played well. Emerging Chieftain standouts like Hayden and Corin Canada Hunt are improving with every game; seniors like Trent Bunker, Nick Cantalupo and Danny Fortin are potential X-factors as well.
“The seniors have come up together all the way through since their youth days. They love playing together,” Monagle said. “It’s not too often you get a chance to play a team that beat you again. It almost never happens in football.”
Opening their season on a high note by blanking Danvers, Masco hit a funk with a cancelled game and two straight losses. They righted the ship last week by taking care of Salem at home (matching their total points for the season with 35). They know there are only two games left and they’re determined to make the most of them.
“This season has meant a lot to everyone especially the seniors. A year ago we didn’t know if we would ever play high school football again,” Berry said.