On the surface, the average high school football fan around the state might have looked over Friday night’s scores and figured it was business as usual at Piper Field.
Marblehead won again, this time in thrilling comeback fashion over non-league Lynnfield, 26-18 at Piper Field. It was the team’s 22nd straight win, which is longest current streak among football teams in the state.
But that was far from the biggest part of the story.
Prior to the Friday night kickoff, coach Jim Rudloff and the team found out that the father of junior lineman Jake Scogland had passed away while working out.
When he came to Rudloff with the news, Jake said he wanted to play in the game against Lynnfield. Because of injuries, Jake ended up playing both offensive tackle and defensive end.
“I think the huge thing about this team is that we are family,” senior captain Connor Cronin told the Marblehead News via Twitter. “Having such a great team and teammates around each other every day helps us all become great people in life.”
Since winning the Division 3 Super Bowl championship last December at Gillette Stadium, the Magicians have had to deal with far less joyful matters. Their Super Bowl teammate, James Galante, was killed in an automobile accident in March, and now they are grieving all over again for Jake’s dad and their former coach, Jeff Scogland.
But somehow, the team has been able to channel their emotions to keep the long winning streak intact.
“After the passing of my friend James, I really recognized how close this family and community really is,” Cronin said. “The news that we received Friday before our game (against Lynnfield) was truly devastating, but Jake was the strongest kid that day. He played for his dad and made him very proud.
Cronin continued, “I knew that we would again have to have a real sense of community around this disaster, and help our teammates who needed it. Our team (had to deal with) incredible adversity that day after such a long day.”
The Magicians were trailing, 18-7, before captain Cronin ignited the comeback by outleaping his Lynnfield counterpart in the end zone to complete a 40-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Miles O’Neill as time was running out in the first half.
“Being down by two scores with one minute to go in the second half, I knew that we were going to fight together and make plays all around the field to win that game, and that’s what we did,” Cronin said. “We climbed back into the game, and won it. But we would not have been able to do this without Jake and his strong heart.”
Cronin’s touchdown trimmed the halftime deficit to 18-13. His classmate Shane Keough then put the home team ahead in the third quarter, when he opportunistically picked up a loose ball on a Lynnfield punt attempt and scooted 11 yards for what turned out to be the game-winning score.
O’Neill provided some more insurance with an 11-yard scoring strike to Aven Denbow with nine minutes to play in the game. The Marblehead defense then took over to stymie the Pioneers offense on three consecutive possessions.
O’Neill got his teammates on the board in the first quarter with a six-yard touchdown pass to Andy Palmer. But the Pioneers then scored the next 18 points before the Marblehead boys regrouped to to keep their winning streak alive.
The Magicians are now getting ready to take on non-league host North Andover Friday night (Sept. 23), starting at 6 p.m.
They will then begin the Northeastern Conference season at home against Peabody on Friday, Sept. 30, beginning at 6:30 p.m.