Magicians begin NEC season at Peabody Friday hoping for quick turnaround

The Marblehead Football Magicians (0-3) were beating visiting North Andover at halftime last Friday night, 7-3. But then, just like the opener against Bishop Fenwick, the second half unfortunately belonged to the opposition.

The Scarlet Knights went on to score 19 unanswered points in the second half to beat the struggling Magicians, 22-7. Coach Jim Rudloff has never lost three in a row since taking over the program in 2009, but he knows it’s pretty much a transition year with many first-year varsity starters dotting the roster.

But the hope is still there for them to reach the usual team goals

“Yes, it’s true, our team has a lot of first-year starters at key positions on all sides of the ball, but we have also played very good teams, and that has put us in situations at times where we had to be perfect to win,” Rudloff said. “But that perfection has been elusive.

“Moving forward, we are fortunate enough that our [divisional schedule] doesn’t start for another week against Beverly,” the coach added, “and with that said our goals remain the same, and that’s to have a winning record, win the [division], make the playoffs and win a state championship. As of right now, all of those goals are still ahead of us. We just need to get healthy, continue working hard and improve our mental and physical approach to our practices.”

Against North Andover, the Marblehead defense stopped the Scarlet Knights on their first two drives, forcing them to punt both times. They allowed just a 31-yard field goal by Camden Bethel with 3:18 remaining in the second quarter to give the visitors a short-lived lead, thanks to a smooth-running drive that ended with a touchdown.

Junior quarterback Colt Wales completed five straight passes during that sequence. Rylan Golden caught two of those aerials. Wales’ efficiency set up Ryan Commoss for a 10-yard touchdown reception. Sure-footed Greg Motorny then added the extra point. It appeared at that point the Magicians had wrestled the momentum away from North Andover.

The offense had four chances in the second half, but to no avail, while Drew Fitzgerald and Michael McNaught ran for two second half touchdowns to help North Andover to the comeback victory. Jake Saalfrank accounted for their final score on a seven-yard pass from Fitzgerald.

Brady Selvais and Wales combined for 14 rushing yards, while North Andover’s Zach Wolinski had 208 yards on 27 carries. McNaught was their second leading rusher with 84 yards.

Through the air, Wales completed 20 passes for 132 yards. Golden caught three of them for 34 yards. Brooks Keefe was on the receiving end of seven passes for 33 yards. Commoss hauled in five passes for 29 yards. Chris DeWitt caught three for 27 yards. Crew Monaco and Selvais each made one catch.

“We’ve had gritty performances from Jake Scogland, Chris DeWitt and Brooks Keefe among others,” said Rudloff. “But we’re asking some players to take on a big role, and it’s a big process. Each of us needs to improve a little bit every day in practice, and that will translate moving forward in the games.” 

The Magicians will finally begin their Northeastern Conference schedule Sept. 29 against

non-divisional host Peabody, starting at 7 p.m. The Tanners are 3-0 heading into this showdown against a team that’s desperate for a win. Peabody has already defeated Revere (35-0), Lynn Classical (31-14) and Beverly (28-0) just last week to account for its undefeated record.

“Peabody, as we know, poses a big challenge for us,” Rudloff said. “They are big, fast and well-coached.”

But through a concerted effort in practice, Rudloff knows that his current group of players is capable of anything to succeed on the gridiron.

Joe McConnell | + posts

Leave a Reply