The Marinelli Missives - #5

Losses can bring you down, and it's easy to let your emotions erupt in a fit of self-destruction. Fortunately, athletes are more stable than fans, and Chris Marinelli's high school team proved as much this weekend. After a surprising and disheartening 0-4 start, BC High pulled out an inspiring upset on the road...

It was less than a year ago when 2-2 BC High took on an unknown central Massachusetts team from Leominster. They looked decent on film, and they had the record of a good team, but we refused to believe that some farmers from the central portion of the state would knock us off. Well, some 44 minutes later, sure enough the scoreboard revealed the crushing loss, 28-6. Led by Anthony Bizzoto, perhaps the best running back in the 2005 class in Massachusetts, Leominster rolled over us on offense, and continued the trend on defense. Wow, what a lesson we learned that evening in front of our home fans.

Only a few weeks short of a year later, the 0-4 BC High Eagles made the trek west to battle yet another stacked Leominster squad. Ranked number one in central Mass at 3-1, the Blue Devils of Leominster maintained their all state RB/ILB as well as a talented supporting cast. Some two and a half hours after leaving school in Boston, we arrived in the intimidating atmosphere of Doyle Field in Leominster. Not many BC High fans made the journey, and the hometown band, cheerleaders, and even referees added to our troubles. With little time to warm up and few supporters, we decided to play this one for ourselves.

A fairly even-played first half, where Leominster scored once and we continuously drove but came up empty, showed 6-0 on the scoreboard. The half ended with controversy, as the clock sneakily struck zero as we stood eight inches away from possibly taking the lead. Apparently the clock on the scoreboard was unofficial, and the hometown referees refused to give us any notice of the time remaining. The event seemed painful at first, but soon added fuel to the explosion over opponents were about to see. Leominster would face an entirely different foe in the second half.

Complete focus and intensity fall severely short of describing the elements that comprised the BC High team that took the field after the half. If we weren't going to win the game, than for the first time of the year we were going to win the fight. The defense drew comparison to a brick wall, allowing zero first downs, under 30 total yards, and forcing three turnovers in 22 minutes of play. Each time they prayed that just for once the offense would come through. We refused to let them down again, and so we kept on pounding. Run right, run left, run right, pass, etc. Crushing blocking and running began to wear down on the Leominster defense. Fatigue was evident as they stood hunched over, waiting for us to approach the line. The confidence belonged entirely to us. The offensive line punished the front seven with pancake after pancake, and every now then mixing thing's up with a cut block. The tired opponent had their backs against the wall, and this time we decided to drive them right through it.

A surprise hook and ladder play brought us down into the red zone, and after numerous off-tackle plays we struck gold. With the score knotted at 6-6, the Leominster offense tried to get into some type of rhythm with their running game. But time and time again, Bizzoto was buried in the backfield. On one particular play, he forgot to bring the ball with him. A fumble recovery in Leominster territory brought us that much closer. More pounding, and a few clutch fourth down conversions, led to our second rushing touchdown of the game. The swinging gate setup for the extra point confused the tired defense. So we decided to run one in behind the split out offensive line.

Leominster had a final opportunity to march down and tie up the game, but on a third and long, we picked one off to essentially seal the contest. Adding a few more first downs for good measure, we ran the clock out to secure our first win. Although the offense was still not immaculate, and the special teams could have been better, we took the victory without hesitation. When all was said and done, the offense rolled for a season high 250 yards, with two touchdowns and one turnover (interception). Defensively, we allowed 88 total yards, one touchdown, forced three turnovers, allowed zero completed passes, kept Bizzoto under 40 yards, and forced several three-and-outs. Personally, I played my best game of the year at offensive tackle. Also, I had three tackles and a batted ball in split time defensively.

Stats aside, this victory proved so much more. As a whole, we showed no sense of fatigue, and forced various penalties by Leominster. This game was a team effort; the sideline never quieted and the intensity only escalated each play. But to top it all off, we had fun. After every play we trotted back to the huddle with a smile upon our faces, and waited anxiously to do it again on the next play. Notice no BC High names were given in this missive, because it is the team that deserves credit for the victory. Without one solitary thing, this upset may never have occurred. BC High may appear as 1-4 in local newspapers, but there seems to be a different team of late which so far stands at 1-0. With continued play, it may just be scary to see where this BC High Eagles football team heads. Can the rest of Massachusetts handle it?

Chris Marinelli is a 6'7" offensive tackle recruit in the 2005 class who verbally committed to Stanford in July.  He is writing a weekly series this fall to deliver Cardinal fans insight into the triumphs and travails of his senior season at Boston College High School.

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