The contest between Belmont High School and Arlington was never in doubt.
The Spy Ponders came into Belmont’s Harris Field on Thursday night, Oct. 2, riding an impressive 3-0 start to the season, dusting off with ease three established programs while the host Marauders had taken a series of lumps since opening the 2014 campaign four weeks ago.
But a participant at the game said before the teams came out onto the field for Belmont’s first home game on the new Harris turf field – along with the White Field House were renovated over the summer – that the game’s outcome was irrelevant to its purpose.
“The score means nothing because this game marks the start of a new time for Belmont [football],” he said.
With a new energetic head coach, Yann Kumin, and his young brain trust, an invigorated boosters program, a newly-established Middle School football team and the new infrastructure in place, a renewed sense of enthusiasm and optimism has taken hold around the Belmont football program which 50 years ago in November won their last state championship.
“We are really moving in the right direction. I hate to sound like a broken record, but I’m a pretty honest guy and if I think were taking a step backward I’m gonna say it. But I don’t see that,” said Kumin.
And members of that last championship team – all grey, many retired – led out the squad onto the field. A piper heralded the players – wearing new spiffy camouflage jerseys – onto the south end zone where they huddled and entered their home field for the first time.
In the game, which ended 49-13, Belmont was outmatched by a disciplined Arlington squad that ran through the middle of the Marauders defensive line seemingly at will. On the other side of the ball, Belmont could not get the offense running effectively against a strong SpyPonder defense.
“Obviously, defensively we just have to keep learning and keep growing and as coaches we have to figure out what we need to do a better job,” said Kumin.
“[Arlington Head Coach John] Dubs [Dubzinski] has done a great job over there. He’s done what we’re trying to do here,” said Kumin, referring to Dubzinski’s reconstruction of the Arlington program in four years from the 3-8 team to co-champions with Reading in 2013.
“I have so much respect for their program and their kids. You can tell they are a discipline and classy program,” he said.
Marauder highlights included a pair of long touchdown passes from sophomore QB Chris Christofori to lanky junior WR Justin Wagner, the last TD scored in the final 10 seconds, a several inspired runs by talented running back Michel Johnson.
“It sounds counterintuitive after letting up 41 points in the first half and that’s not what we’re trying to do as a team but I am so proud of this team because there is such a sense of family and togetherness,” Kumin told the Belmontonian.
The problem isn’t that his loss hurt. The problem would have been if it didn’t hurt and they didn’t want to come back on Friday and Saturday to work and continue to grow as a program,” he said.
After the end of the game, Kamin told the team he appreciated the effort each team member has made in the seven weeks since the new Belmont football program began.
“You worked hard for four quarters today. We depended on each other. I am humbled by your work,” said Kamin, adding that when the team wins a Middlesex League title at some future date, he wanted to see the present day seniors, “Max, Mugsy, D Chen, J Paul, Price, Omar on that day and tell you what you started to build, the seed that you planted for this program is growing into something big.”
“If you guys can show the same discipline, focus and heart and pride and energy for the rest of your life that you showed for Marauder football, then I’ll put my head down on the pillow tonight and I’m going to sleep great because you’ll be men I can be proud of.”