Photo: Belmont RB Chad Francis runs for his third consecutive 200-plus yard performance against Woburn.
After a disheartening start to the season which saw three losses in close games, the Belmont High School football Marauders has put together a three game winning streak culminating in a comprehensive 42-7 beatdown of Woburn Friday night, Oct. 25 and securing a second consecutive playoff appearance for the Marauders.
“It was just definitely one of those days where you know what we were calling seemed to be working. I’m just super excited for those guys,” said Belmont Head Coach Yann Kumin after the game.
With Billerica’s loss to North Andover, 35-0, the Marauders leaped over the Indians into the eighth and final playoff slot in the Divison 3 North sectionals. For the second year running, Belmont will head to Danvers to meet the undefeated Falcons in a quarterfinal matchup at 7 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 1.
The win marks the first time in Kumin’s tenure where the Marauders have produced a winning record against Middlesex Liberty opponents at 3-2 going into the playoffs.
While Belmont has resounding wins in the past decade, they usually were against non-league opponents outside of the playoffs. Against Woburn, which has defeated Belmont handily over the past decade, the victory Friday over the league rival was through and complete.
On offense, running back Chad Francis ran for this third consecutive 200+ yard game with 210 yards that included touchdowns of 3, 95 and 25 yards. Not to be outdone, senior co-captain Zach Hubbard gathered in three TDs on five catches for 143 yards, all coming from senior QB Avery Arno who was 8 for 11 for 174 yards.
For his performance, Francis was for the third consecutive week named a Player of the Week by one of the two major Boston media outlets: the first two by the Boston Herald and this week in the Boston Globe.
Arno was also named a Division 3 player of the week by the Herald for Friday’s achievement.
The defense, playing without capstone senior lineman Derek Brown due to injury, was stellar in the game halting the Tanners twice on fourth down attempts inside the red zone (at the 20 and 5) while taking down a timely interception in the second quarter. Once again, the hogs on Belmont’s D line were immense in their ability to put a clamp on the Tanners’ run game.
Belmont dominated the first quarter recovering a fumble on the opening kick off then seeing Francis blasting it in for 6 from the 3 yard line on the third play from scrimmage. The Tanner’s threatened on its first full possession but saw its attempt with 4th down on the 20 fail. Soon after taking control of the ball, Aron found Hubbard all alone down the right sideline and he sprinted in for Belmont’s second touchdown.
Tanners took the subsequent kickoff down to Belmont’s 10 yard line. But a pair of passes into the end zone were defended by junior DB Preston Jackson-Stephens to end that threat.
On the first play after getting back the ball, Francis found a seem on the left side of the line and rumbled 95 yards for his second TD with 25 seconds in the quarter which end with the Marauders on top, 21-0.
In the second quarter, after senior Justin Rocha returned a Tanners punt to the Belmont 44, it was just a matter of time before Francis capped his hat trick with a 25 yard sweep around the left end for the score making it 28-0.
With the Tanners playing catch-up, a long pass was intercepted by Jackson-Stephens who returned the ball 35 yards to the Belmont 40. A few players later, Arno spotted Hubbard in the end zone and completed a throw-and-catch to his WR for his second TD of the half.
Belmont would bounce into the locker room up 35-0 at the half. Game, set and match.
“We’ve taken some knocks but our attitude has been next man up this whole season. I give all my credit here to the positional coaches and the guys who are doing the day-to-day work, the grunt work and embracing that and understanding that your moment can come at any time,” said Kumin.