Sports: Football’s Be-Witches-ing Friday Night, Boys’ Soccer Saturday in Chelsea

One week removed from Halloween, Belmont High School football welcomes a coven of witches as Salem High School swoops to Harris Field tonight, Nov. 7 at 7 p.m.

Salem will be seeking to break into the win column having started the season 0-8, including being shutout in their last three games.

Belmont (1-7) is coming off its first victory in two seasons with its victory over Medford, 35-20, on Halloween.

On Saturday, Nov. 8, Belmont’s Boys’ Soccer team will be traveling down Route 16 for a quarterfinal match with hosts Chelsea High School in playoff action in the MIAA Div. 2 North Sectionals. The fifth-seed Marauders (14-3-2) got by North Andover, 1-0, while the fourth-seed Red Devils (15-3-1) defeated Lynn Classical, 1-0, in overtime.

The game kicks off at 4 p.m.

Sports: Playoff Schedule with Boys’ Soccer Monday; Volleyball, Girls’ Soccer Tuesday

Teams and individuals from Belmont High School will be competing in the next few weeks in post season and the playoffs.

• Belmont High School Boys’ Soccer gets their postseason underway with a home Div. 2 North sectional playoff game against North Andover High on Monday, Nov. 3 at 6:30 p.m. at Harris Field. The fifth-seeded Marauders (13-3-2) takes a stingy defense, led by senior goalkeeper Peter Berens, having given up just 10 goals in 18 games vs the 12-seed Scarlet Knights (11-7-0) from the Merrimack Valley Conference Large Division.

• Coming off a nail-biting win over a young Dracut High team Friday night, seventh-seed Belmont Volleyball (16-5) travels next door to take on the second-seed Arlington Catholic High (18-3) in the quarterfinals of the Div. 2 North sectionals on Tuesday, Nov. 4 at 6 p.m. The Cougars are ranked 17th in the Boston Globe top 20.

• There is a score to be settled as Belmont Girls’ Soccer travels to Wilmington High for a Middlesex League clash in the first round of the Div. 2 North sectionals on Tuesday, Nov. 4 at 7 p.m. This will be a chance for Belmont (8-5-5) to revenge a highly-controversial game played last month when, with the game 1-0 in Belmont’s advantage late in the match, a seemingly obvious offsides against Wilmington was not called leading to a goal that allowed Wilmington to stay undefeated in the regular season. There will be little motivation needed by long time Head Coach Paul Graham – who is looking for win 299 – who said after the game the girls “would love to have another go” at the Wildcats.

• With the first win in the books, Belmont High School Football will play their final three games at Harris Field, beginning this Friday, Nov. 7 at 6 p.m. against Salem High of Massachusetts.

• After winning the Middlesex League meet, Belmont Girls’ Swimming prepares for the North Sectionals and then a return to the Div. 2 championships where they will be one of the favorites. And Leah Brams will carry the colors at the EMass Sectional meet on Saturday, Nov. 8 in Wrentham and the All-State meet on Saturday, Nov. 15 in famous Franklin Park in Boston.

Sports: Belmont Football Surge To 35- 20 Win Over Medford, First of Season

After a season in which his team was blown out, were competitive but gave up big plays and struggled against more-established programs, Belmont High School’s first-year Head Coach Yann Kumin was able Friday night, Oct. 31, to look at the big scoreboard at Medford’s Hormel Field announcing that his Belmont High School Football team was now a winner on the field.

After falling behind at the half, 14-7 – “We had some serious hiccups early,” Kumin said – the Marauders (1-7) demonstrated a season’s worth of persistence and effort as they surged for 28 unanswered points to win its first game in nearly two years, 35-20, over Medford High (1-7).

“This is the most amazing feeling in the world. I’m so happy to experience this with these guys, to do it in Belmont. It’s the first of many more to come,” said Kumin after the Halloween night game.

Led by sophomore quarterback Cal Christofori, Belmont rode a stellar night from senior running back and co-captain Max Jones who rushed for three touchdowns as the defense owned the second half, giving up its only touchdown with a minute left in the game.

“We got down in the first half but at the half we said to each other, ‘This is the one. We are not losing this one’,” said Christofori after the game.

“For us who have been here this entire time, and waiting this long, it’s an incredible experience,” Christofori said.

“We got this first win, and now we are rolling,” he said.

As the clock ran down to zero, the joy of accomplishing their first program win resulted in an explosion of emotions. While rarely at a loss for words – always encouraging his team to believe in the coaching and their teammates – “Coach Q” could only hug his assistant coaches (Dave Pereira, Brendan Bonn, Brian Shea, Hakeem Barge, Dick Quigley and Leo Harrington) and players who continuously bellowed their praise for their teammates.

When his assistant coaches presented Kumin the game ball for what is his first win as a high school coach, the 30-year-old had tears in his eyes as his team surrounded him in a boisterous celebration.

“It’s a tribute to these guys,” he said, waving his arm to the players still on the field enjoying the victory. “We are a family in the truest sense of the word. We live and breathe and work and practice for each other.”

“Coming to practice with the adversity that’s facing them and just keep working to get better. I said it a couple of weeks ago; I’m not sure I would have been able to do that in high school. I’m crying right now with absolute pride for this team,” he said.

As the Marauders gathered to leave, the Belmont supporters – mostly parents – stormed the field to greet the coaches and team.
It was only as Kumin was steps from the buses to take the team home did a few players decided to give their coach the traditional “Gatorade shower.”

“I’m a little moist,” said Coach Q, as the players cheered.

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Sports: Belmont Football’s First Home Game A Start In the Right Direction

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.”

Football: Progress As Marauders’ Offense Sparks in 35-21 Loss to Bedford

When senior running back Max Jones scored his second touchdown of the game mid-way through the third quarter, it finally appeared that Belmont High School Football was turning the corner from a team hoping just to be competitive to one on the verge of taking over a game by the scruff of the neck.

Jones’ five-yard run “right up the gut” at 6:16 brought the Marauders within 7 points of host Bedford High School, 28-21, on Friday, Sept. 19, after Belmont’s defense stuffed the Buccaneers on the first three plays of the third quarter and then took advantage of a muffed punt to put the ball deep in Bedford’s end.

“Our guys seized the momentum. It was great,” Belmont’s first-year Head Coach Yann Kumin told the Belmontonian after the game.

But after the resulting kickoff, Belmont’s defense would not leave the field for nearly nine minutes as Bedford grounded out a sustained drive that lasted the entire quarter and then some. Three times Belmont put the Buccaneers in a third or fourth down (4th and 2 yards, 3rd and 5 and 8) only to see Bedford use its stellar rushing attack to convert each time.

“There were a couple of times when we really couldn’t seem to get off the field. We did have some great stops in the first half and then shot ourselves in the foot. That’s just a young and inexperienced player making a mistake,” said Kumin.

Despite the 35-21 loss to the Buccaneers (3-1), Kumin said the goal for the game was to show progress from the last game, which the Marauders showed everywhere on the field.

“I’m really proud how the guys played football tonight. There is a fight in this team,” he said.

After being overwhelmed by a quick Stoneham team in the opener a week earlier, Belmont could not have started the game any more brightly as Jones took the handoff from sophomore Quarterback Cal Christofori down the right sideline 65 yards for a touchdown on the first offensive play of the game.

“[Jones] is  just a tremendous athlete and one of the hardest working guys we have on our team. At any moment when he has the football in his hands, he can make something explosive happen. But he also ground out some tough yards for us,” said Kumin.

Behind the running tandem of Aaron Lee (243 yards) and Jake Eliason (107 yards), Bedford grounded out a 28-7 lead in the second quarter until Belmont RB Jamar Paul scored off a slant after a Christofori 35-yard pass to RB/WR Robby Aiello put the ball deep into Buccaneers territory. 

Kumin said a great deal of the offense’s success this week lies at the feet of the line, as they “came together tonight as a unit. We talk about about those guys as not being individuals but as all five as one. They worked for us every step of the way.”

And after both sides of the line for Belmont contributed to the third score, momentum appeared ready to move to Belmont’s side of the field.

But the four-year varsity veteran Lee was able to exploit the young left side of Belmont’s defense during his team’s journey down field before scoring with eight minutes remaining in the game. By the time the Marauders got the ball, Bedford’s aggressive defense along with a few blown plays and an ill-advised penalty, stalled Belmont’s chances.

Next up for the Marauders is, once again, an away game, this time to Division 1 Lexington High School on Saturday, Sept. 27 at 1:30 p.m.

“Times are bright in Belmont,” Kumin told his team after the game.

“Don’t you lose faith in this program. Don’t you lose faith in this staff. Let’s go home like men, our heads up.”

Football: Promise Amidst the Pain in 31-0 Opening Loss to Stoneham

Belmont High School Football team’s game and the season didn’t start the way Yann Kumin had hoped.

Belmont’s head coach – his first ever in charge of a program – saw Stoneham High School recover the on-side kick on the opening kickoff under the Friday night lights on Stoneham’s forlorn grass field on Sept. 12.

“Not the way to start,” commented Kumin when the referee pointed towards Belmont’s side of the field.

Despite the hope for a big performance on the first game under a new football mindset, the Marauders stumbled in the season opener, losing 30-0 to the Spartans.

“Disappointing,” said Kumin after speaking to his team, greeting people he knew from when he was Stoneham’s associate head coach last season and receiving congratulations from Belmont Athletic Director Jim Davis.

“I’m proud of my guys. We fought and we were a discipline football team from start to finish. That’s what we wanted to be. We worked hard but we did not get the result we wanted,” he said.

What Belmont could not control was the quickness and football IQ of Stoneham which ran a variety of rushing plays that found gaps in and around Belmont’s front line. Stoneham’s players experience within a system that relies on technique and speed paid off for the Spartans as they made plays that the Marauders could not.

Kumin said the team was not beaten in the physical portion of the game “but [Stoneham] is a team with three years of really quality coaching and teaching them how to tackle. We have had three weeks of coaching so it’s going to take a little bit more time for us.”

“You have a series of bad habits that have been instilled and repeated over and over again,” said Kumin of Belmont’s  past football culture.

“So when our guys find themselves in situations where they’re ‘behind the eight-ball’, it’s easy to revert back to what they’re comfortable doing, So all we, as coaches, have to do, day-in and day-out, is to break those bad habits and get great habits in place,” he said.

Throughout the contest, Kumin and his young assistant coaching staff were either making every play – and mistake – into a teachable moment or encouraging the effort of players. And Kumin saw great promise in several aspects of the Maruaders’ game.

“The positives exist in the fact that we are capable of making mistakes and coming back and try to do good things. We moved the ball really well and by the end of the second quarter, our offense was clicking,” said Kumin.

As he was walking off the field, Kumin told a Stoneham acquaintance that “you’ll have to come next year to [Belmont’s] Harris Field and we’ll be ready for you.”

A New Era Begins Tonight for Belmont High Football

This is it: the start of a new era for Belmont High School Football begins tonight, Friday, Sept. 12 as new varsity head coach Yann Kumin and his young group of assistant coaches will lead a new look Marauder team to Stoneham for the season opener against Stoneham High School beginning at 6:30 p.m.

The game marks a return to Stoneham for Kumin, who matriculated at Harvard and teaches English at Cambridge’s  Matignon High School, where he was the associate head coach last season. 

The team, which finished 0-11 last season, will bring back talented sophomore Cal Christorfori as quarterback and five senior captains including Max Jones, Austin Lutz, Nick Ryan, Omar Escobar and Darren Chan.

All you need to know about this team can be found in a remarkable video made by a pair of Belmont High School students, Lucas Tragos and James Neylon.