Photo: Belmont’s Tyler Arno (7), Kevin Logan (8) and Chris Cogliano (1) swarm tackles Watertown’s Mason Andrade who was the Marauders’ nemeisis all game long as Belmont fell to host Watertown, 25-0, on Thanksgiving.
The cool steely gray skies over Victory Field in Watertown was the apt dower backdrop for the Belmont High Marauder Football team as host Watertown High Raiders took control early and won the 99th edition of the Thanksgiving game in the border rivalry, 25-0, snapping Belmont’s two-game Turkey Day win streak.
For first-year head coach Brian McCray, the season which started out with a promising 4-2 record ended with five losses as the competition improved which his Marauders couldn’t match.
“Over the season, it’s been up and down like a roller coaster,” McCray told the team after the game. “Obviously we didn’t get what we wanted at the end of the year. We battled as hard as we could over the whole season. It just felt like we didn’t have enough to change the game to our advantage.”
Mason Andrade, the Raiders’ senior running back who better resembles a linebacker in stature and physicality, claimed the man of the match with a pair of power touchdowns. Running behind an offensive line that held the height and size advantage over the Marauders – especially after Belmont defensive stalwart Jake Cornelius left with an injury – Andrade was a force running downhill almost entirely down the right side for most of the game, gobbling up yards and moving the sticks.
While the Marauders D did have a number of big-time stops against Andrade including his attempt of a two-point conversion in the second quarter, Belmont had a hard time consistently containing the Raiders’ offense: for every stop by the Marauders, Watertown would have two to three plays of four yards or greater. And when Belmont did halt Watertown in the red zone, the Raiders brought out sophomore kicker Rafael Magalhaes who nailed field goals of 23 and 24 yards.
On the other side of the ball, it was a rough day for Marauder sophomore QB Jayden Arno whose quarterback option runs didn’t fool the Raiders, at times resulting in the young signal-caller being slammed into the turf. Despite some success through the air – a very good pitch and catch with senior wideout Logan – the Marauders’ offense could not generate a sustained drive in any of the four quarters.
When the Marauders did cross midfield in the first quarter with a first down on the Raiders 44-yard line – a result of a 10-yard pass and catch to senior Brian Lasseter – a bad snap equaled a loss of 13 yards which effectively ended the drive.
One of the highlights for Belmont supporters was witnessing the final field performance from the Marauder marching band, a guest of the Watertown athletic department.
Despite the less than the satisfying end of the campaign, McCray does see a lot of upside coming next year, noting the return of his quarterback and promising running back (sophomore Adrien Gurung) most of the offensive and defensive lines and many of the linebackers. He also pointed to many younger players – who played on successful junior varsity and freshmen teams – who were slotted into varsity games due to injuries and gave them valuable game experience.
“I think it’s going to be a very bright future. Come see us next year,” said McCray.