Photo: The 2016 Junior Marauders.
In the three years since he started the football program at the Chenery Middle School, James MacIsaac said this year’s crop of Belmont Junior Marauders were a bit on the small size.
“You never know who will come out for the team and this year many of the boys are still growing,” he said.
Not that there are that many giants among the approximately 43 Chenery 7th and 8th graders who suited up to play tackle football, said MacIsaac, the town’s assistant police chief who played for Belmont High School a few years back.
This season, the Marauders – which was made up of equal numbers of 7th and 8th graders – faced teams made up of mostly 8th graders, so there were some games that Belmont was starting out with a disadvantage.
“It was at times a bit overwhelming for some of the players,” said MacIsaac in late October facing a strong Saugus team at Harris Field.
While winning and losing, and at times just being competitive, is why the game is played, MacIsaac and his coaching staff are more interested in teaching the skills to play football but also to love the game.
“We want them to have fun and learn about football,” said MacIsaac
The team has had its moments, shutting out Bedford and winning the season’s finale, 28-20 against Sharon which defeated the Junior Marauders in September.
The program’s secondary objective is as a conduit for the high school team.
“Hopefully, they will continue [playing] at Belmont High and that’s what we are trying to get is to develop [that] program,” said Assistant Coach Robert Walker.
That particular goal is paying off at Belmont High School as the Marauders prepare for its annual showdown with Watertown on Thanksgiving with leading receiver Jared Edwards starting his football career as a Junior Marauder during its inaugural season.
“We want this to be an enjoyable time for the kids and I think they understand [that] since we have not had a player drop out of the program ever since we started three years ago,” said MacIsaac.