Friday, October 13, 2017

Groton School Bounces Back With Domination of Middlesex

By John McGuirk (@patsfan1313)

- While it may be a bit too early to prognosticate, Groton School certainly provided a glimpse of what it is capable of accomplishing moving forward.

Dressing only nine seniors, the visiting Zebras, coming off a pair of one-sided defeats, played like a team with its back against the wall on Friday. Facing ISL counterpart Middlesex School, Groton flexed its collective muscle in every aspect imaginable and cruised to an easy 28-0 victory.

After starting the season with a triumph over St. George's School, the Zebras were pushed around by Brooks School and Noble & Greenough School the last two weeks. But it was apparent from the get-go that Groton remained steadfast in its exertion to seek a new course of direction.

"We are the smallest school in the league, but all of these kids are great," said second-year Zebras head coach Jamie Lamoreaux, who formerly served as head coached at Ayer-Shirley High School. "We are a young team that is trying to build a program."

Groton (2-2) man-handled Middlesex from the opening whistle and never lost its grip. That was most-evident on the defensive side where the Zebras held Middlesex to an ineffectual 50 yards of total offense. Middlesex quarterback, and Upton native, Derek Demarzo had a game he would much-rather forget, completing just 4 of 16 passes for 13 yards and 3 interceptions. The running game was no better, combining for 38 yards.

"I thought our defense played really great today," Lamoreaux said. "Offensively, I thought we ran the ball pretty well. Our skill kids are very good. (Offensive coordinator) John Margarita did a great job calling the offense. We were over-matched in our last two games and we weren't really sure how the kids would be able to bounce back from that. But today, we came here and played shutout football. When you can't score you can't win."

The Zebras rushing attack, on the other hand, was in true form. Wellesley product Caleb Coleman led the way with 68 yards, finding the end zone three times. Other back Bennett Smith finished with 48 yards. Groton was able to do most of its damage by rushing around the edges as Middlesex (2-2) found no answers in how to contain it. Overall, the Zebras finished with 197 yards.

"This win was huge for us because we just came off playing the two best teams on our schedule," said Coleman. "I think this win will spark our momentum for the rest of the season."

The Zebras grabbed a 7-0 lead on their first play to open the second quarter. Following a Noah Aaron pick and ensuing 17 yard return, Groton had the ball on the Middlesex 1 yard line. A give to Coleman up the gut would be the beginning of a very long late afternoon for the Middlesex defense.

A few minutes later, the Zebras would strike again. Following a poor punt by Cormac Duhamel, Groton got the ball on its own 48. A 20 yard Greg Segal pass completion to Vladimir Malashenko was immediately followed by a Coleman 20 yard scamper around left end, putting the Zebras on top by 14 points.

"I think it was really powerful for us to get our running game going today," Coleman said. "Early in the season we have been throwing the ball a lot. So to get that confidence going with our running game will be really helpful. We try to use a lot of counters which allows us to get to the outside quickly."

With time wielding down in the first, Groton would regain possession on its own 44. Primarily sticking to its running game, the Zebras drove 67 yards before Segal (6 of 8 for 64 yards) connected with Malashenko on a 3 yard scoring pass to make it 21-0.

Little had changed to begin the closing half. A 7 yard punt by Duhamel gave Groton excellent field position on the Middlesex 38. A key 29 yard scamper by Segal on third-and-19 paved the way for Coleman's 2 yard carry into the end zone, with 6:53 remaining in the third, thus extending the Zebras' advantage to 28 points.

For the remainder of this contest, Groton continued its dominant presence on defense. A blocked punt by Kevin Carney was soon followed up by a pair of interceptions from Robert Long and Chris Sznip, respectively, that only added to Middlesex's misery.

"We need to realize that we can beat everyone left on our schedule and keep that mentality going," said Coleman, who also plays linebacker. "I don't think we have played our best football yet so the ceiling remains high. Our defense has been the strongest part of our team thus far. I feel like we can rely on the defense when our offense isn't really kicking. When we are flying around and making plays, we are rolling as we showed today."

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