Nov. 28—Is there any high school football team in the state of Massachusetts hotter than Marblehead right now?
Fresh off a thrilling, last-second road victory at fellow unbeaten and arch rival Swampscott Thanksgiving morning, the Magicians sit at a perfect 11-0 on the season. They're one of just three teams in the entire state to remain without a defeat, joining state powerhouse Catholic Memorial in Division 2 and Wahconah in Division 7. Dating back to the 2019 fall campaign, Marblehead has won 19 consecutive games.
All three of those aforementioned undefeated squads are headed to Gillette this week for their respective Super Bowl bouts. For Marblehead, it's a date with North Attleboro Thursday at 3 p.m.
As the Magicians prepare for that highly anticipated season finale, let's take a look at some of the things that have made this team tick this fall.
Consistent run game
Between senior bruiser George Percy and the versatile and explosive junior Connor Cronin, the Magicians boast a scary backfield for opposing fronts. Percy leads the team with 110 carries for 585 yards and seven touchdowns, two of which came in the epic Thanksgiving Day victory over Swampscott.
Cronin, meanwhile, has done the bulk of his damage catching the football, but has still contributed an effective 569 rushing yards on 82 totes with six scores. Cronin's yards per carry average of 6.9 is among the North Shore leaders while Percy's (5.3) is also excellent, especially considering his heavy workload. Give credit to the offensive line as well, as Christian Pacheco, Sam Annese, Jack Aneshansley, A.J. Andriano and Ned Fitzgerald have helped open up holes for their standout runners.
The Magicians can beat you in a variety of ways offensively, and having a senior leader in quarterback Josh Robertson running the show certainly plays a hand in that.
Following a 189-yard, two-touchdown day against the Big Blue this past Thursday, Robertson has now thrown for 2,287 yards and 28 touchdowns on the year. The team captain has completed 159 of his 224 attempts (nearly 71 percent) and has turned it over just six times in 11 games. Robertson has grown in so many ways since taking over as head coach Jim Rudloff's starting signal caller his sophomore season two years ago: he's a heady player who rarely makes mistakes, and when he does he seems to make up for it on the next drive.
Robertson's favorite target is Cronin (61 catches, 786 yards, 8 TD); the duo has effectively utilized the screen pass and other variations with regularity. But he's spread the ball around well overall, with senior James Doody (29 catches, 616 yards, 7 TDs), fellow wideout and captain Craig Michalowski (27 catches, 413 yards, 3 TDs) and Zander Danforth (11 catches, 122 yards, 2 TDs) all chipping in. Percy has also caught a touchdown pass from Robertson this fall, as has Drew Annese (2), Shane Keough (2) and Eddie Johns (2).
Capable defensive unit
The Magicians have scored a whopping 381 points this season while allowing just 137. Have they had their share of breakdowns and avoidable penalties on defense? Absolutely. But on a whole, Marblehead has imposed its will on that side of the ball more often than not.
Prior to its shootout win over Swampscott (31-28), the Marblehead D had held each of their previous four opponents to seven points or less. Between Fitzgerald, Adriano and Sam Annese in the trenches and linebackers Percy, Drew Annese, Pacheco and Liam McIlroy inside and on the edge, they're certainly a tough group to get around. In pass coverage both James Galante and Andy Palmer have come up with some big plays, while Craig Michalowski and Cronin are the perfect compliments capable of delivering the big hit.
If you somehow missed it, senior Eli Feingold's 37-yard field goal with 2.7 seconds remaining was the difference in Marblehead's wild win over Swampscott on Turkey Day. While that decisive boot was the senior placekicker's first field goal of the year, he's been incredible consistent for the Magicians, having connected on 47 PAT's this fall and has done a great job on kickoffs as well. Having that extra weapon in your arsenal could come in handy if things get tight against North Attleboro.
Contact Nick Giannino at NGiannino@Salemnews.com. Follow him on Twitter @NickGiannino_SN.