MARBLEHEAD — A year ago, Chris Gally did exactly what was expected of him during the Marblehead football team’s preseason. Gally worked hard from start to finish, placed himself in a position to succeed and was slated to earn the starting quarterback role for the Magicians. Then, in Marblehead’s last scrimmage of the preseason, Gally suffered a hamstring injury and was forced to miss the first five games of the 2017 season.
“It was really tough. The first play of the last scrimmage I tore my hamstring,” Gally, a senior and three-sport athlete at Marblehead, said. “I never gained my way back into that role of the starting quarterback. It has given me a new perspective into the sport. I’ve prepared myself more physically to take those extra hits. It was really tough but I think it’s made me a better player overall.”
Now Gally’s back under center and ready to lead the 2018 Magicians to another winning season. The expectations are high for the Magicians after a trip to the Division 2A Super Bowl in 2016, when Gally’s older brother, Drew, quarterbacked the team, and an appearance in the Division 4 North final last fall.
Gally said this year’s team has to turn the page on the recent success and find its own identity.
“We need to realize that we aren’t those teams from the last two years,” Gally said. “We’re not the team that went to the Super Bowl two years ago or went 10-1 last year. We’re a completely different team and that’s fine. We’re going to embrace that and find our own identity, and I think that’ll bring us success.”
A two-way player, Gally will play safety and quarterback this season. He took a handful of snaps under center last year when he returned from injury but saw the bulk of his action at safety. With Marblehead having graduated a solid senior class on both sides of the ball, Gally will be leaned on to help lead the offense and defense.
Thus, Gally was named a team co-captain.
“You want your quarterback to be your captain on offense, you want him to be the guy leading the way,” Magicians head coach Jim Rudloff said. “You want the safety being the quarterback on defense so it’s great to have Chris in both of those positions. We lost nine starters on offense and seven starters on defense. Chris has to be in that role where he knows where everyone’s supposed to be and what everyone’s job is.
“We expect Chris to add a veteran presence,” Rudloff added. “He was able to start some varsity games last year. (We expect him) to be able to have to keep a level-head when things go poorly. If things start going south, we need Chris to be able to lift the kids up a bit and maintain sanity in the storm of confusion because we’re so young right now.”
Rudloff also praised Gally for his ability to lead by example in the classroom. The Marblehead senior carries a GPA north of 4.0 with advanced placement and honors classes on his schedule. Succeeding in the classroom, along with playing three sports, is no easy task.
“Chris isn’t a loud kid at all,” Rudloff said. “He leads, first of all, in the classroom. He has an above 4.0 GPA with all AP and honors classes. He’s one of the top students in his grade. He leads by example in the classroom and on the field. He’s extremely smart, you don’t have to tell him something twice. He’s a quiet leader and he leads by example.”
Although serving as co-captain on a young team carries its share of challenges, Gally has embraced the leadership role. Gally said he understands the responsibilities and aims to continue a tradition of Marblehead captains who’ve set positive examples in the past.
“It’s a huge honor,” Gally said. “In the past few years we’ve had great captains, Aidan Gillis to mention one. It comes with great responsibility, getting the team organized and boosting morale, not that we ever need to boost morale because the guys are always up. I’m definitely looking forward to carrying that honor of being a team captain.”
Rudloff hopes Gally can also continue the tradition of standout quarterbacks helped set by his older brother. Drew, a 2016 Marblehead graduate, is now a quarterback at Division III Tufts.
“Chris is just like his older brother,” Rudloff said. “Drew’s a quarterback now at Tufts and he was our quarterback when we went to the Super Bowl in 2016. He blossomed into a great player. We’re hoping for the same from Chris. We need Chris to be balanced. We think he has a good set of skills. He can make good decisions, he can throw when he needs to throw and run when he needs to run.”
With the start of the 2018 season quickly approaching, Gally said he and his teammates are eager to get the year started. Marblehead opens the season September 7 when it hosts Triton.
“We’re really excited,” Gally said. “We’re just looking at Triton. We’re very excited for September 7 to start the season at home in front of our home crowd. We haven’t started at home in a while so we’re definitely looking forward to it and very excited.”