MARBLEHEAD — Before the season started, Marblehead football coach Jim Rudloff couldn’t pinpoint a top option at the running back position. Rudloff had a handful of names to consider but was looking for one of them to stand out above the others. Junior Tim Cronin has emerged as Marblehead’s top running back.
“Tim’s the type of person that gets along with everybody,” Rudloff said. “I think everyone on the team considers him to be a friend. He’s a respectful, polite kid. He’s not loud at all. At the beginning of the season we tried to move him to a different position and he didn’t say anything. Right before the season started we moved him back and he didn’t say anything. He asks a lot of great questions and he’s an easy kid to coach.”
Cronin wasted no time making an impact this season. He ran for 167 yards and scored four rushing touchdowns in Marblehead’s season-opener, a 55-0 shutout win over Triton. Rudloff took note of Cronin’s running abilities last season and, needless to say, was pleased to see Cronin re-affirm those talents in the Week 1 win.
“We saw Tim do some great things last year,” Rudloff said. “He can catch the ball, he’s a good blocker and he runs the ball very well. We had a couple things we could do with him. He’s so valuable at running back and we figured we’d go with him there and try to get him as many touches as we can.
“It didn’t seem like we had to hit a restart button at all,” Rudloff added. “As a play-caller that gives you the confidence to build upon that and try to do some new things as well.”
A two-way player who also plays linebacker, Cronin feels he’s having a solid year through the first five games. Coming into the season, Cronin didn’t have any specific individual goals set for himself other than improving on a week-to-week basis and contributing wherever Marblehead needs him.
“I’m getting better every week,” Cronin, a three-sport athlete who also plays basketball and lacrosse, said. “We have a lot of great running backs. Eric Faia’s also a talented running back, he’s out with an injury and when he comes back we can continue to progress in the backfield. I’m getting better every week and not getting hung up on any games. I’m just looking forward to the next game coming up and that’s Gloucester.”
Cronin credited his offensive line for playing a key role in the success he’s seen this season.
“Our offensive line this year has been really great,” Cronin said. “They’re taking steps forward every week and I’m taking steps forward with them. It makes my job easier to find holes when they’re doing a great job and playing extremely well.”
With a handful of talented running options like Marc Smith, Jan Pena Ortiz and Ryan Argentino, the Magicians are well-aware of the damage Gloucester can create out of its backfield. Marblehead’s defense will have its hands full but Cronin’s confident the Magicians are prepared for the challenge.
“We know they’re a very hard running team with some tough offensive linemen to counter,” Cronin said. “That’s where we stand and that’s what we’ve seen.”
Friday night’s battle between the Fishermen (5-0) and the Magicians (5-0) is a clash between two undefeated teams. Cronin and the Magicians, however, aren’t changing their weekly approach and they aren’t putting much stock in their own undefeated record.
“It’s just another game,” Cronin said. “Every game we have, that’s the mentality. We just have to go in there and get it done. I don’t think our mentality changes.
“We look back and try to get better every week,” Cronin added. “We haven’t come close to where we want to be. With the next game at Gloucester against a really tough team to beat, that’s where our heads are at now.”
Marblehead and Gloucester will clash Friday night (7) at Newell Stadium.
Somerville at Classical (7): The Rams fell into a 14-0 hole against Danvers one quarter into last Friday’s game and couldn’t recover. The positive is they didn’t give up, with back-to-back touchdowns in the fourth quarter after falling behind 29-6. Rams (2-3) quarterback Keith Ridley tossed two touchdown passes and ran for another. Somerville (0-5) lost to Beverly last Friday and continues its hunt for its first win of the season.
English at Salem (7): English hopes to carry momentum from last Saturday’s win over Swampscott into Friday night’s clash at Salem. Last week’s win was one to remember for the Bulldogs as quarterback Matt Severance broke coach Chris Carroll’s all-time passing record, running back Ishmile Bangura ran for 212 yards and four touchdowns and English retained the Blydell Cup. The Witches (3-2) took English to overtime last year before falling just short in a 13-12 loss.
Tech at Georgetown (7): Greater Lowell came to play last Saturday and made a statement in handing the Tigers (3-2) their second loss of the season. Tech trailed 28-0 at halftime and gained just 20 yards of offense in the first half. Tech quarterback David Barrios found Haidar Bdaiwi for an 11-yard touchdown pass in the fourth quarter to avoid the shutout. Georgetown lost to Weston last week and is 2-3 this season.
Malden at Peabody (7): Peabody got itself back on the right track last Friday with a 21-6 win at Masconomet. Defense led the way for the Tanners as linebacker Joshua Tanzer recorded two sacks and forced a fumble. Running back Colby Therrien rushed for two touchdowns and quarterback Matthew Jandrisevits ran for a touchdown. Malden (0-5) hasn’t scored since Week 2’s 41-8 loss to Classical.
Fenwick at Malden Catholic (7): Fenwick (4-1) blanked Archbishop Williams with a 28-0 win last Friday behind two touchdown passes from quarterback Chrys Wilson. Running back David Cifuentes carried the ball 13 times for 47 rushing yards and scored two touchdowns. Malden Catholic had a bye-week last week but is coming off a 28-0 loss to Bishop Feehan. The Lancers’ lone win of the season was a 41-28 victory at English.
Ipswich at Lynnfield (7): The fifth time was the charm for the Pioneers with last week’s 36-6 win over Manchester-Essex in their home-opener at Pioneer Stadium. Lynnfield (1-4) coach Pat Lamusta earned his first win as Pioneers head coach in the process. Running back Jaret Simpson recorded 13 carries for 66 rushing yards and scored twice. Ipswich lost to Amesbury last week and is 4-1.
Winthrop at Saugus (12): The Vikings (2-3) gave Salem a battle last week but fell on the wrong end of a 26-14 final. Winthrop led 8-6 at halftime but the Witches’ offense found its footing in the second half and never looked back. Feedle Small and Andrew Love each scored a touchdown. Saugus (1-4) would like to forget last week’s 61-15 loss at Gloucester sooner rather than later.
BC High at St. John’s (1:30): Last week’s 27-20 Prep win at Catholic Memorial was a solid start to the Eagles’ Catholic Conference schedule. Aise Pream scored three touchdowns and recorded an interception- one of three St. John’s interceptions in the win. Eagles (4-1) coach Brian St. Pierre said he anticipates a battle from BC High (2-3).
Revere at Swampscott (2:30): Revere (3-2) coach Lou Cicatelli called his team the “cardiac kids” after the Patriots won another nail-biter last week, 27-21 in overtime at Medford. Rayan Riazzi tied the game with a 44-yard field goal as time expired and Lucas Barbosa scored the game-winning touchdown in overtime. Swampscott suffered its first loss of the season, 27-14, last week at English.
Williams at St. Mary’s (7): The Spartans (4-1) never struggled in last Saturday’s 28-12 win over Arlington Catholic. Jalen Echevarria rushed for 110 yard and scored two touchdowns. George Freeman ran for 112 yards and scored one touchdown. Williams, 1-4, lost 28-0 at Fenwick last week.