SWAMPSCOTT — After opening the season with a hard-fought loss to English, the Swampscott football team has turned things around. Riding a three-game win streak, the Big Blue will face one of their toughest tests yet Friday night (7) when they welcome undefeated Danvers to Blocksidge Field.
“Danvers is a solid team,” Swampscott coach Bobby Serino said. “They have good skill. They are big up front with their linemen. They’re a very fast team at the skill positions. They have a lot of strength. The bottom line is they’re 4-0 and they’re 4-0 for a lot of reasons. They’ve grinded out a ton of games and hats off to them.”
But Serino feels his Big Blue will be prepared for the challenge. After grabbing their first win of the season at Salem (35-8), the Big Blue have gone toe-to-toe with Beverly (27-20) and Winthrop (28-6) over the past two weeks.
“The Beverly game was a tough game,” Serino said. “Winthrop was one of the toughest games we’ve had so far. Winthrop’s a very, very tough team. Now we have Danvers at 4-0 and Peabody’s right behind them. It’s nice to see. This is a very, very strong Northeastern Conference. Marblehead’s up there, undefeated. It’s a great conference right now.”
Offensively, things are starting to come together. Graham Inzana’s flourishing under center, as expected, and running back Dylan January’s moving the chains. Receivers Andrew Augustin and Arturo Vasquez are having solid seasons as Inzana’s go-to targets.
Zack Palmer, a receiver, has helped Swampscott put points on the board with a pair of kickoffs and a punt returned for touchdowns.
“We’re looking good,” Serino said. “We’d get the ball a few more times if Zack would stop running the ball back. We opened the Winthrop game with a kick return and same thing with the English game. Our first offensive play against English was like the 30th play of the game. I’m very happy with how our offense is clicking right now. Graham’s a very smart quarterback and we incorporated Cam O’Brien at tight end, something we haven’t done in years.”
Palmer’s success on special teams, Serino said, has been a total team effort.
“Zack’s playing hard,” Serino said. “We try and make him return it the distance at least once a day on special teams. As I say to everyone else, if you see those holes that open up other people can run through those holes too. He has a burst of speed.
“Zack’s having a really good season. But there are 10 other people on the field every time he returns one and usually there are nine people holding their blocks when they return one.”
Defensively, the Big Blue have bought into defensive coordinator Peter Bush’s system. Swampscott has limited opponents to 16 points per game and feels winning the turnover battle will be the key Friday night.
“Our defense is doing very well,” Serino said. “Somebody wraps somebody up and everybody else cleans up. They buy into watch coach Peter Bush coaches and the rest of the coaches. Our defenders hit hard. Graham’s one of our best tacklers and Dylan January’s playing unbelievable on both sides. Anton Vazquez is having a great season on both lines.
“It’s going to be a tight grind. Each game, Coach Bush tells the defense we have to win the turnover battle. If we do that, we’ll be in good shape. The weather isn’t supposed to be so good but we’ve practiced to get used to the weather. We’ll be ready.”