Big Blue seniors are ready for another battle in Div. 5 state semifinal

The seniors of the 2019 Swampscott High School Footballl Team. Front row, from left, Zack Palmer, Caden Dubiel, Nick Reiser, Anthony Gee, and Tigram Maduntsev. Back row, from left, Taso Skalkos, Graham Inzana, Tyler Marshall, Arturo Vasquez, Anton Vasquez, and Dylan January. (Spenser R. Hasak)

SWAMPSCOTT — There are 11 seniors on this year’s Swampscott football team, and they’ve been through a lot together. 

As the group — Zack Palmer, Caden Dubiel, Nick Reiser, Anthony Gee, Tigram Maduntsev, Taso Skalkos, Graham Inzana, Tyler Marshall, Arturo Vasquez, Anton Vasquez and Dylan January — prepares for Friday night’s Division 5 North state semifinal game, the memories of all the work it took to get to this point have started to come roaring back.

“It’s been a really long journey for us,” said Dubiel. “A lot of us started working out with the team when we were in eighth grade, so we’ve come a long way.”

“It’s been a really great ride with the boys over the years,” said Anton Vasquez. “We’ve learned a lot together.”

“It’s been quick, but I’m glad we get another shot at this together,” said January.

The Big Blue have chipped away at success with this group for several years now. After a 3-4 season and an early playoff exit in 2016, Swampscott went 6-1 in back-to-back years in 2017 and 2018. The 2017 season ended with another first-round exit, but in 2018 the Big Blue battled their way through the Division 5 North bracket to win the sectional title. Unfortunately for Swampscott, last year’s state semifinal ended with a disappointing loss as well.

“We’ve been through some ups and downs as a team over the years, but we’re still here,” said Arturo Vasquez. “Each loss has just given us more motivation to come back and go further.”

“I’m actually new to the team this year, but knowing these guys and knowing what they’ve gone through the past few years makes me want to work even harder to help us succeed,” said Gee.

But the Big Blue got another chance in 2019, and so far they’ve made the most of it. After a 5-2 regular season, Swampscott notched playoff wins over No. 5 Weston (55-6), No. 1 Pentucket (14-13) and No. 7 Amesbury (39-8) to win the Division 5 North title. While the offensive and defensive performances have been the primary driver of success for the Big Blue, discipline and hard work have also gone a long way.

“Coaching has been huge for us this year,” said Reiser. “When we go out and execute what the coaches put together for us, we have a lot of success.”

“We have to remain disciplined,” said Maduntsev. “We never get too high or too low out there, and that’s what’s helped us play well.”

“We’ve all had a great work ethic this year as a team,” said Marshall. “It’s kept us close and allowed us to really reach our potential.”

And now it all comes down to the Division 5 state semifinal against South champion Holliston (9-1). All the preparation has been done, and one more win will send the Big Blue to Gillette Stadium for a chance to play for the Division 5 state title.  

“It’s very humbling to be back in this position with these guys,” said Palmer. “We’re just going to have to finish things off the right way this year.”

“We’re just going to have to go out there and play like savages if we want to get the win,” said Inzana.

The Division 5 state semifinal between Swampscott and Holliston will kick off Friday night (6:30) at Concord-Carlisle High School.

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