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Defense leads the way for Swampscott Division 5 title

Surrounded by his team, Swampscott captain Tyler Marshall hoists the Agganis Trophy. (Spenser Hasak)

FOXBOROUGH– To say that Swampscott’s defense was stout in Saturday’s 21-0 win over Amherst in the Division 5 Super Bowl at Gillette Stadium would be an understatement. 

The Big Blue were stout, strong, swift and flat out dominant from the opening whistle to the final play. 

They shut down a red-hot Hurricanes offense that outscored its three postseason opponents 133-16 heading into Saturday, limiting previously-undefeated Amherst to just 53 yards of total offense. 

“We knew Amherst had a smart, athletic quarterback,” Swampscott defensive coordinator Peter Bush said. “We knew their skill position kids could run. We just didn’t know how they’d block some of our front guys. We’ve been working on that since August. We won some of the one-on-one battles. Some of their blocks were there, our kids just made plays. Our kids made plays when they were there and they played great.” 

Swampscott’s defensive front muscled its way into the backfield all game long, forcing Amherst quarterback JB Mills to make quick decisions out of the pocket. Mills completed just six of 22 pass attempts for 41 yards. 

The win was Swampscott’s first in a Super Bowl since 2007. 

“The defensive staff, we do a ton of work on the weekends and during the week breaking film down,” Bush said. “Amherst had some good size up front. I thought we could neutralize some of that with our guys. We have (defensive tackles) Anton Vasquez and Tyler Marshall up front and then (defensive ends) Angelo Ciciotti and Thomas Frisoli on the edges. Those guys are tough to block. They allow (linebackers) Dylan January, Nick Reiser, Jake Papazoglou and Cam O’Brien to break free and make plays.” 

The secondary was up to the task too. Arturo Vasquez swatted down a deep pass toward the end zone at the end of the first half, helping Swampscott carry a 14-0 lead at recess after scores from Andrew Augustin (22-yard touchdown pass from Graham Inzana) and Inzana (4-yard quarterback keeper). Amherst’s best drive, a march inside Swampscott’s 40 midway through the third quarter, ended when Zack Palmer intercepted Mills in the end zone. Safeties Augustin and Inzana complete the secondary. 

“Our kids have made plays all year,” Bush said. “I think it’s a tribute to them as far as being athletes and being aggressive. You can’t tell a kid to slow down. Our kids have played aggressively all year. Arturo ended up being one of our better cover corners along with Zack. We have great athletes.” 

January’s 1-yard plunge in the fourth quarter put Swampscott ahead 21-0 and the Big Blue preserved their third shutout of the year. 

“I had a feeling the way we got going early,” Bush said. “The kids gained a lot of confidence. We recovered an onside kick (on the opening kickoff) and went down to score. Our kids play fast. They gained confidence early on. Our kids got stops. Amherst was 1-for-12 on third down and 1-for-5 on fourth down. That’s something we’ve preached all year- start fast and play fast.” 

Swampscott’s defense simply checked off every box. A group of multi-sport athletes who made a habit out of studying film molded itself into a lethal unit under the brightest lights. 

“We have three kids that are going to play college baseball next year with Reiser, January and Marshall,” Bush said. “Our multi-sport athletes are a big piece for us. They’re being coached in similar ways in the winter and spring. That helps not only us but them in their other sports as well. A town like Swampscott, the athletics survive off the multi-sport athletes. 

“We had some question marks coming into the season as far as some of the positions on defense. But the kids work hard in everything they do. In the film room and on the field, they compete. I think that was one of the differences (Saturday).” 

It only helped to have a group of underclassmen on the scout offense eager to push the starting defense each day in practice. 

“The work we do during the practice week pays dividends,” Bush said. “We have a tremendous offensive staff that runs our scout team. They do a great job simulating the other teams’ offense all year. Those younger kids that were on the scout team never complained. They gave our defense a chance to see what Amherst would run.” 

Bush gave credit to his defensive assistants for playing major roles in the unit’s success. And he made sure to point out that it starts with head coach Bobby Serino. 

“(Serino) does a great job not only coaching the kids but coaching his coaches,” Bush said. “That’s something that put us over the edge this year. The coaching in all three phases made a big difference this year. Coach Serino bleeds blue. That means something to him and the entire staff.” 

 

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