FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- For the second year in a row, the Longmeadow Lancers are the MIAA Western Massachusetts Divison I Super Bowl champions, but for the first time they were able to play at Gillette Stadium.
Overcoming multitudes of hurdles, including numerous injuries with those to starting quarterback Jake Lazarus and running back T.J. Norris and an earlier loss to Springfield Central, 21-20, on Oct. 15, the Lancers' victorious finale under the lights in Foxborough was nothing short of a miracle.
"In my 25 years of coaching, I have never seen anything like this," Longmeadow defensive coordinator Nick St. George said whose . "But we pulled it together."
Earlier this season, Rotsko discussed the importance of developing a program in which underclassmen develop throughout their time in the system so that when it is their time to carry the torch they are ready to do so. This season, junior Frankie Elder, who started off as a running back, took over at the quarterback position from Norris, who took it over from Lazarus, and lead the Lancers to a 35-7 win over Central in a rematch of last year's title game.
Although an amazing feat for some, Rotsko did not expect anything less from Elder, as this is not the first time he has broken the normal for Longmeadow.
"He's been a starter since his sophomore year," Rotsko said. "Actually he started on defense as a freshman, and I think we've had two freshmen in my 19 years that are staring and he's one of them. He's been around a little bit and has a lot of confidence. Playing a new position, I don't know if he could've done a better job than he did today."
Although Elder filled the big shoes, leading a team that has won 11 of the last 15 Division 1 Super Bowls, it did not coming without reservations.
"To be completely honest, I didn't really want to play quarterback, I'm a running back at heart," Elder said. Despite what his personal preference was, he was able to lead to his to glory, even with some doubt of his own abilities. "I can't really throw the ball, but we all got it done today and it was fantastic, it was awesome."
In the previous game, the Springfield Central Golden Eagles were able to score 21 points on the Lancers but today they only scored one touchdown in the second quarter, a 31-yard pass from Cody Williams to Joshua Malone. The difference in scoring and inability to run the ball (Certral had 50 yards on the ground) was summed up by junior lineman Louie Calabrese.
"We struck the keys, hit them in the chin and didn't let them drive us back like last time," Calabrese said. "Last time... it's probably that they embarrassed us. They embarrassed us last time, we were mad, real mad, but we got back at them though."
"When you get down, you've got to get back up and keep working harder," said Lazarus, who missed the first five games of the season with a broken right thumb and played today with a cast on his left arm for the same reason. "With an opportunity like this, you can't let injuries overcome you."