SWAMPSCOTT, Mass. -- Lynn English football head coach Peter Holey put it bluntly that turnovers not only kill football teams.
“They kill football coaches, too,” Holey added.
And so there was no way to look past the Bulldogs’ six turnovers as their undoing in a 33-19 loss at Swampscott on Saturday. Despite drawing even with the Big Blue for a time during the third quarter, Lynn English’s miscues had a multiplying effect, letting Swampscott’s spread offense get into rhythm.
“I thought when we threw the pick and they tied it up, 12-12, our guys really bore down,” Big Blue head coach Steve Dembowski said. “I thought Mike Walsh was stronger in the second half than the first, somewhat [like] last year.”
After throwing a pick-six to Lynn English's Malcolm Brown-Simpson to open the third quarter, Walsh rebounded to lead Swampscott on three scoring drives, with the Brown commits scoring once with his feet and throwing for another two touchdowns.
A sloppily played first half rife with penalties and (you guessed it) turnovers meant both teams weren’t able to establish much by the way of offensive momentum. But Swampscott (4-0) clung to a 12-5 halftime lead after Walsh found his favorite target, wide receiver A.J. Baker on an 11-yard touchdown pass.
In the second half, Big Blue had its opportunistic defense to thank for several scores and good field position. Defensive back Aiden Lang recovered two key fumbles, thwarting promising Bulldogs drives and setting up Swampscott scoring drives.
“We go over all week that we need to get turnovers,” Lang said. “Joe DeSalvo had one and Frank Legere had a pick and a couple of kids had forced fumbles. But it was basically a team effort throughout the week.”
FAMILIAR FACES, FAMILIAR SCHEMES
There is much in common in the offensive schemes run by both Dembowski and Holey. So Saturday’s matchup was a little bit like boxing against your shadow.
“It’s the same way we see it against Lynn English in practice,” Holey said. “They didn’t do anything we didn’t expect them to do.”
Add to the equation that Lynn English senior quarterback Jermaine Kelly started his high school career at Swampscott before moving across the town line, so Big Blue was more than familiar with the quarterback’s tendencies.
“It’s always nice getting to practice against a spread because our scout team knows what they’re doing,” Lang said. “We knew Jermaine’s cadence so we could figure out when to move and stuff, so it helps.”
Lining up against a spread team plays into Big Blue’s strengths with a host of athletic players on the second and third tier of the defense. But, more than that, Swampscott’s defensive line was able to keep Kelly, who can make plays happen with his feet as well and is a hard-to-tackle runner in the open field, in check for the most part.
“They run a lot of the same stuff that we do [offensively], so we were prepared,” said Walsh, who also plays at safety. “[Defensive backs] Coach [Peter] Bush prepared us the whole week for this offense. It really started up front though, Mike Wynne, Patrick Sheehan. Joe DeSalvo and Mark Lausier got penetration the whole day and the linebackers filled the gaps.”
The familiarity paid off.
“We thought we had a great game plan going in against them, for the most part,” Dembowski said. “I thought we did a good job except for when we went into a little bit of a prevent there. Our defense, overall, was awesome today.”
Even after beating up on each other all afternoon, a host of Swampscott players took extended time to talk with and extend best wishes to Kelly following the contest, including a hug from his former head coach.
But, in between the lines, friendship was put aside.
“I’ve talked to Jermaine a lot and he’s still a friend of mine,” Lang said. “But it meant a little bit more [to beat him].”