MHS Golden Tornadoes Football
Marblehead stays on roll, tops Malden, 35-0
By Jason Mazzilli
MARBLEHEAD — The parts of the puzzle seemed to fit for a while, but a relentless Marblehead Magicians team was able to hold off a strong early challenge from visiting Malden and hand the Tornados a 35-0 loss on Friday.
Malden was facing its toughest opponent to date in Marblehead, and the visitors were able to put together perhaps their best performance of the season, though it was not enough. Marblehead stayed unbeaten at 5-0 with the win, staying atop of the Northeastern Conference (NEC), tied with Danvers for the North Division lead. Malden slipped to 0-5 (0-4 NEC) with the loss.
Despite the final result, Malden coach Steve Freker said there are positives to be drawn from the game. “It was the best team [Marblehead] … we have our best football this season. We tell our players we must compete for four quarters, and we really did do that in this game.”
On Malden’s first possession, the Tornados moved the chains for two first downs, buoyed by some strong running by sophomore quarterback Justin Nortelus and junior Jerry Mervil. The drive stalled at midfield, and Marblehead got the ball back after a punt to the Magicians’ 25-yard line.
Some short runs by workhorse Tim Cronin out of the Marblehead backfield fueled a six-play scoring drive capped by a 14-yard touchdown pass to Mason Poisson and a 6-0 lead.
Marblehead head coach Jim Rudloff had praise for Malden’s play out of the gate. “They [Malden] came here to put up a fight,” Rudloff said. “My hat goes off to [Malden] because they played really hard. I’m happy we got a ‘W’ out of it.”
Down 7-0, Malden roared right back when Mervil ripped off a 59-yard run around right end for a first down at Marblehead’s 15-yard line late in the first quarter. That drive ended when Marblehead defensive end Declan Rudloff intercepted a Malden pass on third down and returned it to midfield. “That really hurt. We had a chance to tie the game or take the lead, and we gave up the ball,” Coach Freker said.
Marblehead answered with another touchdown for a quick 14-0 lead. Malden’s Mervil picked off a Marblehead pass at the Tornado 10-yard line on the Magicians’ next series, the team’s first “pick” of the season. Later in the second quarter, Malden sophomore Jude Alphonse recovered a Marblehead fumble, the first time Malden’s defense caused two turnovers in a game this year.
“We are making progress and we are improving, but we are playing a lot of younger and inexperienced players, and it shows against the top teams we have been playing,” Coach Freker said.
Marblehead’s Coach Rudloff added, “They’re [Malden] having a tough season, but they’re good kids, a really disciplined team.”
The biggest negative of the night came just before halftime when Malden senior two-way starter and co-captain Matt Figueiredo sustained a season-ending leg injury while playing linebacker. “Matt’s [Figueiredo] a big, big part of our team and a leader for us,” Coach Freker said. “We can’t really replace a guy like Matt, and it’s a major loss. We are inexperienced to begin with, and he is a two-year starter.”
Malden stays on the road tonight with a road trip to Peabody High for a 7:00 p.m. game against the Tanners.