By Jeff Hamrick STAFF WRITER
Newburyport Daily News
---- — HAVERHILL — When injuries decimate a roster as they have at Georgetown, a team is left with two basic choices: fold up the tent or turn the adversity into a learning experience.
Although yesterday’s 43-12 manhandling by Amesbury might not look like it on the surface, the Royals have chosen the latter option.
“We’re playing all youngsters now,” Georgetown coach Paul Sobelowski said. “It’s becoming tough. We’re playing a bunch of freshmen and sophomores right now on a varsity schedule. There’s no way we can be competitive with teams like (Amesbury). When you have nine guys out with injuries and only 45 players in the program, it gets tough.”
Things have gotten so bad for the snake-bitten Royals that sophomore running back Cooper Martens, who was starting because of injuries, was knocked out of the game with a concussion on his second carry of the afternoon.
Amesbury (4-2) took advantage of the youthful Royals early, scoring on each of its first four possessions — none of which lasted more than six plays — to take a 29-0 lead with 7:34 left in the second.
“We knew they had a couple of guys banged up from last week and before, but we don’t know who’s coming back, who’s going to step up or what type of game plan they’re going to bring,” Amesbury coach Thom Connors said. “We saw them on film playing Bishop Fenwick, and they showed that they are a very talented team, and coming into this week, they were putting the most points up in the Cape Ann League. They have the ability, and we weren’t about to underestimate them.”
“Hats off to (Amesbury) for not rubbing it in on us,” Sobelowski said. “It’s not fun for them either when they come in and can score at will.”
Amesbury was led by a bevy of hard-running backs, notably quarterback Matt Talbot, who rushed three times and scored three touchdowns for a total of 56 yards. Talbot, however, wasn’t the only productive back. Perry Mroz notched a team-high 85 yards on five carries and one touchdown, Tommy Connors rolled out for 60 yards on four carries, Ben Cullen added a touchdown on four carries and 33 yards, and Doug Masi made the most of his two running plays with 21 yards.
Overcoming the slow start, Georgetown (1-4) put together their best drive late in the first half, going 77 yards on 11 plays in 5:36. Tom Zargaj, one of only two seniors that contributed to the offense, capped things off with a 17-yard scoring run.
The Royals added another score midway through the fourth on an 18-yard scoring pass from sophomore Zack Curtain to junior Patrick Bjork.
“We have to get some kids back healthy,” Sobelowski said. “You keep these guys motivated by teaching them the game of football and try to help them get better for the future.
“Every kid in our program comes back next year with the exception of five of them. You just have to concentrate on the future, getting better and getting the younger kids to step up.”
On the other side of the ball, Amesbury’s large lead granted Connors the ability to lend his underclassmen some precious varsity playing time.
“We moved the ball pretty well. We had scored 21 points and ran only about 10 or 12 plays, so we were efficient. We were able to pound the ball a little bit and move the chains, and had the opportunity to get a lot our JV and freshmen guys into the game, which is always invaluable,” Connors said. “It’s nice getting to rest your varsity guys a little bit before your first league game.”
Another sign of how tough things have been on Georgetown could be seen on the roster. Starting at fullback was a player with the number 33, which was not listed on the program. It turned out that senior Kenny Haskell had to change his number from 54 when he was forced to move from the offensive line to the starting backfield. He ran for 10 yards on five carries.