By Bob Albright CORRESPONDENT
Newburyport Daily News
---- — BYFIELD — The good news for the Triton football team Saturday afternoon was that Swampscott’s Brian Santry and several of his fellow senior Big Blue cohorts nearly missed the opening kickoff thanks to some late-running SAT’s.
The bad news?
The Swampscott signal caller put away his No. 2 pencils just in time to find his way to Byfield for the opening whistle where he led the visitors to an impressive 33-20 victory over the Vikings.
Running Swampscott’s patented wide-open aerial attack to near perfection, Santry connected on 19-of-30 passes for 324 yards and two scores, and also rushed for a pair of scores for Swampscott, which improved to 2-3, while the hosts dropped to 1-4.
“It was scary with a bunch of our guys — including three of our captains — not showing up until 2:30,” said a relieved Swampscott coach Steve Dembowski. “There were two hungry football teams out here. With us both coming in at 1-3, we were almost mirror images of each other and both teams were fighting and scrapping to get a win.”
With Triton trailing 21-7 early in the third quarter, the game nearly changed after one of Santry’s few miscues of the day. A wicked Triton pass-rush forced a wobbly throw from Santry to the flat, where Triton sophomore corner Luke Boyle alertly jumped the route and raced 35 yards for the score. Max Luttenbacher’s ensuing PAT got Triton back to within one score at 21-14 and the momentum was clearly on the Triton sidelines.
Triton running back Justin Spillane (74 yards, TD) and his beefy front line would feed off that surge on the following possession as they drove the ball methodically down to the Swampscott 40, but a bad long snap was scooped up by Swampscott’s Aidan Brawley and the Big Blue never looked back from there.
Santry would hook up with his favorite receiver, captain Josh Rothwell (6 receptions, 121 yards, TD) for a big 37-yard hookup on the very next play and, two plays later, Santry scampered 16 yards up the middle on an inside counter to effectively ice it.
Trying to match up with Swampscott’s bevy of fleet-footed receivers was a tall task for the Vikes all day long, one that Triton coach Pat Sheehan knew would be hard to replicate in practice.
“It’s tough because our mantra is to stop the run,” Sheehan noted. “You’ve got to change what you normally do because our defensive line are all run-stoppers, not pass-rushers, and our linebackers are run-stoppers and not cover guys. They sling it around and their pass protection was sensational today.”
Swampscott would add its final score late in the fourth when Santry found a wide-open Rothwell on a seam route to make it 33-14 with 7:14 left to play.
“When we actually get our offense working correctly, it works nice,” said Santry, who connected with five different receivers. “It’s getting better and better each game and that comes with getting more experience under our belt.”
Triton would turn things over to backup QB Justin Cashman in the final quarter and the sophomore did not disappoint. Cashman connected with senior Dan Colpitts on a 45-yard strike to set up the final score of the game. One play later, Cashman cashed in as he faked out a pair of would-be tacklers with a terrific juke and sprinted in from six yards out.
“Justin has a golden arm and can throw the ball really well,” said Sheehan. “We have seen a lot of good things from him in practice. He’s only a sophomore and once he starts realizing all the little things in the game, he is going to be a good quarterback for us in the future.”
Swampscott would get on the board first thanks to a 45-yard hookup from Santry to fellow captain Robert Serino, who made a terrific juggling catch on the Triton sidelines.
The Vikes would answer on the following drive, however, behind a terrific individual effort from Spillane, who not only lost his shoe, but a pair of Swampscott tacklers as well on his touchdown run from six yards out.
Two second-quarter scores by the visitors, however, made it a 21-7 Swampscott lead heading into the half.
“We didn’t play to our ability in the first half and you can’t afford to do that against an explosive offense like that,” said Sheehan.
After being plagued by slow starts, Dembowski was relieved to see his team get out of the gate early, even after the late arrival.
“I thought we came out and moved the ball well both in the air and on the ground,” said Dembowski, who saw his team roll up a very healthy 447 yards of total offense. “Defensively, we were able to get stops early that allowed us to get three scores in the first half which has been an issue for us.”
Triton will look to get things turned around next Saturday when they host Danvers, while Swampscott will look to get back to .500 against Malden.