By John McGuirk
MARLBOROUGH _ A few pessimists might suspect Nashoba Regional to endure a hangover phase following its Division 4 state championship run of a year ago. However, early indications suggest otherwise. Thus far, everything appears to be in working order once again.
Just two games in, the Chieftains look eerily similar and dominant as last year.
After shredding Grafton in the season opener, Nashoba kept its momentum high Friday evening as it rolled past Mid-Wach B Division rival Marlborough 35-14 at Kelleher Field.
"We, as a team, really haven't talked about last year much," said Chieftains coach Jamie Tucker. "Last year was last year. It was fun but it is done. Now we have to turn your attention to this year and go from there."
The Chieftains' three-headed backfield provided much of the damage as they ran around and over the Panthers defense with reckless abandon. Senior running backs Jack Cahill, Aidan Lee and junior fullback Trevor Schartner gave Nashoba's offense credible balance in terms of scoring and ball control.
"We know with our backfield that we are going to make people miss," Cahill said. "But we try to compliment our offensive line as best we can because they compliment us. All of us in the backfield have each other's backs too. We all make key blocks for one another.''
The Chieftains (2-0) staked themselves out to a commanding 28-0 first half lead and shifted into cruise control over the final 24 minutes.
"We made some really big plays and moved the ball well in the first half," said Tucker. "It's a great start for us in the fact that we have won two divisional games."
Cahill speared the way, rushing for 89 yards on 11 carries. Lee finished with 65 yards on nine attempts, including a touchdown. Schartner carried the ball eight times for 48 yards and a score. Nashoba finished with 317 offensive yards, while the defense held the Panthers (0-2) to 87, including nine in the opening half.
In two games, the Chieftains are averaging 34 points-per-game, while the defense is holding opponents to a 15 points allowed average.
Taking a 7-0 first quarter lead on a Josh DiGeronimo 1-yard carry, Nashoba put this contest out of reach in the second by finding the end zone three times. Schartner's 5 yard jaunt put the Chieftains on top by two scores. On the ensuing Marlborough possession, quarterback Jason Short, facing an all out pursuit by the Chieftains' defensive front, fumbled on his own 20. With the ball rolling backwards, senior defensive end Nick Romasco pounced on it in the end zone, increasing Nashoba's advantage to 21 with 6:39 remaining in the quarter.
"That fumble recovery in the end zone really got us going," Tucker said. "We were able to move the ball on them and turnovers are always big."
After forcing a three-and-out on the Panthers' next possession, the Chieftains, with just over two minutes showing, methodically marched 96 yards capped off by a James Borsari 29-yard pass to Jack Bonazzoli in the corner of the end zone to make it 28-0.
Marlborough tried to make a game of it to start the second half. After sustaining a 43-yard drive, Short finished it off with a seven yard dash. But Nashoba would add to its lead midway through the fourth following Lee's 13-yard scamper. A brief time later, following an Edwin Cardona 68-yard kickoff return, Short rumbled 15 yards to cap the scoring.
Jayjay Jarmman, a junior, led the Panthers with 58 yards on 11 attempts. Short, also a junior, rushed five times for 26 yards. He was 4-of-16 passing for 26 yards.
"Our coaching staff always has the perfect game plan for us going into every game both offensively and defensively," said Cahill. "I think defensively, we are capable of beating any team we face. Offensively, our line just has to continue to block, and all of our backs just need to continue to make plays."