A come-from-behind victory for Milton against Marblehead in the state quarterfinals meant the end of the Magicians playoff run, and their hopes to defend the state title. Still, the team put-forth a valiant effort this season.
Marblehead finished with an 8-2 record, and although the goal was to defend the title, it was by no means a failed season. With their annual Thanksgiving matchup against Swampscott coming up, it’s time to take a look back on the Magicians season as a whole.
Junior Quarterback Miles O’Neill had an impressive debut to say the least. The towering quarterback threw four touchdown passes in a 25-6 rout of Concord-Carlisle. He connected with Senior Receivers Connor Cronin and Shane Keough for a couple of scores and explosive plays. The game was highlighted by a play in which O’Neill was almost certainly going to be sacked, but somehow escaped to step up towards the line of scrimmage, launching a ball over40 yards downfield that found Receiver Andy Palmer wide open. That first game showed just how good the offense could be with the talent surrounding O’Neill.
Just a week later, Marblehead pulled out a close victory over Lynnfield, 26-18, but on that night, it was more than a win. Jake Scogland took the field just hours after learning of his father Jeff’s passing. There was no doubt that the team rallied around him that evening, and his bravery and determination to play lifted the team. Not only did Scogland play that night, he was a key factor on both sides of the ball, and blocked an extra point attempt that helped seal a victory for his team. After the game, both sides huddled together at midfield and broke down the huddle with “family”, which was another example that it’s bigger than football.
In week four, the Magicians were finally thwarted by the Peabody Tanners by a score of 40-7, which ended their incredible win streak at 23. Marblehead hadn’t lost in just about three years, but Peabody came in and won by 33 on the Magicians home field. It was a game that stunned everybody in attendance due to the fact that most had not seen Marblehead lose since before 2020. Early on after trailing 7-0, O’Neill led the team downfield on a drive that was capped off by an Eddie Johns touchdown to tie the game. That would be all the scoring Marblehead did however as the Tanners scored 33 straight to end the magical run by the red and black.
Marblehead immediately got back on track the following week, cruising to a 28-7 win over Masconomet. The game was tight for three quarters, with Marblehead entering the final 12 minutes with a 14-7 lead. The Magicians were able to pull away in the fourth with two touchdown passes, and things began looking up again for Marblehead after the win.
Marblehead got an opportunity to rest up after clobbering the Panthers 41-0 with a bye week. Feeling refreshed and restored, the Magicians claimed victory once again, beating the Danvers Falcons 27-7. Unlike the Beverly game, it was a slower start for Marblehead, but after a few drives, the players really got it going. A 34 yard pass from O’Neill to Commoss got the scoring started in the second quarter, and Marblehead didn’t look back. The win clinched an NEC title for the Magicians, and all but sealed their seeding in the MIAA Division 3 playoffs.
In the first round, 9th seeded Whitman-Hanson seemed to be an unworthy opponent of the 8th seeded Magicians as they shut out the Panthers to win by a dominant score of 35-0. At this point, the win streak had been reborn after the Peabody game, and this win extended the current streak to four.
It seemed like it was bound to be five a week later as Marblehead had a stranglehold on the No.1 seeded Milton Wildcats in the state quarterfinals. Marblehead stunned Milton by going up 20-7 in the first half. The scoring for the Magicians was highlighted by a 52 yard bomb to Zander Dandorth. In heartbreaking fashion, Milton roared back to score 17 unanswered. They took a 24-20 lead with eight minutes to go, and that would be the difference.
The team was minutes away from advancing to the semifinals, but it was still an incredible year for the Magicians. After losing a few key pieces from last year’s team, Marblehead was still able to dominate on the gridiron for the better part of the season, and went toe to toe with the number one ranked team in the division. With Miles O’Neill now having a season of experience under his belt, and a few young players that are ready to make their mark, the Magicians will be back for another run next year.