The Marblehead Magicians came to Miller Field last Friday night with an 8-1 record (3-1 in the division) and the knowledge that they would play for the division championship, and the postseason berth that goes with it, on Thanksgiving day at Swampscott no matter how they fared against the Vikings.
That knowledge, instead of making them confident and tough to beat, may have made them complacent, as the Vikings caught the Magicians looking ahead and wound up on the right side of a 27-18 score.
“I think they’re a very good team and I think the game on Thanksgiving Day will be a very good one,” said Winthrop head coach Sean Driscoll. “I also think we got them in a kind of sandwich game, where the game meant more to us than it did to them and we were able to go out there and earn the win.”
The key to this game was the play of the defense, as Winthrop held a good scoring team to just 12 points through more than three quarters of play and the offense flourished behind highly motivated senior running back Frank Ambrosino.
“Defensively again, the unit played well, but I thought that the line especially played very well with Anthony Hatzisavas and Nick Doonan and also Anthony Spinazzola,” said Driscoll. “At time we expect a lot of out of them and they really came through Friday night.”
The defense also got a huge game from freshman linebacker Jimmy Barker, who earned the Black Shirt Award for best defensive player of the game, and is nearing 100 tackles with 92 on the season. The 100 tackle milestone, if he can get it, might be a first for a freshman linebacker at Winthrop according to the coach.
Offensively, the story of the game was Ambrosino, who had 129 yards on 28 carries and three rushing touchdowns. All told the Winthrop offense accumulated just 168 yards off offense, with only 23 of those coming through the passing game.
“Frank just played a great game,” said Driscoll. “He was a real leader out there for us and he gave us the stability in our rushing game that we had been struggling with since Nick McCarthy got injured (two weeks earlier).”
Senior quarterback Will Milano, who was 3 of 6 for 23 yards Friday night, also rushed five time for six yards and the Vikings’ final touchdown. Robert Deeb kicked three of four extra points.
The win gets the Vikings to 4-6 on the season heading into their last game against archrival Revere on Thanksgiving Day at Miller Field.
However, the fact the Vikings will post their first losing season in nine years doesn’t mean the team doesn’t have something to play for.
“We still have not won back-to-back games this season and that is something these kids definitely want to do this year,” said Driscoll. “The win was nice, in an otherwise frustrating year. We’ve had our share of injury problems and inconsistent play, but the effort has been there all year from this team and right now they’re just focused on ending the season on a high note.”