(written, shot, edited and narrated for Somerville Patch)
Somerville quarterback Phoenix Huertas through a second-quarter game-tying touchdown Friday night at Russell Field in Cambridge, but the Cambridge Rindge & Latin Falcons out-gained the Highlanders by over 300 yards, beating the Highlanders, 28-6.
Somerville hung with Cambridge through the first half of Friday’s game. Cambridge struck first when, on fourth-and-goal from the 5, junior Magic Price ran around his offensive line’s right edge, then cut quickly up-field to get into the end zone.
During that 14-play, 73-yard drive, Cambridge running back Shaq Anderson rushed for 35 yards.
Following three-and-outs from both teams, Somerville responded with a strong drive of their own, highlighted by a 20-yard strike from Huertas to senior Devon Hairston at the Falcons’ 18.
Later, on fourth-and-5 from the Falcons’ 13, Huertas took the snap and rolled to his right to buy time. Huertas then floated a pass to senior Carlven Gervais in the end zone to tie the game, 6-6.
Huertas finished the game with 36 passing yards and 26 rushing yards – exactly half the 124 total yards his team managed.
Missing senior defensive back Zach Scuito, Huertas also played multiple snaps at cornerback. One of the only Highlanders able to contain Falcon receivers Kevin Lovaincy and Elijah Scott, Huertas twice intercepted Falcon quarterback David Maaghul. His first pick halted a Falcons drive at the Highlander 7 right before halftime.
“Phoenix is a hell of a football player,” Highlander coach Harry Marchetti said. “He plays with heart.”
Huertas’ efforts weren’t enough to hold back the Falcons forever, however, and the Falcons scored three times in the second half. First, Lovaincy slipped behind the Highlander secondary, and Maaghul floated the ball to him near the Highlander 35. Lovaincy then outran every pursuing defender, bursting into the end zone to complete the sixty-yard touchdown pass.
Later in the third, Price rushed for 23 more yards on one drive, the last three putting Price in the end zone for the second time. A two-point run from sophomore Joseph Kozlowski made it 22-6 Falcons.
Somerville tried one last time to put points on the board – something which has been a problem for the team all season – but Cambridge sophomore corner Cameron McMillian made a diving interception at his 20-yard line.
Two plays later, Anderson broke off a 75-yard rushing touchdown in which a combination of raw speed and quick cutting-moves helped him elude all 11 defenders.
“All our runners run tough,” Cambridge coach John Shea said. “Even the ones that their strength might be speed, when they have to they can get some tough yards.”
A long, disappointing, at times frustrating season has come to a close for the Highlanders. Without much of a running game, the Highlanders’ offense too often played one-dimensionally, relying exclusively on the pass.
Having an efficient passing game at the high school level can be very challenging. As the Highlander passing attack has slowly developed, the result has been a lot of low-scoring games, including four shutouts.
Somerville finished their season 1-9. Depending on the outcome of 1-8 Medford’s Thanksgiving Day game against Malden – Somerville could finish the season last in the Greater Boston League.
For fifteen seniors including Hairston and Gervais, Friday night was their final game. A visibly and admittedly frustrated Marchetti said this senior class has been a mixed bag.
“There were some seniors that played with great determination and really got what it was all about,” Marchetti said. “And some others, they didn’t learn what football is all about.”
Marchetti showed far more enthusiasm when asked about his underclassmen.
“The young kids, they learned to play football,” Marchetti said. “You can’t teach the experience of being on the field. The young kids play really hard, they play with grit, they play with determination.”