FALMOUTH – The chips were stacked against the Nauset football team.
The Warriors entered their season opener against Cape and Islands League Atlantic Division rival Falmouth on the heels of a short week of practice after a return to COVID-19 protocols that forced the team to cancel its scheduled Week 1 game against Barnstable, which was also in protocol.
Although the team ultimately suffered a 20-7 defeat to the host Clippers, the Warriors (0-1) laid a foundation they can build upon the rest of the season. Nauset Bruce Strunk wasn’t making any excuses for his team, which he said he’d like to see play with some more speed and intensity.
“There are no excuses, they were the better team today,” Strunk said. “We played at two different speeds. We looked like it was our first scrimmage and they looked like they’ve been doing this for a couple weeks.”
Strunk said he knew his team may be a little rusty, but he encouraged his players to play fast and keep pushing forward after making mistakes.
“I told the guys that this week we need to play faster, and before the game I told them that we’re going to make a lot of mistakes we’d normally make in a scrimmage, but to just keep playing,” he said.
There were bright spots for Nauset, including its opening drive. After receiving the opening kickoff, the Warriors possessed the ball for nearly nine minutes as they strung together a methodical drive and marched into the Falmouth (1-1) red zone.
The drive stalled after an errant snap, however, and ended altogether when the Warriors turned it over on downs following an incomplete pass by junior quarterback Riley Holmes, who was making his varsity debut under center.
The Clippers struck first on their opening drive, with senior Sam Cavossa plunging into the end zone for a 2-yard touchdown run with 1:37 remaining in the first quarter. Fellow senior Gerald Mahoney booted the extra point to give Falmouth a 7-0 edge.
Following another steady drive, Nauset got into the end zone with 4:03 to play in the first half after Holmes called his number and scored on a 3-yard quarterback keeper. Senior Anthony Lovati’s extra point tied the game at 7.
“He’s going to grow even more over the next couple of years,” Strunk said about Holmes, who finished with 71 rushing yards on 15 carries. “We’re kind of turning him into the quarterback. Like all of our young players, he’s going to make mistakes along the way — but that’s OK because he’s going to be a good player for us.”
Any momentum the visitors garnered after Holmes scored vanished quickly once Falmouth responded to take the lead into halftime. Facing fourth down and long, the Clippers dialed up some trickeration with a halfback pass that saw junior Dresean Cain-Williams field a pitch and throw a 47-yard touchdown to senior Taylor Fry, who was left wide open down the sideline.
Falmouth took a 14-7 lead into the intermission after Mahoney’s second extra point of the game.
“We’ve been practicing it,” Falmouth’s interim head coach Joe Morency said of the trick play. “It’s something we practice on a daily basis and we were going to run it Week 1, but I really wanted to make sure we were up at halftime. I was hoping we were able to score quick, so we dialed one up for (Cain-Williams), who threw a good ball.”
The Clippers added one more score during the third quarter — a 17-yard touchdown run by senior quarterback Doug Rose — on their way to their first victory of the season.
Nauset never waved the white flag, however, as the team’s offense advanced the ball deep inside Falmouth’s red zone again in the fourth quarter before a fumble gave the ball back to the Clippers, who were able to run out the remaining time and preserve the win.
Although Strunk wasn’t pleased with the two turnovers inside the red zone, the coach understands the Warriors are close to where they want to be.
“I think we had the ball for three quarters of the first half,” he said. “And then at the end, we could’ve scored again. So, we’re right there. Falmouth is a good team and they’re well coached — we just need to match their excitement when we play them again.”
Email Brad Joyal at firstname.lastname@example.org