HARWICH – For as long as the sport has been played, football coaches have rattled off clichés about the importance of executing in all three phases of the game: offense, defense and special teams.
On Saturday, the Cape Cod Tech football team learned just how critical it is for an offense to play well. Although the Crusaders’ defense was stellar throughout the team’s home opener, turnovers plagued the offense in a 7-0 loss to Mayflower Athletic Conference rival Upper Cape Tech in Harwich.
“Defensively, we played lights out,” said Cape Tech coach Chris Leonard. “But then there were probably 60 offensive plays and we either fumbled or fumbled the snap on 13 of them.”
The closest Cape Tech (0-2) came to finding the end zone came in the fourth quarter after senior Brian Meritus recovered an Upper Cape (3-0) fumble at the Crusaders’ 38-yard line.
Cape Tech advanced the ball over midfield and into Rams’ territory, though the drive ultimately stalled at Upper Cape’s 18-yard line after a pitch to senior running back Claodio Senat was fumbled and recovered by the visitors.
The Crusaders had one final possession later in the quarter; however, it only lasted two plays before another pitch — this time to Meritus — was fumbled and recovered by the Rams.
“It was very frustrating that we kept making mistakes and fumbling the ball,” said Senat, a Yarmouth resident. “But we’re going to come back next week and fix it before our game against South Shore.”
Meritus anchored Cape Tech’s offensive production with 51 rushing yards on 10 carries, while Senat helped lead the defense with a pair of interceptions.
Senat’s second pick came at a crucial time late in the second quarter when Upper Cape was on the verge of scoring. Facing first and 10 at the Cape Tech 23-yard line, Rams senior quarterback Thomas Zine took a shot at the Crusaders’ end zone with a pass down the middle of the field.
Senat read the play perfectly and snuck in front of the Rams receiver and hauled in the pass to give the ball back to the Crusaders at their own two yard line.
“That one was unbelievable,” Leonard said of the interception.
“It felt amazing that I could help my team get the ball back,” added Senat.
Although the senior safety’s second interception kept Upper Cape out of the end zone, the Rams did score on their next possession when Zine threw an 18-yard touchdown pass to senior Jon Brightman with 1:47 remaining in the second quarter.
It was a frustrating play for the Crusaders because they were able to pressure Zine and were close to tackling him for a loss multiple times before he created enough space to throw the ball downfield.
“I lean on him a lot,” Upper Cape coach Dayne Johnson said of Zine. “He’s been a part of, I think, six touchdowns this year, either throwing or running.”
Sophomore Markeno Glenn kicked the extra point to give the visitors a 7-0 advantage.
“We played well defensively,” Leonard said. “Even on that play they scored on, he was scrambling all over. Good on (Zine) to buy himself time and deliver the ball to (Brightman). In my opinion, they are their best two players and today they made a great play for their team.”
While the outcome wasn’t what Cape Tech had hoped for, both Leonard and his players felt the team took a step in the right direction following a 26-0 Week 1 loss to Blue Hills. Still, they know they can improve — and will look to do just that — before facing South Shore Tech in a road test at 7 p.m. Friday.
“I felt we did pretty good today, but we can always do better,” Senat said. “We can always improve.”
Email Brad Joyal at email@example.com