Cape Tech Football Heads Into An Abbreviated Offseason With A Victory

By: Brad Joyal

Topics: School Sports , Cape Cod Tech , Football

Cape Cod Tech senior Leon Lopes (11) celebrates with senior safety Claodio Senat (5) after Senat intercepted a pass to thwart an Upper Cape drive at the Crusaders’ two yard line during Saturday's game in Harwich. BRAD JOYAL PHOTO

There’s something to be said about heading into the offseason with a victory. That feeling of ending a season on a positive note can carry over into offseason workouts and help set the tone when a new year begins.

For the Cape Cod Tech football team, which dropped its first three contests of the Fall II season, Saturday’s meeting at Bishop Connolly was crucial for that reason. The Crusaders made the most of their final opportunity to play, as they pulled out a 22-13 victory to end their season with a 1-3 mark.

“You don’t want to get blanked on a season and that’s the way we were heading,” Cape Tech coach Chris Leonard said. “It was one of the wackiest seasons I’ve ever been a part of during all my years of coaching. I was just glad to get out there for the seniors and to get them a win.”

Senior quarterback Leon Lopes led the way, scoring a touchdown on a QB sneak and connecting with classmates Brian Meritus and Luke Pineo on touchdowns through the air.

“He played great,” Leonard said of the signal-caller. “Maddox Walker, our fullback, had a lot of great carries, but it was probably the best rushing game by Leon Lopes — he had 75 rushing yards.”

Lopes also ran for a two-point conversion and threw another to Pineo. Leonard said Pineo’s TD grab was a 35-yard strike that saw the receiver leap over a Bishop Connolly defender to haul in the pass.

“It was a great jump ball where him and the defensive back went up to get it,” Leonard said. “Luke was able to pull it down. He had great control on the play.”

As much as the seniors helped the Crusaders on the scoreboard, there were some underclassmen who stepped up to aid the team at the line of scrimmage. Leonard credited sophomores Alex Riker and Joseph Elkins for their work on the line.

“Through some injuries and other situations, Alex Riker and Joseph Elkins both stepped up huge for us this last week,” the coach said. “Joseph played guard and Alex played defensive tackle, and both stepped into their roles. Sometimes a sophomore gets in the game and you don’t know they are out there, but these two guys both were impactful and both made plays.”

As happy as Leonard said he was to finish the season with a win, the coach admitted he is disappointed to see the season end. After watching his team struggle during its first three games, Leonard said the Crusaders appeared to turn a corner against the Cougars.

“I think we didn’t get the ball rolling as quickly as we could’ve this season,” he said. “I think we were a better team than 1-3 and it was nice to finally put the pieces together in this final game. You could see — we ran the ball well and threw it well and played good defense — it makes you wonder how these guys would’ve looked if they had a few more games.”

When asked about the season in general, Leonard was quick to praise his seniors. They went through a lot over the past 12 months, and he said he was proud to see those players, particularly those who have been around the program for a long time, such as Joe Small, leave on a happy note.

Leonard understands Cape Tech will have to rebuild next year; a tall task given the talent that will graduate from the school next month. However, the coach remains optimistic about the future, thanks in part to what he saw from his squad during Saturday’s contest.

“We’re very appreciative for our seniors and all they gave to the program, but we’re also excited about the future,” Leonard said. “There are some good athletes who are going to be coming up through the pipe, and the next few years are going to be excited for Cape Tech football.”

Email Brad Joyal at brad@capecodchronicle.com