Brunswick football ready for NEPSAC Wayne Sanborn Bowl

Brunswick’s Jack Knight gets the handoff during a recent game at Cosby Field. — Avery Belicka photo

Brunswick’s Jack Knight gets the handoff during a recent game at Cosby Field. — Avery Belicka photo

Looking at where the Brunswick School football program was four years ago, head coach Jarrett Shine couldn’t be more proud of where the Bruins are right now.

With the family and fundamentals mentality that he’s had since taking over the Brunswick program, Shine was highly optimistic that better days were ahead for his team, despite its record.

Last year the Bruins broke through by netting only one loss and competing in the team’s first New England Championship Bowl, the Jack Etter Bowl. Backing up what happened last year, Brunswick finished this season once again with only one loss and will be bowling for the second consecutive season.

“It’s been one nice ride,” Shine said. “Once again we started with a loss to start the season and we ran the table the rest of the way. The kids got better every week. There is still another game to be played and the kids know they have to prepare for a big game on Saturday.”

Once again the Bruins will take the bus up to Avon Old Farms and this time will compete in the Wayne Sanborn Bowl against perennial powers Governor’s Academy out of Boston.

“It’s so important for us to be able to play in another bowl game this year,” Shine said. “I’m sure a lot of people are wondering about us. They know we did a great job last year, but was it a fluke or a one-and-done kind of thing. A lot of our kids stepped up and said that we have a lot to prove still. And they did that. We’re going to another bowl. We are starting to build a successful program here and I couldn’t be happier.”

Brunswick will kick off against Governor’s Academy, a team that is currently 7-1 and has been to four consecutive New England Championship Bowl games, at 1 p.m.

Brunswick School running back JD Donahey goes for some positive yardage during last year's Jack Etter Bowl game against Andover. — Rachel Silverfarb photo

Brunswick School running back JD Donahey goes for some positive yardage during last year’s Jack Etter Bowl game against Andover. — Rachel Silverfarb photo

Brunswick, which has done a stellar job riding its momentum all season to a 6-1 overall record, saw its regular season end a week earlier than most.

The Bruins had a bye week this past weekend, so when Brunswick steps onto the field at Avon Old Farms for the Wayne Sanborn Bowl, it will be two weeks since it last played a football game.

“It’s a tough spot,” Shine said. “The important part was keeping the kids motivated. What we did was take things light last week, but really focused on the assignments. We took it slow and made sure that if the kids had any questions, we could address them immediately. This week we ramped up the practices. I think it’s good that we had the bye week because we had a lot of injuries that we can heal from. This is actually good timing for this.”

In order to get the opportunity to compete in a bowl game, Brunswick had some business to take care of first. On Nov. 1, the Bruins traveled to Deerfield Academy and came away with the team’s first shutout of the season, 45-0.

“It was a very cold day and it was unlike any environment or temperature we played in all season long,” Shine said. “We were trying to figure out how the kids were going to react to that weather and playing on grass for the first time this year. We practiced on grass all week, so I think the kids got used to that and that wasn’t a factor.”

Leading the way for the Bruins was Billy O’Malley, as the quarterback finished with close to 350 yards and had five touchdowns.

“Billy did a great job managing the game, just like he has been doing all season long,” Shine said. “He was throwing some really good balls. He threw for 350 yards and had five touchdowns. We had guys around him like Sean Morris, Rich Walston and Cam Kelly all had great games around him.”

Walston and Morris both finished with two touchdown receptions, while Kelly added another touchdown reception. On the ground, the duo of JD Donahey and Jason Kennedy each found the end zone once.

“Deerfield plays in a very tough conference and I didn’t know exactly what to expect,” Shine said. “We knew that if we play our best, we can play with any team out there on the field. Their defense was solid and offensively we know we can put points on the board, but it was about if we could stop their offense.”

Throughout the season, the offense has been posting those high marks. Even more impressive is the team’s defense, which has not been too friendly to its opposition.

The defensive line of Matt Gendell, Patrick Adamo and Brendan Davis, along with linebackers Austin Meacham, Alex Russel and John Fox and corners Malik Wilder and Kelly, have been giving the opposing team’s offense fits this season.

Against Deerfield in the regular season finale, Adamo had three sacks, while Kelly added two interceptions. As a team, the Bruins had seven sacks on the day.

Throughout the season, Brunswick has allowed an average of only 16.2 points per game and 10.8 points per games since its season-opening loss to Avon Old Farms, 49-34.

“We have been playing lights out defense in my opinion and I think the best we’ve played in a long time,” Shine said. “We are playing with a lot of confidence and playing physical football and taking care of their assignments.”

Regardless of the outcome of Saturday’s game against Governor’s Academy, Shine will have a smile on his face, knowing how hard his team worked to get to this point.

“This is very rewarding,” Shine said. “To think where we were four years prior to going to a bowl last year was a tough situation. But we grew as a team, grew as a program and now the kids realize that we can play and beat the best. Four years ago people were wondering why we were even in this league and now there’s no question with that. We are in a great league and have an opportunity to win it.”

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