The talk of the preseason surrounding the Greater Middlesex Conference Blue Division was how much improved Spotswood would be this year.
It only took only one game for the Chargers to prove they’re going to be heard from when it comes time to crown a division champion later this fall.
It was an all-around effort — power running, solid defense, timely turnovers and superb special teams play — as Spotswood dispatched GMC Blue Division rival Middlesex, 40-13, at Spotswood High School on Saturday afternoon.
The result was much different from a year ago when these same clubs opened the season at the same site, and Middlesex torched the Chargers for over 230 yards rushing en route to victory.
Senior defensive end and captain Dominick Maselli, whose grandfather passed away just a month ago and was admittedly playing with a heavy heart, led the Spotswood defense with a pair of sacks.
“I told the defense they had to be hard off the ball,” Maselli said. “In last year’s game, we were not. I said we had to maintain our blocks and make plays and that’s exactly what we did. I couldn’t ask for anything else.”
Spotswood’s defense forced a fumble on the game’s opening drive, sending the Chargers offense to work.
On the seventh play of the drive after the turnover, senior running back Jack Messeroll ran a touchdown home from nine yards out.
But it was Dalrymple who would carry the offensive load on the day for the Chargers, picking up 159 yards rushing on 18 carries with a pair of touchdowns. One of the scores sealed the scoring and was from 55 yards out late in the fourth quarter.
“What allowed me to rack up the yards was the offensive linemen,” Dalrymple said. “They got the push up front. It’s all on them. When I get hit, I just try and plow for a few extra yards.”
After Middlesex answered on the ensuing possession with a 3-yard touchdown plunge by Kyle Brady for a 7-6 lead, the game was all Spotswood.
On the next possession, Spotswood junior quarterback hooked up with senior split end Corey Brown on a swing pass for a 52-yard gain all the way down to the Middlesex 4-yard line. Two plays later, Dalrymple plunged in for a 1-yard touchdown and Spotswood had the lead for the rest of the afternoon.
The next possession saw the Chargers defense, which was abysmal a year ago, step up and put points on the board. Chris Wodeshick ran back a 40-yard interception for a touchdown, distancing Spotswood in front 20-7 with 11:33 showing before halftime.
In the second half, Spotswood received a 63-yard punt return up the right sideline for a touchdown from Jeff Szatkowski.
“That’s just what Jeff does,” said Dalrymple.
Middlesex was playing without the services of running back and defensive end Al-Tarik Rushing for disciplinary reasons.