FOXBOROUGH — Two weeks before the 2021 season began, Swampscott senior running back Xaviah Bascon was strapped in a back brace questioning his future in the sport.
Four months later, he was celebrating with his Big Blue teammates on the grass at Gillette Stadium after rushing for 143 yards and throwing a touchdown pass Wednesday night in No. 2 Swampscott’s 14-7 Division 5 Super Bowl win over top-seeded North Reading.
“It’s surreal,” said Bascon, who was a sophomore wide receiver when Swampscott won the 2019 D5 state title. “Second time being here and second time being on top. It means more than anything to me.”
Following a shortened Fall II season in which Swampscott played just four games, Bascon was diagnosed with two fractures in his spine, taking him out of commission all summer. But once the season began he hit the ground running and by Thanksgiving he had broken the school’s single-season rushing record.
“I was in a back brace questioning if I’d be able to play at a high level,” Bascon said. “To be able to be here with my coaches and my team and finish on top like this is a dream come true.”
It didn’t quite feel like a dream for junior cornerback Jason Codispoti, who intercepted two passes and added 49 receiving yards.
“It feels fake,” he said. “More than a dream. It feels fake. It’s unreal.”
The Big Blue (12-1) captured their fourth championship in program history behind a stingy defense that held strong despite early turnovers from the offense. In the first half, thanks to an interception by Craig Rubino and a forced fumble by Casey O’Connor, North Reading (11-2) drove to the 5- and 13-yard lines on separate possessions, but came away empty both times.
“We don’t let people score,” Codispoti said. “We did what we could do and stopped them when we had to. We came in and punched them in the mouth as hard as we could every play.”
Coach Bob Serino credited defensive coordinator Peter Bush with a game plan that held North Reading 31.7 points below its season average. The Hornets finished with just 55 rushing yards.
“If you remember back two years ago, coach Bush went against the highest scoring team in the state [Amherst-Pelham] and he shut them out,” Serino said, referring to a 21-0 win in the 2019 Super Bowl. “I have absolutely no question in saying coach Bush and [offensive coordinator Bob] Serino [III] do a fantastic job.”
Added Bascon: “Coach Bush is the greatest coach I’ve ever been coached by. The amount of film that guy puts in on an everyday basis is ridiculous. In the spring during track season I’ll walk in and he’s watching film. He’s a nut when it comes to film.”
After both teams struggled with the magnitude of the moment early, Swampscott got on the board with 4:01 left in the second quarter when Cam O’Brien capped a 69-yard drive with a 9-yard touchdown run.
On the opening drive of the second half, Swampscott called up a little trickery as Bascon tossed a halfback pass to Cole Hamernick for a 30-yard touchdown. It was a play they’d never run in a game and had only practiced minimally.
“It was a huge play,” Bascon said. “The coaches got my arm right throughout the season when Cam had to sit out a game. My arm has been ready, they called in the play and great execution.”
North Reading put some pressure on the Big Blue defense late after junior quarterback Alex Carucci scored on a 1-yard run with 1:42 left. With a minute left, the Hornets recovered their third fumble of the game, but the final drive went nowhere, setting off the second state title celebration in Swampscott in three years.
“It’s been a long season and it’s a really nice way to finish it off,” Serino said.
Swampscott 14, North Reading 7
Division 5 Super Bowl
at Gillette Stadium, Foxborough
Swampscott (12-1) 0 7 7 0 — 14
North Reading (11-2) 0 0 0 7 — 7
S — Cam O’Brien 9 run (Pat Wolfe kick)
S — Cole Hamernick 38 pass from Xaviah Bascon (Pat Wolfe kick)
NR — Alex Carucci 1 run (Matt Guidebeck kick)
RUSHING — NR, Will Batten 12-32, Alex Carucci 12-16, Craig Rubino 1-10, Ryan McCullough 3-(-4); S, Xaviah Bascon 20-143, Cam O’Brien 8-60.
PASSING — NR, Alex Carucci 15-20-2—112, Craig Rubino 2-3—70; S, Cam O’Brien 11-19—113, Xaviah Bascon 1-1—38.
RECEIVING — NR, Ryan McCullough 14-154, Will Batten 3-16, Craig Rubino 1-12; S, Cole Hamernick 3-54, Jason Codispoti 3-49, Xaviah Bascon 4-27, Nakarree Davis 1-11, Elijah Burns 1-10.