MATTAPOISETT — When Somerset Berkley football made the move out of the Eastern Athletic Conference after winning four straight league titles, the team did so with a first-year starting quarterback taking the reins in senior Chase Stafford.
The Blue Raiders’ initiation into the South Coast Conference took a positive turn as Stafford led Somerset Berkley to a 36-33 victory over Old Rochester to capture the SCC Large title.
“It’s a great feeling,” said Stafford. “But we still got a long way to go.”
Stafford suited up at the varsity level for the first time last season as a safety, but made the switch to quarterback this season. The transition, however, has been seamless.
“I don’t think it has been hard at all,” Stafford said. “It’s been amazing. It’s been a ride really, a grind.”
The senior was 7-for-12 passing with 177 yards and three touchdowns. His only blemish in the air was a second-half interception on a first-and-goal play.
All three of Stafford’s touchdowns came in the first half, including a 71-yard catch-and-run to Jake Meehan just two plays into the game. The duo linked up again late in the half on an 18-yard touchdown.
But on the ground, Stafford was lethal. On 19 carries, Stafford rushed for 147 yards. His most important came on a third and 22 in the fourth quarter as he scrambled for 27 yards and a first down to keep a scoring drive alive.
A Jacob Rebello touchdown two plays later would turn out to be the game winner.
“[Stafford’s] always had it,” said Somerset Berkley coach Nick Freitas. “It’s just how much we kind of let him go a little bit. “He’s a heady player, I really don’t know what else to say.”
Despite Old Rochester’s rampant running attack — including four scores by Harry Smith — the Blue Raiders’ defense shined through again, halting the Bulldogs on a late fourth-quarter drive to seal the win.
“We knew they were going to score points on us,” said Freitas. “We knew it was going to come down to some big plays in the end, and we came out on top this time.”Dan Shulman can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.