MARBLEHEAD — Marblehead coach Jim Rudloff calls it “Caveman Quarterback,” those turbulent initial stages of learning how to play the most complex position in football.
For 6-foot-7-inch, 245-pound behemoth Andy Clough, a burly stature only added to the challenge of transitioning from his longtime slot at tight end to running the Magicians’ offense.
“I was mainly a tight end,” Clough said. “I was planning on playing tight end this year but my shoulder got hurt and then, four weeks in I think, I got switched to quarterback. I’ve been playing all year. It’s been a lot of fun.”
Clough cherished every minute of Thursday’s 35-17 Thanksgiving Day victory over Swampscott, the senior making the most of his final high school contest with an overwhelming mix of brute force and sterling precision. Clough ran for 114 yards and two touchdowns on eight carries, adding 182 yards of passing and a third score through the air to secure Marblehead’s second straight 10-1 campaign.
Marblehead leads the all-time Thanksgiving series, 54-51-7.
“He did a great job,” said Rudloff. “Normally the quarterbacks in the offseason will go to a quarterback camp or two, they’ll do the seven-on-sevens with the team, spend some time learning their reads and all that other stuff. He never got a chance to do any of that. He spent the entire summer visiting colleges as a tight end.
“What’s really incredible is he never had the little detailed practices that you do for quarterbacks, so he had to come in and just start learning ‘Caveman Quarterback’ — you know, run [and] pass. He has a great arm, he can run, he’s a physical specimen. There’s very little he can’t do. Once he learned the position we were much better with him in there.”
Swampscott (7-4) got off to a blazing start, procuring a 10-0 first-quarter advantage when senior quarterback Colin Frary hit Emanuel Teshowa on a smoothly executed out-and-up from 53 yards.
From there, Marblehead got to work, scoring on four straight possessions that featured a 75-yard Clough scamper for a 28-10 lead into the break.
Marblehead completed five passes of more than 25 yards, dissecting the Swampscott secondary and prompting a bevy of Big Blue penalties.
“It was definitely a shock when they went up that quickly,” Clough said. “I basically told [my teammates], ‘Look, we’re not even out of the first quarter yet. We just have to keep fighting and the plays will start coming.’
“Obviously we didn’t finish the season how we wanted to in Melrose, but all the seniors agreed that we had to come out here, play a full set of four quarters, and if we did that we’d be pretty good. [Today is] special. With all the history we have, it’s phenomenal.”