It’s been a foregone conclusion by most local high school football fans that the Marshfield Rams suffered through a sub-par season and are playing out the string on Thanksgiving Day. It couldn’t be any further from the truth.

A flicker of hope is still burning for the Rams, and prayers are being said for Plymouth South, who must beat Plymouth North if the Rams are to stay in contention to take on Duxbury in the MIAA Division 2A semifinals on Nov. 30.

A two-way tie atop the Atlantic Coast Conference will send Marshfield to the playoffs, as they beat Dennis-Yarmouth, 14-12, earlier in the season. A win by Plymouth North over South will have the Dragons taking on Dennis-Yarmouth
While the Turkey Day game between the Plymouths is crucial to Marshfield’s future, the game with Duxbury is also important for the Marshfield seniors, who have yet to beat the Dragons in the annual game during their four-year high school careers.

With a 5-4 overall record, this could shape up as the Rams’ Super Bowl game and there is no doubt the hosts would love to snap Duxbury’s unbeaten streak at 10 and their winless senior streak at three.

Leading the series 12-11-2, Coach Lou Silva will take a Rams squad onto the field that will be a rare sight for Duxbury fans. No longer is Marshfield the smash-mouth football team that terrorized opponents on the South Shore and produced linemen of college proportions that made its running game so productive.

The 2010 Rams return just three seniors and have close to eight or nine players on the shelf, putting Silva in a position he has rarely been in in his 29 years of coaching.

“We just don’t have the depth on this team,” said Silva. “Most of these kids were backups last year.”

While depth could be a problem for the Rams, it hasn’t been one for the Dragons, who carry 34 sophomores on the team, many of who start or have played significant roles in Duxbury’s undefeated season.

“Our record may not look that great, but four of the first six games we played this year were against teams that have already made the playoffs,” said Silva.

Running the show for Marshfield is senior QB Jonathan Fraser, with juniors Bryan Mey, Mark Pomella and Mike Williams as his running backs. While the offensive line is one of the smaller groups in Silva’s tenure, it still sports junior Anthony Vaughn (6’1’/245) at right tackle and junior guard Jake Galler (6’1”/210) along side. Center Jeffrey Wallace (5’10”/225), guard Michael McGuiggan (6’0”/220), and tackle Matthew Entwistle (6’3”/190) round out the offensive line.

“We had to tweak our offense this year,” said Silva. “We just couldn’t overpower people like we did in the past. We had to work hard at out-scheming people and using the quick passing game and getting our kids out in space.’
While size may no longer be an advantage for the Rams, it isn’t because of any drop-off in the Marshfield feeder system.

“The numbers are good. We just don’t have that many big kids like in the past,” said Silva.
One area where the offense has suffered is in points scored, as the Rams are averaging just under 17 points per game, compared to Duxbury’s 30.

“Williams and Pomella are the power runners inside. Then we try to get Mey, Fraser, Derek Damon, and Jake Ryan as our outside threats. We basically run from the tackles out,” said Silva, who admits his offense has turned into a dink and dunk Patriot-like attack. “Short passes, play-action passes, quick hitches and quick outs. That is the stuff we like to run now.”

One area where Marshfield can match the Dragons is defensive speed according to Silva.

“We’ve got kids that can run. All of our kids on the defensive side are quick and our linebacking corps is pretty solid. Pomella and Wallace on the inside have been tremendous this year. They are relentless to the ball and they go both ways, but don’t seem to get tired.”

Facing Duxbury’s offense has been a challenge for most defenses, but Silva knows what he has to do in order to stop the Dragons.

“First off we have to make those QBs uncomfortable and put pressure on them to disrupt the passing game so they have to beat us with the run,” said Silva. “We need to prevent the quick strike. They are a big-play offense and we need them to dink and dunk it all the way down the field. We have to take away the big play, and offensively we need to find a way to keep them from putting nine guys up on the line. We have to spread things out with different formations and keep them from clogging the line of scrimmage.”

While this rivalry continues to produce winning teams that make it deep into the playoffs, it looks like this could be Duxbury’s year for revenge and bragging rights on the South Shore.