GROTON -- On a damp, rainy, fall afternoon, the 3-1 Groton-Dunstable Crusaders were busy kicking up mud and grass as one would imagine, preparing for their afternoon clash with the 1-3 Clinton Gaels.
The Crusaders have yet to chalk up a W in the win column against Clinton over their last three meetings. Groton-Dunstable is 0-3 all-time against the Gaels. Last year, Groton-Dunstable fell to Clinton 22-20 in an overtime barnburner at the Clinton Veterans Memorial Athletics Complex. They are looking to better their all-time mark against the Gaels today.
Head coach Derek Asadoorian gave his thoughts on today's opponent. "I have a lot of respect for Clinton, even though they're only 1-3, they were 0-4 when they beat us last year. They've proven to be a very difficult team for us to beat, or any team to beat for that matter."
Today's matchup pits two teams with tickets to ride on two different emotional rollercoasters.
The Crusaders are looking to pull the mud and the muck out of their helmets, and start fresh against the Gaels. Groton-Dunstable was recently battered by the Westford Academy Grey Ghosts, 41-6. The wet, sloppy weather conditions were no excuse for the Crusaders lackluster effort in their only loss of the season. The only points the Crusaders were able to muster came in a 4-yard rushing touchdown by Shane Dawson in the fourth quarter.
The Galloping Gaels limped out of the starting gates with three straight losses to Littleton, Gardner and Lunenburg. Clinton has been outscored by a combined margin of 97-54. Head Coach Paul Constantino's group has scored an average of 13.5 points-per-game.
Asadoorian believes fans will be treated to a hard-nose gridiron battle. "Clinton is Clinton. They do some nice things, and they'll do some things to make our offense fight for every yard we get. Their offense is a well-oiled machine and they're always a tough team to defend."
Groton-Dunstable must not look back to Saturday's loss and focus on the current task it faces against the Gaels. Clinton is fresh off a squeaker of win over a weaker than usual Oakmont group, 21-20, and have begun its Mid-Wachusett C league play with a bang.
"It's very competitive across the board. There isn't a team that's a front-runner, and everyone is on equal ground," said coach Asadoorian.
Both teams are undefeated in conference play at 1-0, as the Crusaders managed to scrape by Quabbin Regional, 28-27.
Groton Dunstable rests in second place, directly behind Tyngsboro. If the Tigers falter in their league matchup with Gardner and Groton-Dunstable takes care of business today, the Crusaders will move into a tie for first place. Kickoff is slated for 4 p.m. on the campus of Groton-Dunstable High School.
Asadorian and the Crusaders want nothing to do with the standings scenarios this early in the season. "We're not really looking at the standings at this point. We need to take care of our own business and the standings will be something we look at at the end of the season to evaluate how we did."
Players/stats to watch for
* Asadoorian's squad is headlined by running back Quintin Forbes, who averages 13.5 yards per-carry on 15 attempts, totaling 202 yards with three rushing touchdowns.
* Junior signal caller Mack Eberheart has completed 17 of 35 passes thrown for 403 yards and five touchdowns. Eberheart currently sits as the 10th-ranked quarterback in Central Mass.
* The Gaels defense is currently giving up an average of 26.8 points per game in its previous four contests.
* Both Groton-Dunstable and Clinton are undefeated in Mid-Wachusett C league play with equal records of 1-0.
* The Gaels rank fifth overall in league play, while the Crusaders currently rank second overall in the Mid-Wach C.