H.S. Football: Nolan Otto delivers on both sides for Belchertown in victory over Smith Vocational

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  • Belchertown's Joshua Grillo runs into a tackle by Smith Academy senior Caden Guimond (11), playing for Smith Vocational, in the first half of the Orioles' win over the visiting Vikings on Friday, Sept. 10, 2021. At right is Hunter Menard of Smith Vocational. —STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • Belchertown quarterback Nolan Otto (1) takes a stutter step on a keeper against Smith Vocational in the first half of the Orioles' win over the visiting Vikings on Friday, Sept. 10, 2021, in Belchertown. —STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • Smith Vocational senior Orien Blake, left, outruns Belchertown senior Erik Magner on a kickoff return in the first half of the Vikings' road loss to the Orioles on Friday, Sept. 10, 2021, in Belchertown. Blake was only stopped by the kicker, Matthew Tilton, at the Orioles' 41. —STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • Belchertown's Christopher Daskam (5) Smith Vocational in the first half of the Orioles' win over the visiting Vikings on Friday, Sept. 10, 2021. —STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • Belchertown's Joshua Grillo, center, gets help from Christopher Daskam, left, and Erik Magner, right, in getting past Jared Baer (12) of Smith Vocational in the first half of the Orioles' 20-6 win over the visiting Vikings on Friday in Belchertown. Please see gazettenet.com/sports for full game coverage and additional photos. STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • Smith Vocational in white, runs a play against Belchertown in the first half of the Vikings' road loss to the Orioles on Friday, Sept. 10, 2021, in Belchertown. —STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

Staff Writer
Published: 9/10/2021 11:11:29 PM

BELCHERTOWN — Nolan Otto gave Belchertown options. The senior quarterback gave Smith Vocational trouble.

He threw for 168 yards and two touchdowns and ran for a third Friday night, as the Orioles football team opened the season with a 20-6 independent victory.

The Vikings linebackers stalled Belchertown’s running attack with well-timed linebacker blitzes. Penalties also hampered the Orioles. They committed an illegal shift and holding on their first two plays.

Then Otto took to the air. He connected on a 26-yard pass to Landon Andre to loosen the defense. Seven plays and two more penalties later, Otto pounded in for a one-yard touchdown for a 6-0 lead with 6 minutes, 24 seconds left in the first.

After four plays and out by Smith Vocational, the Orioles threw on three of their next four plays, and Otto found Christopher Daskam for an 8-yard score and a 12-0 lead with 2:30 left in the first.

“We adjusted off that first drive, and I think we decided ‘hey that secondary’s not as good as we think it is.’ Those corners are up,” Otto said. “We can air it out.”

The Vikings found their footing in the second quarter and started to confuse Belchertown’s line with stunts and blitzes. After a scoreless second frame, the Vikings received the second-half kickoff. Erik Magner and the Orioles defensive line forced a massive loss on first down, then Magner recovered a fumble on second down.

Two bad snaps forced a Belchertown punt from Matthew Tilton, who also plays defensive line. A block in the back and unsportsmanlike conduct put the ball at the Vikings 4. The Orioles defense held for four plays and forced a punt they fair caught in Smith Vocational territory.

One run lost yardage, then Otto connected with Daskam for five yards and Samuel PreFontaine for an 8-yard touchdown and a 20-0 lead. Otto ran in the two-point conversion.

“If you’ve got wide receivers like my guys, you’ve got to be able to air it out,” said Belchertown coach Dan McCarthy, a Northampton native.

Smith Vocational pulled its passing game together early in the fourth quarter. Sophomore quarterback Alex Martinez connected with Cole Boisvert for 25 yards then ran for another 24. Martinez hit Boisvert for another five yards to get into the red zone. Jared Baer ran for another four yards to bring up third and one from the Belchertown 8. The Vikings turned to Baer again, and he powered for another four yards. Two plays later, Martinez hit Boisvert for a five-yard touchdown that cut the Vikings deficit to 20-6 with 6:17 left.

“(Martinez) is a sophomore, but he plays like he’s a college sophomore. He’s composed and his attitude is at that level,” Smith Vocational coach Alex Subocz said. “We’ve got to get his skill here. I don’t care who we’re playing against, what drive, put him at quarterback.”

Belchertown ground the next four minutes off the clock with a 12-play drive that ended near the Smith Vocational goal line with a turnover on downs.

Martinez got the ball back with a little over a minute left. He threw an incompletion, then Otto intercepted his second down pass. The Belchertown quarterback turned safety nearly had a one-handed pick in the first half but couldn’t hold onto it between his legs. Otto didn’t let the second opportunity slip.

“I didn’t even want to play defense. I can’t hit to save my life,” Otto said. “I dropped that first one, and I was pretty mad. I had a bad second half on offense, so I thought I might as well make it up on defense and end the game there.”

He kneeled the ball twice to finish out McCarthy’s first career win in his debut.

“It’s exciting that we’re changing the culture here. Belchertown football is known as a losing culture. We’re here to change that,” Otto said. “Everyone in our school, everyone in our town, everyone in Western Mass. does not believe in Belchertown football. We’re gonna change that.”

McCarthy saw a familiar face across the field during his debut in Subocz. They’re both from Northampton and played football together at the youth and high school levels.

“It’s a great moment because he’s a great coach,” McCarthy said. “It’s an honor to be able to coach against him. He mentored me when I was playing football with him and it’s kind of cool to be able to coach against him now.”

Kyle Grabowski can be reached at kgrabowski@gazettenet.com. Follow him on Twitter @kylegrbwsk.

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