In Absence of Moriarty, Cuqua and Salvant Fill the Holes

Walpole's sophomore runningback carrying the ball against rival, Natick.

Walpole’s sophomore runningback carrying the ball against rival, Natick.

Peter Hoegler

cuqua

Years from now, when we look back at the unbelievable football game between Walpole and Natick, we will remember two specific players: the All-Star Natick quarterback Troy Flutie, and Walpole sophomore Steve Cuqua.

The Walpole running back stole the show Friday October 25, rushing for 305 yards on 43 carries and scoring six times. In one of the prettiest plays of the night, with four minutes left in the contest, Cuqua took a toss from senior quarterback Will Bolster to the left sideline, slipped inside two kick-out blocks and raced 73 yards to the end-zone. It was his final touchdown of regulation, giving the Rebels their final lead of the night at 49-42.

“Cuqua is kind of one of what I call our real good sophomores,” Head Coach Barry Greener said in his post-game interview with ESPNBoston. “Tremendous football player, had a big game against Foxborough first game of the year, but he was sharing it with our captain Connor Moriarty. But Connor has been out for a number of weeks so Cuqua, with the help of sophomore Lovevindjy Salvant, has had to do everything himself. And I mean, he’s ready for the trauma unit right now, he’s really beat up.”

Down the road, this could turn into one of the state’s most dynamic tailback tandems, with sophomore Lovindjy Salvant providing a shifty change of pace to the hard-charging Cuqua, who dished out some violent pops tonight on dives up the middle. But in the near future, the Rebels could benefit greatly from this kind of production, should injured senior running back Connor Moriarty (ankle) be ready for the first round of next week’s MIAA Division 3 Southwest playoffs against North Attleborough .

Against Natick, the Rebels came out in some spread looks, using trips and double-slot formations, stretching the Natick defense horizontally with a combination of speed and jet sweeps for  Salvant (7 carries, 121 yards, TD), as well as inside zone reads with Cuqua.

“Obviously we were having trouble stopping counter, Cuqua is only a sophomore, which is unbelievable, I can’t believe we have to see him for two more years,” Natick coach Mark Mortarelli said. “We just gambled, we played man and blitzed.”

But on the final game (on Walpole’s attempt for two), Natick did something they couldn’t do all night: stop Cuqua. The Rebels called for a draw play up the middle, but several Natick defenders anticipated it and stuffed Cuqua at the two yard line to win 56-55 (F/OT).

Greener was certain on the call, trusting his sophomore half back. “No doubt. We couldn’t stop them, we couldn’t match them,” Greener said about the decision to go for the win. “We had nothing left.”

Walpole will head to North Attleborough this Friday to take on the Redrocketeers in the first round of the Division 3 Tournament. It will certainly be tough for North to stop the sophomore double tandem. Expect another shootout.