Aug 302014

Groton-Dunstable Crusaders head football coach Derek Asadoorian is taking the preseason one day at a time. Coming off scrimmages this week with Westford last Saturday, Dracut on Tuesday, and Littleton on Friday, he said, “The biggest game right now is our first one against Gardner (Friday, September 12). We’re on our way. The goal is to get better every day.”

A one-day-at-a-time approach is what a team like G-D needs, considering two of Asadoorian’s concerns are his team’s depth and ability to stay healthy.

The 2013 Crusaders faced an uphill battle when starting quarterback Quintin Forbes missed six games with an injury. Corey Romich filled in admirably, but the team finished 5-6 in 2013 (2-3 Mid-Wach B), falling to the second-seed Hudson Hawks in the MIAA Division 4 Central quarterfinals. Forbes returned in time for the Thanksgiving finale against Tyngsboro and accounted for four of the team’s five touchdowns in a 35-21 victory over the Tigers.

Now, with Forbes graduated, Romich, a junior, has the keys to the offense. The team has a slew of veterans on tap to kick the door the rest of the way open: four senior offensive linemen — David Fei, Andy Femia, P.J. Kendall, and Ronnie Peck — and two senior offensive playmakers — running back Joey Orlando and wide receiver Drew Moore.

“We run a high-tempo offense that relies a lot on communication,” Asadoorian said. “We’re option-based. There’s a lot to learn mentally as well as physically. But the kids that are returning from last year, even our sophomores, have picked up the intensity well and are really studying well.”

Last Saturday’s scrimmage against Westford was indicative of the areas that Asadoorian feels will be his team’s strengths and weaknesses. The Crusaders didn’t have many big plays on offense, but picked up consistent medium-yardage chunks that kept the ball moving. Their speed was also on display on both sides of the ball.

Westford had a big play in their final offensive series on a swing pass that set them up at the G-D 3-yard line, but the Crusader defense imposed their will and prevented the Grey Ghosts from getting into the end zone. Asadoorian said that his team’s success will hinge on limiting plays like that.

“I was really happy with the defense,” Asadoorian said. “I thought we were stout in the middle … offensively, I thought we a had a high tempo on our first drive … our backs were running hard and we were getting decent blocking … [Romich] was executing well.”

“We’re happy with where we’re at. It’s our first test. I thought both teams showed some good things out there. It’s just a place to start from, and we’ll build from here.”

The Crusaders’ final scrimmage is at Clinton on Friday, September 6th. Asadoorian uses the scrimmages to help his team improve on its overall performance clean up some plays. Hs is entering his seventh season at the helm of the Crusaders.

Even with the day-by-day approach, there’s still one long-term goal for Asadoorian’s team: “This is just a starting point, and we’re hoping we play our best game on Thanksgiving.”