TAUNTON, Mass. – Alex Estrella views his job as a punt returner to be simple.
It only involves darting behind the wedge set in front of him, gaining the outside edge and then running as fast as he can to the end zone.
“It’s that easy,” the Somerset senior said.
In premise, it is easy, but not always so easily accomplished.
However, Estrella made it look natural as the Blue Raiders rode the momentum created by his 56-yard punt return for a touchdown early in the first quarter to cruise past boarder rival Dighton-Rehoboth, 28-0, in the Division 3 Eastern Mass semifinal on Tuesday.
“It was a good thing,” Blue Raiders head coach Nick Freitas said plainly. “It always helps when you can win the battle on special teams. It definitely helped to set the tone.”
Somerset (12-0) would strike again one minute after Estrella’s score. A Falcons fumble recovered by Edward Matanes set up shop for the Blue Raiders at the D-R 30-yard line. It took just one play for Jaron Spear to find the end zone on a 30-yard carry.
“We couldn’t have started off any worse, with them running that [punt] back and us fumbling,” Falcons head coach Dave Driscoll said. “Right away, we’re down 14-0 to a team that’s undefeated.”
D-R’s unenviable position became direr when Adam Ledoux took in the quarterback sneak from a yard out for a 21-0 Somerset lead with 1:13 remaining in the first half.
The Falcons (10-2) showed some resistance, however, and threatened to score before the half was out. A 47-yard kickoff return by Bryan Rocha had D-R starting at the Blue Raiders’ 35. The Falcons weren’t able to crack the end zone though as John Kyle Silva’s pass went incomplete on a third and goal from the 7-yard line to end the half.
D-R managed only 51 yards of offense in the first half.
Somerset added some insurance on a 41-yard screen pass from Ledoux to Spear in the third quarter.
From then on, the Blue Raiders continued to bleed the clock and chew up yards on the ground. Running out of the double wing Spear (14 carries, 102 yards) and Seth DeMello (19 carries, 121 yards) were too much to contain.
“It’s going to have to be a real good team to beat them,” Driscoll said of Somerset, his alma mater.
The team that will be posed that task Saturday is Beverly, which at 6-6 qualified to play at Gillette Stadium for the Division 3 Super Bowl with a 41-14 win over Scituate on Tuesday.
“We have the school behind us,” Estrella said. “It’s been a rallying point and it’s a goal that we set for ourselves back in January, when we were lifting, running. This is what it’s all about.”
Somerset 14 7 7 0 -- 28
D-R 0 0 0 0 -- 0
S Alex Estrella 56-yard punt return (T.J. Eisle kick)
S Jaron Spear 30-yard run (Eisle kick)
S Adam Ledoux 1-yard run (Eisle kick)
S Jaron Spear 41-yard pass from Ledoux (Eisle kick)