Rob Bambini suited up for five varsity games at Westwood High, the last five of his senior year in 2008.
His promising freshman season at Curry ended after four games, including two starts, with a broken ankle. A Division 3 preseason All-American, Bambini was sidelined the first two games this season, not coincidentally a pair of losses, with an injury.
The lanky 6-foot-3-inch, 190-pound senior is now the program's all-time leader in receptions (181), receiving yards (2,537), and touchdown catches (32).
And that 32d touchdown reception undoubtedly is his most memorable.
On Saturday, he hauled in a 39-yard Hail Mary heave from junior quarterback Kevin Fruwirth with one second remaining against visiting Western New England, catapulting Curry to a 35-32 New England Football Conference victory in Milton.
It capped a magnificent 14-catch, 177-yard, four-touchdown performance for Bambini.
On Wednesday afternoon, he accompanied Curry assistant Dick Yule to Harvard's Dillon Fieldhouse to receive this week's Gridiron Club of Greater Boston Division 2-3 Gold Helmet Award from the New England Football Writers.
University of Maine junior defensive end Michael Cole, who racked up five sacks and a forced fumble in the Black Bears' 26-3 upset at Delaware, was the Division 1 winner.
"Our quarterback could be standing up here," said Bambini, saluting the play of Fruwirth, a transfer from Saint Anselm who has taken command of the Curry huddle in his first season as the starter. "He threw for 394 yards and five touchdowns. He is a great leader."
But Bambini is clearly the difference-maker.
"As soon as he came to Curry, we said, 'He can do, he's got it,' " said Yule, who directs the offense for the Colonels.
"He can run down the field and catch the football, he's a great route runner ... he can run with the football after he catches it, and he is a good downfield blocker," said Yule, the Colonels' offensive coordinator.
"But that next level, whether you have it or not, is whether you can make big plays in big games. He can do that. He has won more football games for us in the last four years than I can account for. And he's not the quarterback, or the running back, he's the wide receiver. And the other teams know that he is going to get the football."
Head coach Skip Bandini, his 3-3 squad gearing up for Saturday's matchup at 6-0 Salve Regina, the top-ranked Division 3 team in New England, believes Bambini is one of the best receivers in New England, "and I am not talking Division 3, I'm talking overall.
"He played one year of high school football. If he had played two years of high school football, he would have been a scholarship kid. He is the real deal."
Bandini was not pleased when Bambini was left off the All-New England squad last December.
In four games this season, Bambini has 45 catches, eight touchdowns, and is averaging 130.8 yards per game. A year ago, he had a school-record 67 catches.
It's been quite a leap to stardom for Bambini, a three-year varsity basketball player at Westwood who was encouraged to go out for the football team as a senior by his mother, Kerry Donovan.
"She said, 'You should be playing football,' " recalled Bambini. "I really wasn't doing anything in the fall anyway besides getting ready for the basketball season."
Turned to out to be one of the best decisions he has ever made.
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