To his teammates, Cam Latta is known as the “Silent Assassin.”
With 2,240 passing yards and a single-season, school-record 25 touchdown passes, the senior captain at Lowell High chooses to lead by example.
So offensive lineman Callen Vail was surprised, to say the least, when Latta walked into the locker room prior to the Red Raiders’ bout against Billerica in Week 7 and energized his teammates.
Latta “keeps to himself,” Vail said. “He’s never been the type of kid going crazy all the time. But before the Billerica game, we were all really quiet and he got everyone pumped up. And it showed myself and the coaches that he really bought into this, and he wanted to play and he stepped up big-time.”
Latta — who took over as quarterback this season from 2012 grad R.J. Noel, the reigning Merrimack Valley Large co-offensive MVP — fired three touchdown passes to lead the Red Raiders to a 36-23 win against Haverhill on Thanksgiving Day.
Last season, Latta started at middle linebacker while Noel led the offense. “He did well at linebacker, and I thought he might stay there,” Vail said. “But the way he filled R.J.’s shoes really impressed a lot of people and he stood out a lot.”
But for Latta and the 9-2 Red Raiders, there is no trip to the postseason.
When Andover beat Central Catholic on Thanksgiving, it created a logjam atop the MVC Large, with all three teams at 3-1 in conference play. Because Lowell beat Andover, and Central Catholic beat Lowell, the head-to-head tiebreaker did not apply and a complex point system was used to determine Andover as league champion.
Lowell’s 21-0 loss to MVC Small champion Tewksbury on Sept. 28 left the Red Raiders mathematically eliminated from playoff contention heading into Thanksgiving.
“We knew after everything ended, the loss to Tewksbury would affect us and it’d be tough to make it,” Latta said. “But all the seniors knew it was our last game [against Haverhill], so we wanted to go out on top and give it our best effort and come out with the win.”
It capped undoubtedly the best season of the last four at Lowell.
The Red Raiders were 2-9 his freshman season under Al Pare and were 5-6 under Jeff Moore the following year. Lowell was 6-5 last year under current coach John Florence.
Florence had the utmost confidence that Latta could lead a turnaround this fall, especially after watching him pitch the Red Raider baseball team to the Division 1 semifinals last spring.
“I always talk to the kids about playing other sports and competing,” Florence said of Latta, who has drawn interest from baseball coaches at Brandeis, Elms, Salem State, Saint Anselm, and Suffolk.
“And he was one of the best pitchers on the baseball team, and it was no different when he was at quarterback. He just has a real good presence to him that the kids rally around, and he is very confident.”
Next year, Lowell will be without Latta, Vail, senior linemen Nick Healy , Pete Balas , Andres Bolivar , Matt Vigeant , and 11 other seniors.
But a strong core is returning, led by junior running back Ngaiiva Mason , junior wide receiver Jack Galvin, and sophomore running back-linebacker Shyheim Cullen .
Rothwell leaves his mark
Players like Cody Rothwell are hard to come by. So when the running back transferred to Pentucket as a junior after attending St. John’s Prep, coach Steve Hayden rejoiced.
“As a coach, you’d like to have a few of those guys come around,” Hayden said. “You don’t get a player with those abilities often, so we take it as a blessing.”
Those abilities include breakaway speed and a keen knack for making defenders miss. Behind Rothwell, who rushed for 1,793 yards and 23 touchdowns, Pentucket (6-5) closed the season with a 41-12 thrashing of Triton.
The win came just 12 days after the Sachems lost to Cape Ann/Northeastern (Div. 3) champion Amesbury, 21-20, when quarterback Matt Talbot engineered a four-play, 52-yard game-winning drive in the final 32 seconds left.
Here and there
Bishop Fenwick’s regular-season loss to St. Mary’s eliminated the Crusaders from playoff contention. But in the Thanksgiving Day matchup against Austin Prep, quarterback Fran Hannon engineered a game-winning drive. With just 30 seconds left and his team trailing, 22-15, Hannon connected with James Traversey on a 35-yard touchdown pass. Sophomore running back Rufus Rushins hammered in the two-point conversion, capping the Crusaders’ 23-22 comeback victory. . . . In the most prolific performance of the season for Saugus, the Sachems blanked Peabody, 43-0, on the Tanners’ home turf. Senior back Nick Benoit rushed for two scores in the first quarter, Ryan Henehan hauled in an 80-yard pass from C.J. Randolph , and then Randolph, Ismael Minaya, and Ryan Clark added rushing TDs.