WEST ANDOVER — More than a full year later, Greater Lawrence coach Tony Sarkis still shutters at the thought of the gruesome ankle injury that derailed the junior season of quarterback Marcos Ortiz.
“It was the ugliest thing I have ever seen,” said Sarkis. “I’ve been involved in sports for a long time, and that was maybe the worst injury I have ever been around.”
The injury — which Ortiz described as his ankle and foot being “turned in the wrong direction” — may have stifled his junior campaign, but the senior signal-caller has certainly shown no lingering effects this season.
With 868 passing yards, the most for a Greater Lawrence QB since the Eagle-Tribune began keeping complete records, and 19 combined touchdowns, Ortiz forms half of the dynamic backfield duo — along with 2,000 yard rusher Cristian Rivera — that lead the Reggies into the State Vocational Bowl tonight at Lynn’s Manning Field.
Greater Lawrence (8-3) takes on Greater New Bedford (5-6), winners of two straight Tech Bowls including defeating the Reggies a season ago.
“We are really pumped up,” said Ortiz. “We came up short making the (MIAA) playoffs, so this is our biggest game of the season. If we can win this, we can walk away from the season with one championship.
“Every defense is focusing on Cristian. So when they are thinking about him, I’ll hit them with a play action pass or a quarterback run. I am fine with them not thinking about me.”
Ortiz first cracked the starting lineup for the Reggies as a sophomore, but did so as a gritty, 170-pound fullback blocking for prolific halfback Joey Pizzuto.
“I loved playing fullback,” he said. “I loved hitting and I loved blocking. So the next year, when coach told me I would be moving to quarterback I was nervous because I’m not a quarterback.”