Winchester, MA- Wakefield High School Football has never played well on Saturdays over the years, especially in Winchester. Yesterday was no different as the Warrior grid men needed a 4th Qtr. comeback led by Jr. QB Mike Miller to upend the Winchester Sachems 21-14.
Winchester took the opening kickoff and moved the ball fairly well against the Wakefield defense, which at times looked confused. After starting at their own 30 yard line, Winchester was able to move the ball to the Wakefield 45 yard line before the Warriors stopped them on 4th and 4.
Wakefield was unable to get anything going on offense and was forced to punt back to the Sachems. The Sachems struggled as well and punted back to the Warriors where they took over on their on 48 yard line with 4:17 left in the 1st Qtr.
Moments later, Miller found a streaking Conor Coogan down the Warrior sideline. Coogan and the Winchester defender appeared to come down with the ball together, but the officials ruled in favor of the Warriors and they now found themselves on the Sachem 10 yard line. One play later, Miller found So. Bruce Brown with a 10 yard slant across the middle for the afternoon’s first score. Brian Auld’s extra point sailed right and the Warriors were ahead, 6-0 with 1:38 left in the 1st.
Winchester took the kickoff and marched down the field with a good combination of the run and pass. Again, the Warrior defense looked confused by the Sachem’s sets. Winchester QB Tim Mangano found WR Stefan Zandbergs with a 2 yard flare in the flat for the score. Alec Davis added the PAT and Winchester seemed to have the momentum with the 7-6 lead with 8:13 left in the half.
Wakefield fumbled on their next possession and the Sachems recovered. They drove the ball effectively and Mangano found Joe Ntege on a 12 yard scoring strike in the flat. Davis again added the extra point and the Sachems now led 14-6 with 6:12 left in the half.
Miller’s pass was picked off by the Sachems and luckily the Warrior “D” took a stand and forced the Sachems to a three and out. Wakefield got possession back and Miller found Alec Brown over the middle for a nice pick up, but penalties stalled the drive and Wakefield was forced into a 4th and long with 0:19 seconds left in the half. Miller’s pass fell incomplete and the Sachems took a knee with a 14-6 halftime lead.
Bruce Brown returned the 2nd half kickoff to the Wakefield 44 yard line where the Warriors went to work. Miller found Brown with a pass that brought the ball to the Sachem 25 yard line. The Sachems dug deep and forced a 4th and 3 from the Sachem 18 yard line and stuffed Wakefield for a loss of two on the play.
The rest of the 3rd Qtr. went back and forth with both teams exchanging possessions with not much going right for either team on offense. The Warriors took possession after a Sachem punt sailed into the end zone on a touchback with 0:10 left in the 3rd Qtr. and Miller and the Warrior offense went to work.
Miller’s legs and arm got the Warriors to their own 41 yard line with 9:33 left to play. Shortly after, Miller found Alec Brown over the middle and after a few nifty moves by the Sr. TE, he raced to the end zone on a 42 yard scoring strike. Coach Mike Boyages decided to go for the 2 pt. conversion and Miller found Bruce Brown in the corner of the end zone to make the score 14-14 with 8:08 left to play.
Wakefield decided to go for the onside kick on the ensuing kickoff. The Sachems recovered at mid field, but on the very next play they fumbled and the Warriors recovered with 7:58 left in the game.
Miller found Coogan over the middle and a personal foul call on the Sachems brought the ball all the way down to the Sachem 18 yard line. Miller then scrambled and tried to go airborne to reach the end zone, but fumbled the ball and the Sachems took over on their own 5 yard line with 5:06 left to play.
After looking confused all afternoon, Coach Steve Cumming’s defense finally woke up and forced a quick three and out by the Sachems. It was now the Warrior offense’s turn to make their name as they took over with 5:06 left to play on the Sachem 35 yard line.
Two straight Miller incompletions forced a 3rd and 10 from the 35 yard line. Miller found Sr. Devin O’Donnell for a 20 yard pickup on the 3rd down conversion and the ball was now on the Sachem 15 with 4:28 left in the game.
Miller scrambled down to the Sachem 1 yard line with the Warriors were staring at a 1st and Goal. Coach Boyages took a timeout and the next play saw Miller go up and over the Warrior line for the 1 yard TD score. Brian Auld hit the extra point and the score was now 21-14, Wakefield. There was 4:17 left to play.
Possessions were traded back and forth for the remainder of the game before Wakefield took over on downs with 0:47 left to play. Wakefield took a knee for the final play and with that walked away with the 21-14 victory.
The win improves the Warriors to 3-0 and drops Winchester to 2-1. Wakefield will travel to face Belmont this Friday and Winchester plays host to Stoneham on Saturday.