Warrior Varsity Gets It Together Too Late, Lose 30-26

November 9th, 2014 by wwcpresident

Winchester, MA –

Please return to the website Tuesday for the Junior Varsity Game report.  The JVs at Woburn Monday afternoon. 

Warrior Varsity Gets It Together Too Late, Lose 30-26. 

“If we had only played bad (sic) in the first half, we probably would have won.  Instead we were horrible.”

A telling, though speculative, comment, heard in the Wakefield locker room after the game Saturday afternoon against Winchester.  Indeed, the Warriors played their worst football of the season over the first twenty-two minutes, giving up 30 unanswered points, before righting the ship.  But the Winchester Sachems, behind senior quarterback Michael Grassey, played the superior game and beat the Wakefield Warriors 30-26 at the McCall Middle School Field.


First Quarter

Winchester received the ball to start the game and their first two plays were an omen of things to come in the first half.  On the first play of the game, running back Tim O’Brien found the second level with little resistance and gained 15 yards.  On the second play, QB Grassey found wide receiver Pat Gill wide open deep downfield for a 24 yard completion through the air.  Both the front and back of the Warrior defense did not execute well over the course of the entire first half.

Two plays into the game and the Sachems had first-and-goal at the 9 yard line.  Two successive Winchester run plays were well defensed, however, with tackles made by senior lineman Joe DiFazio and Jake Cataldo respectively.  Then on third down junior defensive back Ned Buckley occupied the Sachem receiver as Grassey’s pass missed its target.  Winchester settled for a 25 yard field goal and a 3-0 lead just over two minutes into the game.

On its first series, Wakefield was able to move the ball from its own 38 yard line to the Winchester 32 mostly on the strength of two big plays.  The first was an 11 yard run by senior fullback Jack Brown who bounced off the pile at the line of scrimmage and found an opening.  The second was a well-run slant pattern, the ball delivered by senior quarterback Anthony Cecere just past the reach of the defender to tight end Dylan Brady for 19 yards.  But the drive stalled on an unsuccessful jet sweep, a drop, and two other incomplete passes.

Winchester took over on downs at the Sachem 32 and on the first play of the series running back Tim O’Brien quickly got past the defensive front seven and outran the Wakefield secondary for a 68 yard touchdown.  The PAT kick failed but Winchester was up 9-0.

The Warriors started their next drive inside their own 20 yard line and a short run and another drop put the Wakefield in third-and-long.  Quarterback Cecere then found some open real estate when forced to scramble and gained 18 yards.  But Wakefield could not advance the ball further and was forced to punt.  Unfortunately, the ball took a favorable Winchester bounce and the Sachems set up first-and-ten on the Wakefield 37 yard line.

Winchester sandwiched an 8 yard pass gain in between an incompletion and a two yard run loss defensed by junior Mike Moran and the Wakefield defensive front.  But on fourth-and-four, Wakefield suffered another breakdown in the secondary which allowed quarterback Grassey to find a wide open Davis Clarke for a 32 yard touchdown pass.  The PAT kick was good and with 51 seconds to play in the quarter the Warriors were on the short end of a 16-0 score.

Second Quarter

Another good run by Anthony Cecere for 20 yards and a short pass to senior receiver Brian Dickey put the ball at the Warrior 40 to start the quarter but again the offense could not sustain a drive.  However strong punt coverage by Tighe Beck and Mike Moran pinned Winchester on their own 20 yard line.  But four plays later the Sachems were in the Warrior red zone, having gashed the Wakefield defense for 62 yards.  The Warriors surrendered runs of 18, 1, and 14 yards (this last run would have gone for more except for a downfield tackle by lineman Alex Kane) and a 29 yard pass play to Stephen Fitzpatrick.

From there, despite a well-defended pass by Dickey on one play, Winchester was able to advance the ball to the 2 yard line.  Then Winchester rolled everyone right, flooding the zone with receivers and QB Grassey found Davis Clarke sandwiched in between 2 other Sachems for his second touchdown reception of the game.  The PAT kick was good, Winchester had a 23-0 lead, and Wakefield, players, coaches, and fans were shell shocked.

On its next drive Wakefield picked up one first down, on an interference call on a pass intended for Tighe Beck, before surrendering the ball.  To this point in the game Wakefield had not gained more than two first downs on any of its drives and had not made it inside the Winchester 30 yard line.

Winchester scored its fourth touchdown of the first half on the next series.  The Sachems converted two runs into a first down and then two passes into another first down, setting themselves up with a first-and-ten at the Winchester 45 yard line.  Then Grassey hit Clarke for 22 yards before connecting on the next play with Fitzpatrick for 33 yards and a score.  The PAT kick was good and with last than 2 minutes to go in the half Winchester had built a 30-0 lead.  However the Sachems would not score again.

Wakefield began its comeback on their last series of the first half and sophomore Carmen Sorrentino got it going with a sneaky 22 yard kick return to the Wakefield 40 yard line.  Dylan Brady then gained 19 yards on a catch-and-run followed by an 8 yard scamper by Cecere.  Then a nice snag by Jack Brown coming out of the backfield on third-and-two advanced the ball to the Winchester 19 yard line.  Anthony Cecere, supported by his offensive line, kept looking and looking downfield for a receiver until Brian Dickey came wide open in the end zone catching Cecere’s pass for the Warrior’s first score.  Joe DiFazio converted the PAT rush after a Winchester penalty and a surprising and disappointing half closed on an upbeat note.

Third Quarter

Wakefield received the second half kickoff and started to make things interesting by putting together a nine play drive that only used 2:16.  The drive started on the Warrior 27 yard line when Tighe Beck ran a sit down pattern along the sideline for 8 yards.  Brian Dickey took a short Anthony Cecere pass and fought for 8 more yards and a first down.  A bad exchange cost the Warriors 7 yards but a screen to Jack Brown netted 19 yards.  A defensive holding penalty on Winchester nestled among three incompletions by Wakefield put the ball at the Winchester 35 yard line.  Cecere then tossed a short middle screen to Chris Calnan who racked up about 30 YAC (yards after catch) in finding the end zone.  Then came a key play come the 4th quarter as the two point conversion failed, keeping the score Winchester 30 Wakefield 14.

Winchester threatened on their next possession but Wakefield held when, on fourth down, defensive back Ned Buckley, tackled the Sachem receiver two yards short of the first down.  Taking over on downs, Wakefield could not muster enough offense to cross midfield.  But at least the Warrior punt pinned the Sachems deep in their own territory, at the Winchester 15.  As the quarter ended, the Sachems had moved the ball back to midfield on the strength of a 15 yard run and a 16 yard pass.

Fourth Quarter

Wakefield was looking at a 16 point deficit entering the final stanza and needed the ball back if they were to threaten a comeback.  On just the second play of the quarter, Brian Dickey answered the bell.  Running step for step with the Sachem receiver Dickey turned back to the ball as it arrived and made the interception at about the Wakefield 25 yard line.  It was textbook defensive back coverage.

On this next drive it was the legs of QB Anthony Cecere that made the difference.  Other than an outstretched “all hands” 5 yard catch by Calnan along the Wakefield sideline, the entire drive relied on Cecere’s running ability.  Starting the Warrior 23 yard line, the senior made runs of 2, 10 and 22 yards before the teams traded five yard penalties.  Cecere then brought the Warrior offense to the line of scrimmage at the Winchester 38 and dropped back to pass.  With no one coming free, Cecere saw a lot of open green space and took off running.  A couple of blocks and a couple of cuts later, Cecere had covered 38 yards and scored the touchdown.  Unfortunately the PAT pass failed and it remained a two score game at 30-20 Winchester with 8:45 to play.

The onside squib kick was unsuccessful as Winchester covered the ball at their own 47 yard line.  The Sachems stayed on the ground to drain the clock and ran six straight running plays to advance the ball to the Wakefiekld 23 yard line.  But an incomplete pass and a great fourth down stop by Jamison Kenney, who stayed home and foiled an end around, gave the ball back to the Warriors with just over 5 minutes to play.

What came next was classic good news, bad news.  The Warriors then put together a sixteen play drive but it ate up four minutes.  The possession started slowly with an incomplete pass and a sack/run for no gain.  But then Dylan Brady caught passes of 9 and 11 yards.  The latter catch was a gutsy call coming on a fourth-and-one from the Wakefield 33 yard line.  Wakefield faced fourth-and-eleven on its next set of plays before a combination of a 30 yard pass completion to Brady and a downfield illegal block penalty after the catch against Wakefield resulted in a net gain of 8 yards to the Winchester 45 yard line and more importantly a first down.

Cecere went for the home run in the end zone to Dickey on the very next play but a fine defensive play by Tim O’Brien broke up the pass.  Two runs by Cecere (total of 30 yards) and a short dump off to Calnan (2 yards) in between a series of incomplete passes put the ball fourth-and-nine at the Sachem 13 yard line.  Cecere then launched a pass to the end zone where Tighe Beck, using his hands smartly to create separation, scored Wakefield’s third touchdown of the half and fourth of the game.  The PAT kick was blocked and Wakefield was down 30-26 with 1:09 to play.

Everyone in the house knew what was coming next – an onside kick.  The Warriors just missed recovering the ball before it was ruled out of bounds and Winchester took three knees to run out the clock.

Notes: This was a team loss as neither the offense or defense distinguished themselves in the first half…  But overall there were at least three highlights among the many lowlights…Anthony Cecere showed a lot of leg gaining over 150 yards (gross) scrambling and running…Dylan Brady had several big catches and 58 (gross) receiving yards…Brian Dickey had 47 gross receiving yards including one juggling catch in traffic as well as a couple of strong defensive plays….in the first half, Cecere was under steady pressure throwing the ball but Wakefield receivers uncharacteristically had at least three drops as well….The inability to convert three PAT conversion attempts ultimately proved the difference…it was getting dark by game’s end given the 2pm start (SATs were Saturday morning) and the passing attacks of both teams…Melrose advanced in the MIAA playoffs with a thrilling 20-19 win over Woburn.  Revenge is best served cold.

Varsity vs Winchester Game Photos are available here >>>




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