Warrior Varsity Wins a Close One; Warrior JV Drops a Close One

November 17th, 2014 by wwcpresident

Wakefield, MA –  The varsity game came down to the last minute of play Friday night with the Wakefield Warriors preserving their 14-13 win over the Burlington Red Devils on the strength of senior lineman Brian Conroy’s pass rush that denied a potential game-winning two point conversion by the bad guys.  Meanwhile, “my kingdom for a placekicker” as the Junior Varsity on Saturday dropped a 21-18 decision to the Reading Rockets as the Warriors, forced to go for two each time for want of a kicker, failed on all three two-point conversion tries which proved to be the difference.

VARSITY

First Quarter

Burlington took the opening kick-off and put together an impressive 13 play drive that ate up 8 ½ minutes on the clock as they moved the ball from the Burlington 18 yard line to the Wakefield 22 yard line.  But the 14th play on this 60+ yard drive was their undoing as junior linebacker Zach Kane recovered a fumble leaving the Red Devils empty-handed.  On the drive Burlington relied mostly on the run and mostly on junior running back Chenet Guerrier to move the ball downfield.   To start, a sweep left gained 13 yards and a sweep right another 4 yards before senior lineman Eric Schilling held the line for no gain.  But Burlington gained a first down by getting to the outside again, with Guerrier picking up 11 yards before a Burlington penalty and run stops by defensive backs Ned Buckley and Tighe Beck on consecutive plays put the Red Devils in a third-and-ten near midfield.  However, sophomore receiver Mike DiMartinis found a hole in the Wakefield zone for a 12 yard reception and the drive stayed alive.

Burlington continued to move downfield making positive yardage each time they touched the ball until junior lineman Logan Dunn blew through the Burlington offensive line to drop Guerrier for a 2 yard loss back to the 22 yard line.  On the next play Burlington ran student body middle and met a wall of resistance.  The ball popped loose and Zach Kane emerged from the pile with the ball.

After the change of possession, Wakefield immediately went for the big play and almost connected.  Junior receiver Tighe Beck ran a sideline go pattern and easily beat the coverage, before getting mugged by two unknown assailants as he attempted to haul in senior quarterback Anthony Cecere’s aerial.  The pass interference call put the ball at the Wakefield 38 on what otherwise might have been a catch and run touchdown play.  But the Warriors could do little more and punted the ball back to Burlington as the first quarter came to a close.

Second Quarter

Burlington took possession at their own 26 yard line and returned to the run which had proven successful on their first drive. After gaining 4 yards on two plays up the middle and 5 yards on another run wide right, Burlington faced fourth-and-one at their 35 yard line.  This is where Burlington coaching staff made a bold, if not curious, decision to go for it deep in their own territory.  Quarterback Dylan Bonfilio called his own number but the middle of the Warrior defensive front, including juniors Nick Nice and Logan Ryan, gave no ground and Burlington lost the ball on downs.

With the Warriors in excellent field position to start its drive, sitting at the Burlington 35 yard line, Wakefield went to work.  Again Cecere and Beck went for the home run ball on the first play but it fell incomplete.   But a jet sweep by senior receiver Chris Calnan gained 6 yards and a slant pass to senior tight end Dylan Brady off a fake jet sweep gained 10 yards.  A Warrior penalty and a short run gain put the ball at the Burlington 22 yard line with second-and-long coming up.

Here Cecere dropped back to pass but faced a strong rush with no receivers coming open.  Doing his best “RG3 circa 2012” impersonation, young Anthony scrambled around in the backfield before taking off.  Running and juking as he crossed the field from the Wakefield sideline to the Burlington sideline, he made something out of nothing scoring the first touchdown of the game.  The PAT kick by senior Chris Saponaro was good and Wakefield led 7-0 at the 7:23 mark of the second quarter.

Burlington went back to their first possession playbook here as they put together yet another long drive (12 plays, almost 5:30 minutes, and over 50 yards).  But it too ultimately came up empty.  After Guerrier rumbled 19 yards to move the ball over midfield, senior lineman Jake Cataldo sniffed out the jet sweep and forced a 5 yard loss.  After an incomplete pass brought up third-and fifteen, quarterback Bonofilio kept cool under duress and had the presence of mind to pull up and find a receiver coming open for a 15 yard completion that gave the Red Devils a first down by the nose of the ball.  Mixing short runs and passes, including a fourth down conversion, Burlington advanced to the Wakefield 19 yard line.  Here, a penalty on fourth-and-two pushed the ball back 5 yards and Bonfilio’s subsequent pass went incomplete ending the drive.

Wakefield took over on their own 25 with 1:54 to play and got right to work.  A screen pass to Zach Kane netted 20 yards, a scramble by Cecere gained 5 more, and then a 14 yard designed QB draw got the ball to the Red Devil 37.  With just over a minute left in the half senior receiver Brian Dickey hauled in a 17 yard completion and the Warriors were in the red zone, with four downs to work with.  Well it only took two as Cecere found senior Chris Calnan with a pass that might have scraped the moon before it came down.  Calnan outmaneuvered double coverage in the end zone to notch Wakefield’s second touchdown.  Saponaro’s kick was good and Wakefield had doubled its lead to 14-0.  The half ended with junior Tighe Beck intercepting a Hail Mary in the end zone, launched from 40+ yards away.

 

Third Quarter

Wakefield’s first possession of the half ended with an interception just three plays in setting up Burlington’s first score.  The Red Devils started up at their own 41 yard line but three routine plays and consecutive penalties against Wakefield (facemask and offside) advanced the ball to the Wakefield 34.   Shane O’Halloran then slithered out of a tackle to gain 13 yards.  Defensive end Dylan Brady came up with tackles on consecutive plays and a pass incompletion left Burlington looking at yet another fourth down conversion try at the 11 yard line.  This time though Burlington executed flawlessly.  With quarterback Bonfilio drifting right looking to pass, he suddenly looked back to his left and found Guerrier wide open on a well-executed bubble screen.  With two blockers, and no red jerseys, ahead of him, Guerrier easily pranced into the end zone, the PAT kick was good, and the Warrior lead was cut in half at 14-7.

Neither squad did much the next time each touched the ball.  It remained a one score game entering the final stanza.

Fourth Quarter

The Warriors first drive of the quarter ended in an interception that served as a punt.  Cecere looked downfield on third-and-fifteen at the Burlington 38 but came up empty, turning the ball over at the Red Devil 14 yard line.  Though unsuccessful, the drive took four minutes off the clock.  Burlington then used a couple of double digit gains (a run for 13 yards and a pass play to DiMartinis for 26 yards) to advance the ball to the Wakefield 40.  But the Warrior defense held and after a long ball fell incomplete on fourth down, Wakefield got the ball back with 3:15 to play, still protecting that one touchdown lead.

An initial Warrior gain of 12 yards was wiped out by a penalty but Cecere and Z. Kane kept the ball on the ground and the clock moving.  Facing fourth-and-one at their own 49 with 2:20 to play, Wakefield went for it but fumbled the ball away on a play that was out of synch from the outset.  Burlington took over just inside midfield and it was nail-biting time (through the winter gloves).

Red Devil receiver George Balian immediately snagged a 16 yard pass to move the ball to the Warrior 32 yard line.  Four plays later, on yet another fourth down conversion try, Balian again came up big finding a hole in the Warrior zone for another 15 yards.   With first-and-ten at the Wakefield 15 and 1:27 left, Burlington called a run but got trapped in their own backfield for a loss of 5 yards.  Next Brian Conroy gave a preview of what was to come when he shut down a passing attempt for a sack/no gain.  Then on third-and fifteen Bonfilio threw a tight spiral to Shane O’Halloran who caught it in stride down the seam for a 20 yard touchdown catch.  Wakefield 14, Burlington 13 with the point after still to come.

The clock read 22.7 seconds remaining and Burlington had the choice to kick for a tie and likely overtime or go for the win and they chose the latter.  Both teams called timeouts to assess the situation as the night air grew just that much colder (except for in the press box where it was very toasty).  A competitive game hung in the balance.   Rather than run outside with Chenet Guerrier, a play that had met with consistent success throughout the game, Burlington pitched the ball to fullback O’Halloran who looked to be setting up for the halfback option pass.  But Warrior Brian Conroy broke through and was on top of O’Halloran before he could decide run or pass.  Firmly in Conroy’s grasp, the Red Devil threw up a desperation heave that fluttered to the ground incomplete.

Brian Dickey was credited with recovering the inevitable onside kick that followed, Cecere took a knee and Wakefield had won this hard fought battle.     

Notes:  Junior Tighe Beck had his personal best defensive game of the year as he “played within his position and focused on his job”  Unofficially he approached double digits in tackles to go along with that first half interception and did not shy away from contact, something we have seen all year…. Good to see junior Zach Kane return to action after missing two games due to injury….on the other hand, it was confirmed that senior co-captain Luke Martin faces surgery as a result of an injury suffered in the (second) Melrose game, forcing a premature end to what has been a brilliant senior year performance…as a result of Martin’s loss, next man up was junior Ned Buckley who saw extensive action in the first half when Wakefield played primarily nickel defense….Anthony Cecere had a good night kicking, with one punt downed at the 12 yard line (though wiped out by a penalty) and another downed on the one yard line….This was one of those games that felt like a team win in many ways.  Several skill players contributed key play(s) (including Beck, Brady, Calnan, Cecere, Dickey, and Z. Kane) but no one play or player seemed more important than another….And the defense, while giving up plays, yardage, and clock, got the big stop more often than not when they needed to….The phrase of the night for all coaches in the stands was “wrap up”.  Three times Red Devils slithered out of danger when they appeared headed for a negative play due to less than perfect tackling….Note to the Wakefield sidelines from the Wakefield stands – as the temperature edges towards the mid 30s, new rule: you only get to call those consecutive timeouts if you agree to buy the hot chocolate…

Varsity vs Burlington Game Photos are available here >>>

JUNIOR VARSITY

While the point after touchdown efficiency was the obvious difference in a game in which both teams scored three touchdowns (Reading was three-for-three on kicks while Wakefield was zero-for-three on pass conversion tries), a more subtle difference was the fourth Wakefield touchdown called back on a block in the back penalty.  Otherwise it was a well-contested game where the Rockets superior size advantage offset Warrior skill position play.

 

First Quarter

 Wakefield won the toss, deferring to the second half, and elected to start the game with some trickery executing an onside kick.  The ploy almost succeeded as the Warriors just missed recovering.  But the result left Reading in good field position, on their own 44 yard line, to start the game.  And the Rockets made Wakefield pay.

 

While a motion penalty put Reading in a hole on first down, quarterback Tim Kelly took care of that, and more, on second down spinning off a tackle and running down the visitors sideline for a 25 yard gain.  The Rockets kept the ball on the ground for the rest of the drive and, except for play here or there, were able to make positive yards.  The capper was an 11 yard touchdown run with a PAT kick and Reading had drawn first blood, going up 7-0.

 

Wakefield’s first drive had its ups and downs while consuming eleven plays.  Starting at their 27 yard line, junior quarterback Ned Buckley just missed on a screen pass to sophomore Alex McKenna that might have had potentialBut junior Kevin Russo then took a jet sweep for eight yards to put the Warriors in third-and-short.  Buckley gained little on a third down keeper up the middle.  But on fourth and inches, Buckley ran outside behind some good run blocking gaining 6 yards and the first down.  A bubble screen to Mike Moran went for 10 yards and a first down (by measurement) on another play that featured determined running and good blocking.  Two more runs by Buckley, one by design and one of desperation, yielded 10 more yards and Wakefield was looking at first-and-ten at the Reading 38 yard line.

 

Second Quarter

The drive stalled however as the first quarter turned to the second.  The Reading pass rush got to Buckley three straight times, first flushing him out of the pocket for a 1 yard gain, then sacking him for a 7 yard loss, before finally tipping his pass as the pocket collapsed.  Pat Leary then did his part by dropping a punt at the Reading 15 with no return.  But on Reading’s first play from scrimmage quarterback Kelly ran a delayed quarterback draw up the middle and was gone in the blink of eye for an 85 yard touchdown run.  The PAT kick was good and Reading had scored on its first two possessions to take a 14-0 lead.

 

Wakefield sensed it needed a score to right the ship before it might sink and that is exactly what they did on their next possession.  It was a drive of three big plays and one break.  First, Kevin Russo, displaying his trademark straight ahead speed, busted a quick hitter for 43 yards from the Wakefield 21 to the Reading 36.  An interception by Reading (with a touchdown saving tackle by Russo) was nullified by a roughing the passer penalty against the Rockets.  Instead of Reading’s ball inside the Wakefield 5 yard line, Wakefield retained possession advancing to the Reading 26 on the penalty.  After a mishandled handoff cost the Warriors 5 yards, sophomore running back Will Shea took a screen pass and dipsy-doodled for 21 yards.  Three plays later Buckley rifled a bullet to sophomore receiver Carmen Sorrentino on a slant pattern and the Warriors were back in the game.  The PAT pass was no good as the Rocket pass rush blew up the play.

 

Reading, however, was unfazed as it scored its third consecutive touchdown on its third and final possession of the half.  The big play was a 30 yard pass completion down to the Wakefield 12 yard line when coverage assignments in the Warrior defensive backfield got confused.  Four runs later Reading was in the end zone and had restored their two touchdown lead at 21-6.

 

With only seconds left in the half, Kevin Russo took the ensuing kick-off 35 yards to the Reading 40 yard line but a long ball from Buckley to McKenna was well defended as the quarter came to an end.

 

Third Quarter

Wakefield took the opening kick-off of the second half and put together an entertaining if unsuccessful drive.  It featured a great catch by Alex McKenna for 17 yards as Ned Buckley got off the pass just as he was being hit by a Reading lineman.  Buckley and McKenna hooked up again two plays later on a pitch and catch play that covered 24 more yards.  Offensive lineman Evan Gourville then kept the drive alive by recovering a fumble after Buckley was strip sacked.  On the next play, sitting at the Reading 31 yard line facing second-and-15, Buckley dropped back to pass and was immediately flushed out of the pocket.  The junior took off downfield, and using speed and shiftiness to elude and shake would-be tacklers, found the end zone for an apparent score.  But Wakefield was called for a block in the back which brought the ball back to the 22 yard line.  There the drive stalled as the Rocket defensive line disrupted three consecutive plays.

 

Fourth Quarter

Reading’s next drive, which spanned the end of the third and beginning of the fourth quarter, stalled after a penalty negated a big run by Kelly.  Wakefield took over at its own 44 yard line looking for two scores with less than under 9 minutes to play.  A screen pass failed when the intended receiver stumbled getting out into position and then a well-defended Alex McKenna just missed making a fine catch in traffic 20 yards downfield when the ground dislodged the ball as he tumbled to the turf.  Buckley then scrambled for 9 yards before junior running back Alex Jancsy got good push from his offensive line and was able to pick up an all-important first down to keep the drive alive. A Red Devil offside for 5 yards, a McKenna reception for 13, and a Buckley scramble for 12 yards off an initial pass attempt put Wakefield first-and-ten at the Burlington 14 yard line.

 

On the next play Buckley got planted on the turf one last time as he attempted a pass to Alex Fils-Aime in the end zone.  After lying prone for a couple of minutes he was able to walk off on his own power but did not see the field again the rest of the day.  (According to Sue the trainer, young Buckley suffered temporary injury to both his neck and hair.)  That brought sophomore quarterback Kobey Nadeau off the bench and into the game cold…literally.  But he warmed up fast.

 

On his third play from scrimmage, he threw a 22 yard strike to Mike Moran, who ran a perfect slant walling off the defender, as he scored Wakefield’s second touchdown.  The PAT pass was no good as the receiver was ruled out-of-bounds on the catch and the score stood Reading 21 Wakefield 12.

 

Wakefield then executed a successful onside kick with Alex McKenna recovering the ball at the Reading 47 yard line.  Nadeau then completed five passes in a row, to McKenna (11 yards), Shea (7 yards), Moran (14 yards), McKenna again (5 yards), and Shea again (4 yards).  A Nadeau keeper moved the ball from the 2 yard line to the half foot line where Will Shea converted the score with under 30 seconds to play.  The PAT pass failed and Wakefield trailed 21-18.  And that is how it ended as Reading covered the kickoff and took a knee in the victory formation before the final whistle.

 

Notes:  Sophomore PJ Iannuzzi had a strong game from his linebacker position making or assisting on several tackles…another linebacker, junior Evan Gourville, also played wellHe helped stop Reading’s first drive of the second half by reading a screen pass and dropping the Rocket receiver for a 7 yard loss…Kevin Russo and Alex McKenna deserve a shout out as well for their offensive play but each also made a fine defensive play as well….Ned Buckley knows how Cam Newton felt the other week as Reading had a strong pass rush all game…Reading did have a significant size advantage on both sides of the line this day but the Wakefield kids kept plugging as evidenced by that last successful touchdown drive where the pass protection gave Nadeau time… even though the team played from behind the whole game, one never got the sense Wakefield was out of it until that last kick was covered…Freshman and JV parents should be looking around their neighborhoods for young kids with soccer balls who might be interested in kicking footballs in high school.  Free pizza and lots of opportunity all fall long.

JV vs Reading Game Photos are available here >>>

 

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