The following was written by Jim Southmayd and appeared in the Wakefield Daily Item.
Wakefield, MA – Although taking things away from someone else may not be right morally and even illegal sometimes, the same can’t be said for taking the ball away on the football field. The Wakefield High football team had seven takeaways and had a terrific defensive effort as it blanked Wilmington by a 22-0 score in its Middlesex League Freedom division opener on Friday night at Landrigan Field.
The Warriors are now 6-0 overall on the season and 1-0 in the division. Wakefield also posted its second straight shutout. Including the Belmont game three weeks ago, Wakefield hasn’t surrendered a point in 11 quarters. Wakefield yielded 199 total yards on defense (100 rushing, 99 passing) to the Wildcats (2-4 overall, 0-1 in the division). But the Warriors had seven takeaways with four fumble recoveries and three interceptions.
Leading the way defensively were seniors Luke Ingersoll and Conor Coogan. Ingersoll had two of the four fumble recoveries and returned one of them 74 yards for a touchdown. Coogan, meanwhile, had three picks, all of which came in the end zone for touchbacks to help keep Wilmington off the scoreboard. Ingersoll, a linebacker, had three tackles, and Coogan, a defensive back, had two in addition to their takeaways. Also recovering fumbles for the Warriors were senior DB Ed Wade and junior DL Zack Levine. Levine also led the team in tackles with nine.
Offensively, the Warriors used several big pass plays to score their other two TDs. Junior QB Mike Miller completed six of 15 passes for 161 yards and two touchdowns. He was also intercepted once. Catching the two TD passes for the Warriors were sophomore WR Bruce Brown and senior WR Devin O’Donnell. Brown’s TD reception was for 74 yards and O’Donnell’s was for 24 yards. “We’ll take it,” said Head Coach Mike Boyages. “We had a great effort defensively and were able to cause the turnovers. Luke Ingersoll had a nice game. That was a great play he made on the (74 yard) fumble return. Conor Coogan had three interceptions in the end zone. I don’t know why but they seemed to be picking on him. Also, Mike Miller made some nice passes and Bruce Brown had a couple of big catches. Overall, we’re pretty happy.”
Wilmington picked up one first down on its first series but eventually punted the ball away from its own 48.
Wakefield began its initial drive at its own 23 and needed five plays to get into the end zone. Sophomore TB Luke Martin (42 yards on 11 carries) had runs of 3, 10 and minus 4 yards on a fumble which he recovered. Wade had a four yard reception but a holding penalty pushed the ball back to the Warrior 26. On a second down and 20 play, Miller found Brown down the left sideline. Brown beat his defender, caught the ball and was gone as the Wildcats were in man coverage on the sophomore wide receiver. The extra point kick was blocked but Wakefield led 6-0 with 4:25 left in the opening quarter.
The Warriors went for an onside kick on the ensuing kickoff and Wade recovered the loose ball after it had traveled 10 yards as Wakefield took over at the Wildcat 47. Wakefield got into the red zone with the key play being a 40 yard reception by Brown which set up a first and goal play from the Wilmington 7. A holding penalty on first down pushed the Warriors back 10 yards. From there, senior RB Tyler MacDonald gained a yard and Miller threw a pair of incompletions. On fourth down, Miller was sacked by Kevin Dunfey as Wilmington took over on downs.
Wilmington moved the ball deep into Wakefield territory to end the first quarter and begin the second quarter. The key play was a 33 yard pass by James O’Regan (who completed seven of 13 passes for 99 yards and two interceptions) to senior WR Blake Walker (three receptions for 46 yards). The Wildcats got as far as the Warrior 28 before junior RB Eli Jennings took the handoff on a third down and two play. Jennings had the ball taken away by Ingersoll who returned the fumble 74 yards for a Wakefield TD. O’Donnell caught the two-point conversion pass from Miller to put Wakefield up 14-0 with 9:08 left in the second quarter. Senior lineman Mike Amentola sacked Wilmington backup QB Pat Barry for a 10 yard loss which eventually led to an 18 yard punt by Barry as Wakefield took over at the Wilmington 39.
The Warriors needed just two plays to get into the end zone. Miller gained 15 yards on the first play, then found O’Donnell with a 24 yard strike in the end zone. Wakefield faked the PAT attempt and Brown ran the ball into the end zone for the two points to give Wakefield a 22-0 advantage with 5:54 remaining in the second quarter. Levine recovered a fumble on Wilmington’s next possession but the Warriors couldn’t convert on the turnover. Wilmington then had a nice drive to end the first half.
The Wildcats started at their own 20 and picked up three first downs as they moved the ball down the field. The key plays were an eight yard catch by senior TE Brian Priem, a 30 yard reception by Priem and a six yard run by O’Regan which netted a first down. Wilmington got as far as the Wakefield 17 before Coogan intercepted a pass in the end zone to end the scoring threat.
Wakefield got the ball to start the third quarter and sustained a 10-play drive. The Warriors started at their own 47 after a 28 yard kickoff return by Brown. The Warriors were able to run the ball to move the ball downfield. Miller gained four yards on a third down play and O’Donnell had a 14 yard reception which also netted a first down. On first down at the Wilmington 26, Miller was sacked by senior DE Brendan Ahern for a three yard loss. Three incompletions later, Wakefield turned the ball over on downs.
The Warriors got the ball right back as Jomikeson Beray fumbled the ball on the first Wilmington play from scrimmage in the second half. Ingersoll recovered his second fumble of the night which gave Wakefield the ball. Miller gained no yards on first down and then fired two incompletions. On fourth down, Walker intercepted Miller’s pass at the 5 yard line and had an 11-yard return out to the Wilmington 16.
Wilmington picked up one first down before punting the ball away. Coogan fumbled the punt with Ahern recovering the loose ball to give Wilmington a first down at the Warrior 18. The Wildcats were unable to capitalize on the turnover, however, as Barry’s pass to the end zone was intercepted by Coogan on the final play of the third quarter. Wakefield picked up two first downs and moved the ball into Wilmington territory with Martin, backup QB Josh Orlowitz, a senior, and Derek Dussault, a junior RB, handling the football. On third down and seven from the Wildcat 47, Orlowitz was sacked and fumbled the football with Ahern making the recovery at the Wakefield 39.
Senior WR Sam Borsetti had an eight yard reception and senior FB Justin MacKinnon (44 yards on 12 carries) ripped off a 13 yard gain. The Wilmington drive ended with Coogan intercepting his third pass of the night in the end zone. That helped preserve the shutout and Wakefield came away with the 22-0 victory.