Published in the July 28, 2015 edition

PEABODY — On Saturday, July 25, members of the 2015 edition of the Wakefield Warrior football team joined 39 other teams from across Massachusetts for the Northeast 7-on-7 Tournament, sponsored by Under Armour.

The Warriors went 3-1, which tied for the best record in their pool but did not advance to the Sweet 16 playoffs based on tiebreakers. With the first official pre-season practice a month away, the games on Saturday provided skill position players a chance to gauge their level of readiness for the 2015 campaign, the first under new head coach Steve Cummings.

7-on-7 football is touch football in which only passing plays are allowed. The defense cannot rush the quarterback but the quarterback is allowed only four seconds to pass. Teams take possession at their opponent’s 40 yard line and are given three downs to make a first down. In 7-on-7, the first down markers are at the 25 yard line and the 10 yard line. There is no kicking the point after touchdown (PAT). Instead a PAT play run from the five yard line counts for one point and a PAT play run from the 10 yard line counts for two points.

At this tournament, games lasted 24 minutes running time with no timeouts.

Wakefield beat Haverhill (24-18), Hamilton-Wenham (21-20) and Dexter (36-13) while losing to Salem (19-13). Three of the four games came down to the last minute and two came down to the last play of the game.

Quarterbacks Ned Buckley and Kobe Nadeau combined for 14 touchdown passes spread among six receivers including Eric Smith (four), Tighe Beck (three), Alex McKenna (three), Alex Jancsy (two), Alex Fils-Aime (one) and Zach Conlon (one).

The defense came up with five interceptions between linebacker Zach Kane (two) and one each by defensive backs Kevin Russo, Matt Smith and Buckley.

The Wakefield Warrior tournament roster included: Tighe Beck, Ned Buckley, Zach Conlon, Alex Fils-Aime, Zach Kane, PJ Iannuzzi, Alex Jancsy, Alex McKenna, Matt Mercurio, Mike Moran, Kobe Nadeau, Kevin Russo, Will Shea, Eric Smith, Matt Smith, Carmen Sorrentino, Henry Stikeman and Ben Yandell.

Wakefield 24, Haverhill 18

The Warriors started slowly in their first game, falling behind to the Hillies 12-0. But the team found its offensive rhythm once quarterback Buckley completed a long ball to Beck for one touchdown and Alex McKenna, on an intermediate route, for another. It then was “game on” with the score tied at 12-12.

On Haverhill’s next possession, Kane intercepted a tipped ball and the Warriors made them pay. Buckley hit Jancsy who stretched out and made a fingertip grab running along the goal line for the go-ahead touchdown. However, the Hillies, who beat Wakefield in last year’s tournament 14-12, got the ball back with less 1:30 to play and tied the game at 18-18 with less than 20 seconds to play.

With the game ending in a tie, the rules called for each team to run one play from the 40 yard line with the winner declared based on the most yards gained on that one play. Haverhill ran a deep sideline pattern which the Warriors defended, resulting in an incomplete pass. However the Wakefield defender was called for pass interference at the 5 yard line. Wakefield now had to complete a pass for longer than 35 yards, leaving only one play in the arsenal.

Warrior quarterback Buckley launched the Hail Mary to the end zone where a triple-covered Beck leaped high to snag the ball, land, make a “football move” and then have the ball jarred loose. One referee signaled incomplete pass, the other touchdown and after conferring, the touchdown stood. The ruling on the field was that Beck caught the ball in the end zone, was touched and the play was over before a defender knocked the ball loose.

It marked the second time in three years that a Wakefield-Haverhill game ended on a note of controversy in this tournament. In 2013, Haverhill led Wakefield as the final seconds ticked off with the Warriors knocking on the door for a winning touchdown. Immediately after the ball was snapped on what proved to be the final play, the air horn sounded signaling the game’s end. Haverhill stopped playing and ran to their sideline to celebrate. However the ball was still live, Wakefield completed the winning touchdown pass to a now uncovered player, and the game, but not the arguing, was then officially over.

Wakefield 21, Hamilton-Wenham 20

Hamilton-Wenham scored on its first possession aided by a pass interference call but Wakefield immediately responded with quarterback Nadeau finding McKenna for the touchdown, with the PAT pass to Russo also good.

Wakefield protected its 7-6 lead on the next possession holding H-W without a first down. But then H-W intercepted Wakefield and returned it for a touchdown, adding a two-point conversion to retake the lead at 14-7.

Quarterback Nadeau was not discouraged, launching a deep pass to a wide open Eric Smith on his next possession. The play covered 40 yards. A PAT catch by Matt Smith tied the score at 14-14.

H-W came right back with a 28 yard TD of its own but its PAT pass was intercepted by Buckley.

On the next possession, Nadeau got the ball to the 28 yard line where on second down he found Eric Smith in the left flat at the 10 yard line. Smith tiptoed down the sideline for the tying score. The Nadeau-Eric Smith combination also worked for the PAT and Wakefield was ahead 21-20.

Kane intercepted a tipped pass on H-W’s next possession and the Warriors had their second win of the day.

Salem 19, Wakefield 13

In this game both defenses played well and several drives on both sides came up empty.

Salem, which ran impressive short patterns all game long, dinked and dunked its way down the field on its opening possession to take a 6-0 (the PAT pass was no good) lead.

Wakefield responded with a three-yard touchdown pass from Buckley to Jancsy.

Salem went back ahead 12-6 with a tough catch on the back line of the end zone against good pass defense.

Wakefield got inside the 10 yard line on its next possession but could not finish, while the Warriors only gave up nine yards on its next defensive stand.

Eric Smith then scored his third touchdown of the day taking in a five-yard pass from Buckley and Beck caught the PAT to give the Warriors a 13-12 lead.

The teams traded possessions (with Russo intercepting a sideline pattern) and then Salem took advantage of a Warrior penalty to gain field position and eventually score the go-ahead touchdown with less than 30 seconds to play.

On the last play of the game, Buckley and Beck hooked up again for a long ball to the end zone for an apparent game-tying touchdown but the Warriors were called for pass interference and time expired.

Wakefield 36, Dexter 13

This was a mismatch with the Warriors scoring on every possession. Quarterbacks Nadeau and Buckley alternated drives in this game with Nadeau throwing touchdown passes to Eric Smith (PAT failed), Alex Fils-Aime (PAT was scored by  Moran) and Zach Conlon (PAT failed) while Buckley had scoring strikes to Beck (PAT scored by Beck) and McKenna (PAT scored by Fils-Aime).

The Warriors continue play Wednesday and Sunday evenings in a 7-on-7 league featuring Andover, Danvers and Peabody. Contact Coach Cummings at for more information.