LEO YARDUMIAN sheds multiple tackles on his way to his first of three touchdowns. The senior captain had two 7-yard rushing scores and an 18-yard pick six. (Brian Cusack Photo)
Warrior football starts season with statement win over Greater Lawrence
By DAN PAWLOWSKI
ANDOVER — The Wakefield High football team figured game one was the best opportunity to make a statement.
The Warriors weren’t on anybody’s radar at 6 p.m. on Friday night. They went 1-4 during the Fall 2 season in which they accounted for only three touchdowns. They hadn’t won a season opener in seven years. Check anybody’s preseason Division 3 rankings; they were nowhere to be found.
By 8:30 p.m. on Friday night, the Warriors were a blinking presence on that same radar, far from a blip as they accounted for five offensive touchdowns and two defensive touchdowns on their way to a dominant 50-0 road victory over Greater Lawrence Tech, a team who beat Wakefield 16-14 to start the 2019 campaign.
“Overall, we executed well,” said head coach John Rafferty. “It’s high school football so nothing’s perfect. We made some mistakes and obviously still have a lot to work on.”
Senior captain Leo Yardumian found the end zone three times. His 7-yard TD run extended the Warrior lead to 14-0 in the first quarter. He had another 7-yard run in the 3rd to make it 29-0 and later had an 18-yard pick six for a 43-0 lead. That came right after senior Jack Berinato returned a tipped pass 32 yards for a TD. All of it was part of Wakefield’s impressive 29-0 third quarter in which they put the game out of reach.
“Yardumian had a heck of a game,” said Rafferty. “Two on offense, then that pick six. They tried a bubble screen and he beat the block from his outside linebacker position and jumped it.”
The Warrior defense shut down the Reggies from start to finish, thanks in large part to a line who caused plenty of havoc including seniors, captain Chris Amyouny, Luke Ickes and Nathan Ickes along with junior Ian Dixon. That led to strong tackling from Yardumian and captain Bryan Lynch at the linebacker level and good ball hawking from Berinato and the rest of secondary including Christian Delgado who had an interception in the end zone to take away the home team’s best chance at finding the end zone.
The Warrior offense meanwhile, wasted no time in getting that first TD out of the way, which fittingly went to the guy who has the keys to the car in junior QB Javin Willis who dove in for a 1-yard score for the first points of the season.
Coach Rafferty stresses execution in all three phases. The third phase, special teams, can sometimes get lost in the shuffle. That won’t be the case this year as the Warriors have a new place kicker for the first time since the 2016 season as four-year starter and former captain Danny Hurley is now kicking at Stonehill.
Sophomore Mark Letchford stepped right in on Friday night, donning Hurley’s old number 44 and going a perfect 6-for-6 on extra points.
The halftime score of 14-0 was a great start but it was far from dominant, especially as Greater Lawrence had started to find a rhythm on offense and at least move the ball.
Nathan Delgado’s 19-yard TD run made it 21-0 early in the third.
Willis and the offense continued to move the rock, not only on the ground but through the air as Dixon and Lynch both had strong receiving games.
Yardumian’s second TD run came on a similar wishbone formation as his first in which the O line pulled left and paved a perfect path to pay dirt. That preceded Wakefield’s only two-point attempt of the game. Willis connected with junior Bobby DeFeo for a successful attempt and a 29-0 lead.
DeFeo would be heard from again in the fourth quarter, taking an option handoff toward the right sideline before a sharp one-cut up the middle of the field for a 38-yard touchdown.
Of course, that was after Wakefield’s defense got in on the third-quarter scoring.
Berinato’s touchdown happened when he broke on a screen attempt in which a Reggie receiver had a pass bounce off his hands and go straight up in the air. Berinato ran right onto it and was in the end zone in a flash.
Yardumian’s jumped pick six certainly made his linebacker’s coach happy – as Rafferty said, it was perfectly timed.
Those two defensive scores are what certainly led to the lopsided final. After the Warriors went up 29-0, it was clear they wanted the offense to stay on the ground and keep the clock moving. Instead, the defense turned this game into a rout and Letchford’s kick after DeFeo’s TD made it the most points Wakefield had scored in a game in nearly two decades.
“(The coaching staff) doesn’t take pleasure in scoring 50 points on someone. We don’t harp on points but the players were elated and it was great to see them that way. That being the case, we have to keep our feet on the ground. This isn’t indicative of how the rest of the season will go.”
How the rest of the season will go, the coach said, is up to how the Warriors choose to build off of game one.
Wakefield can really get the Middlesex League’s attention if they beat this week’s opponent, a league large foe and state Div. 2 member, Belmont. “They’re a good football team,” said Rafferty. “We can’t rely on the success we had in game one, we have to execute better on both sides of the ball (to beat Belmont).”
The Marauders defeated Cambridge Rindge and Latin 20-7 on Friday in the first game for new head coach Brian McCray.
Kick-off for Belmont vs. Wakefield is at 7 p.m. this Friday night at Landrigan Field.