2-3 Warriors get complete performance from all three phases

The Warrior offense was clicking against Burlington last week. Pictured here, senior co-captain Ryan Fitzpatrick (26) receives a pitch from junior quarterback Mike Lucey (10). Fitzpatrick rushed for 151 yards and two touchdowns while Lucey threw for 104 yards and had two rushing touchdowns. (Dan Pawlowski Photo)

Published in the October 9, 2017 edition.


BURLINGTON — The WMHS football team came into Burlington on Friday night with a lot to prove after losing their previous two games to Wilmington and Stoneham. The Warriors and Red Devils both came into the game with 0-2 league records, making this a must-win for Wakefield. With a high sense of urgency, the Warriors proved that they were nowhere near ready to call this season a lost cause, as they cruised to a convincing 43-21 victory.

“We had a great week of practice and it showed,” said Wakefield head coach Steve Cummings. “We told the guys, ‘here’s what we didn’t do the last two weeks,’ and we challenged them to commit to each other and forget the big picture stuff. If you want to win football games, you have to do the little things right.”

It was clear from the opening kickoff that the Warriors were committed to to give each other their very best. Senior Bobby Young set the tone on special teams, screaming down the sideline and planting Burlington’s returner as soon as he got the ball. Senior Dan Cataldo followed that up by getting a sack on Burlington’s second down, forcing a third-and-long that would go incomplete and give the ball to the Warrior offense.

The offense began their first drive from their own 37-yard line, looking to make a statement after they were shut out in the second half against Stoneham the previous week. On third down, senior co-captain Ryan Fitzpatrick rushed six yards for a first down, which set the wheels in motion for the Warrior offense. Fitzpatrick’s return to the field after missing the game against Stoneham was felt immediately, and throughout the rest of the game, as he led the Warrior offense with 151 rushing yards and two touchdowns. The Warriors’ offensive line got a burst of energy from co-captain Devin O’Brien who also missed the Stoneham game.

“Having Devin back really comforts everybody,” said Cummings. “Having him there, our offensive line was able to get off the ball and create holes, and our backs were able to find them and cut through.”

Having an offensive line at full health meant that the Warriors could pick their spots on when to throw, which they took on a 3rd-and-7 as junior quarterback Mike Lucey connected with junior running back Danny Marinaccio for 47 yards down the seam of the Red Devils’ secondary, and down to the two-yard line. Lucey kept it on an option on 1st-and-goal, getting in the end zone to give the Warriors an early lead. Senior co-captain Brendan Coughlin rolled out on a fake extra point and found senior Andrew Miller in the end zone for two points, giving Wakefield a 8-0 lead.

The Red Devils marched down the field on the next drive, and scored a touchdown, but Coughlin stuffed the two-point attempt, making the score 8-6 with 4:32 left in the first quarter.

On Wakefield’s next drive, Lucey lost a fumble that the Red Devils recovered at the Warriors’ 40 yard-line, but the Warrior defense forced a fumble on Burlington’s second down, that sophomore safety Michael O’Keefe recovered.

The offense responded by driving 77 yards for another touchdown. Young moved the chains on back-to-back runs to start the drive; Marinaccio rushed 13 yards for the next first down; Young rushed 12 yards for another first, then kept the drive moving with a gritty 3-yard carry on a 3rd-and-1 from the Burlington 21 to get into the red zone.

“I thought Bobby Young played fantastic in our backfield,” said Cummings. “He ran the ball hard and goes all out when he lead blocks and makes everyone around him better.” Young finished with six carries for 35 yards.

From the 18-yard line, senior Derek DiMascio took back-to-back runs 13 yards to the 5-yard line. Lucey finished it off with another keeper option for a touchdown and a successful PAT from freshman kicker Dan Hurley gave the Warriors a 15-6 lead with 8:20 left in the first half.

Burlington had a long 44 yard pass to the 10 yard-line, but the defense came up with a big goal-line stop lead by a nice stick from senior Henry Stikeman on third down at the three yard-line. After a false start that pushed the Red Devils back to the 8, the Warriors forced an incompletion and a turnover-on-downs.

With 6:26 left in the first half, Wakefield’s offense saw an opportunity to take full control heading into halftime. Starting from their own 9-yard line, Fitzpatrick moved the chains on an 8-yard, then a 3-yard run. Then on 2nd-and-7, Lucey found junior tight end Billy O’Keefe for a 7-yard first down gain. The Warriors went right back to O’Keefe on the next play, connecting for 47 yards down the right sideline on an excellent leaping catch. Lucey finished 4-5 passing for 104 yards.

“We were able to throw when we wanted to,” said Cummings. “Getting guys like O’Keefe into the mix is huge.”

After Fitzpatrick ran 10-yards down to the 7, Young got it down to the 2 on 1st down and Marinaccio punched it in, giving Wakefield a commanding 22-6 lead after another Hurley extra point, with just 14 seconds left in the half. That six-minute drive was the highlight of the game for an offense that really found their stride in this one.

The Warriors got more of the same from their offense in the second half, as Fitzpatrick took matters into his own hands on the opening drive. On 3rd-and-1 from the Burlington 41, the co-captain rushed nine yards for another first down, the fifth consecutive 3rd down conversion for the Warriors, then broke free on the next play for a 31-yard touchdown run, making it 29-6 Wakefield.

“Our line was huge today, we had some big runs, and were able to convert on 3rd downs,” said Cummings.

After Burlington scored to make it 29-13, Fitzpatrick took a long pitch 24 yards for another goal line opportunity, then followed the offensive line of O’Brien, Cataldo, Pat Redmond, Pat Tannion and Charlie Senior for a 2-yard touchdown run, making it 36-13 after yet another Hurley extra point, who was a perfect 5-for-5 on PAT’s.

DiMascio picked up the final touchdown for the Warriors on a 5-yard run, putting the final touches on a dominating performance.

“Tonight was more like the football team that I’m used to seeing,” said Cummings, as the 2-3 Warriors ready for a tough Woburn team who beat Reading 33-28 on Friday. It will be yet another difficult road test for Wakefield, and their fourth straight away game, but coach Cummings believes that if his team continues to do the little things, it won’t matter where or who they are playing the rest of the way.

“I’m hoping what we were able to do tonight, and the week that we had this week carries into next week, and gives the kids a blueprint of what it is that we need to do week after week if we are going to be a successful football team.”