Published in the August 24, 2016 edition

Numbers are down slightly, but optimism remains high for Warriors


WAKEFIELD — The preseason has begun for the Warrior football program and second year head coach Steve Cummings reports that the numbers are down somewhat this season. But still Cummings and the Warriors are hoping to turn their fortunes around after posting a 3-8 record a year ago.

The Wakefield players have dedicated themselves to working hard during the offseason and Cummings hope the Warriors’ hard work pays off in the Middlesex League Freedom division this fall.

Practice started last Friday and has continued into this week. On Thursday and Friday, double sessions will be held before Wakefield’s first scrimmage on Saturday against Woburn.

“Numbers for our varsity program are a little lower than we have had in the past, but so far the kids have been fantastic,” said Cummings. “We have a great group of guys and our core group has shown tremendous leadership throughout the summer and into this new season. Our captains (Joe Connell, Joe Marinaccio, Alex McKenna and PJ Iannuzzi), along with our other seniors, have really helped set the tone.”

The Warriors will scrimmage Woburn on Saturday at 10 a.m. at Woburn High School. Wakefield will then scrimmage Methuen on Tuesday, Aug. 30 at 6 p.m. at Landrigan Field. The Warriors’ final preseason scrimmage will be on Friday, Sept. 2 at 7 p.m. against Lynn English at Manning Field.

Wakefield opens up the regular season on Saturday, Sept. 10 against Beverly in a non-league game at 1 p.m. at Hurd Stadium.

There is one change on the Warrior schedule. Instead of playing Abington in the second week, Wakefield will host Marblehead in a non-league game on Friday, Sept. 16 at 7 p.m. at Landrigan Field.

“Abington decided to drop us from the schedule but we were able to find a game with Marblehead. Coach (Jim) Rudloff has done a great job with that program. Last year, they were the number one seed in the D3NE bracket, so we are expecting to have our hands full. But it is great to have quality opponents in the non-league (portion of our schedule),” said Cummings.

“We have a loaded scrimmage schedule with Woburn, Methuen and Lynn English. Along with Beverly (in) week 1, I think we have one of the toughest preseasons of any team in the area. It will be a good opportunity for our guys to prove themselves. We are expecting the league to be as competitive as ever, so matching up with top caliber teams is a great way to get ready for that,” added Cummings.

After the two non-league games against Northeastern Conference opponents, Wakefield will begin play in the M.L. Freedom division.

Wakefield is scheduled to play Watertown on Friday, Sept. 23 at 7 p.m. at Victory Field. Then the Warriors have three straight home games against M.L. rivals Wilmington, Stoneham and Burlington. Those games are at 7 p.m. at Landrigan Field on Friday, Sept. 30, Friday, Oct. 7, and Friday, Oct. 14.

The Warriors will then have a crossover game against M.L. Liberty division rival Winchester on Saturday, Oct. 22 at 2 p.m. at Knowlton Stadium.

The Div. 2A North playoffs start after that and run from late October to mid-November for at least three weeks depending on how the Warriors are in postseason play. Wakefield will then play Melrose in the traditional Thanksgiving Day game on Thursday, Nov. 24 at 10:30 a.m. at Landrigan Field.

Returning to assist Cummings this season are Joe Elcewicz, Chris Tolios, Doug Gallant, Ruben Reinoso, Justin Berry, Anthony LaFratta and Rich Moran. New to the staff this year is assistant Sean Smith.

“Our staff only had one change this year. Sean Smith has come on board, coaching defensive backs. He replaces Gus Dettorre on the defensive staff,” said Cummings. “Sean played his college ball at Auburn University, so any time you are able to get a coach that played at that high of a level, it is a huge boost. Sean has worked with some of the kids when they were in the youth program, so his familiarity with the kids has made the transition onto the staff very easy.

“Last year’s 3-8 record hasn’t sat well with anybody, players or coaches,” continued Cummings. “We have dedicated the off-season to try and get this program back to the top of the Middlesex League, where it belongs.”