Warriors take on Stoneham tomorrow night seeking their first win
Published in the October 8, 2015 edition.
By JIM SOUTHMAYD
STONEHAM — When the Wakefield Memorial High and Stoneham High football teams meet tomorrow night, both teams have a lot on the line. However it is a big game for both clubs for two different reasons.
The Warriors and Spartans square off a Middlesex League Freedom division clash tomorrow night at 6:30 p.m. at Stoneham High School.
For Wakefield, the contest is a big game because the Warriors desperately need a win after dropping their first four games of the season. Even though Wakefield is winless, the Warriors still have a chance to make the Div. 3 Northwest playoffs. A win will help Wakefield toward that goal, while a loss will certainly hurt the Warriors’ chances of making the postseason.
Stoneham, meanwhile, has a 3-1 overall record and 1-1 mark in the division. The Spartans are currently ranked as the top team in Div. 4 North and they are looking to remain at the top and gain home field advantage throughout the sectional playoffs.
“We can’t afford another loss. If we can win out, then we’d be 3-4 and right in the thick of things,” said Coach Steve Cummings. “This is a big game for us. Stoneham has some wins and is number one in Div. 4. Stoneham needs this game to host some games in the playoffs. The two teams need this game desperately. We need to play well. We’ve been able to put ourselves in the picture but we need to find a way to win.”
The Warriors, even with the 0-4 record, have played their opponents pretty tough this season. But turnovers have hurt as well as not making the plays in the red zone when needed. Wakefield also has surrendered some big plays on defense which have hurt.
“We need to execute better and we need to avoid the turnovers,” said Cummings. “There is a lot to be encouraged with. We’ve played good competition but we’ve got to be better and find a way to win the close games.”
Defensively, Wakefield will need to be prepared for Stoneham’s ground game which the Spartans have traditionally run. Leading the way is running back Evan Taylor. Taylor, along with RB Brendan O’Neil, combined for over 1,600 yards last season.
“Offensively they like to pound the ball. Taylor runs hard and he gets downhill quickly. He is a handful and he will take you on one on one,” said Cummings. “We need to do a good job at the line of scrimmage and gang tackle him. With Mike Pedrini and the Watertown quarterback (Deon Lewis), Taylor has been able to fly under the radar somewhat. But he is a workhorse and to do what we can to contain is job number one.
“Stoneham has a big line and we can’t give up big runs,” added Cummings. “We would like to get them into third and eight and second and long situations. If they have a third down and two, it plays right into their hands. We also need to avoid penalties. They also run a lot of counters. Coach (Bob) Almeida’s teams have always pounded the football and they have the line to do it. We will have our work cut out for us.”
Cummings would also like the Warriors to have a complete effort for all 44 minutes of the contest. Wakefield has played well in spurts but has been inconsistent in its first four games to date.
“Our season is depending on it,” said Cummings. “We need to play all four quarters and be more consistent. Offensively, we need to find that extra gear on that one play inside the 20. Our special team have been good. We have limited the returns with the exception against Watertown (a 60 yard kickoff return by Lewis). I’m happy with that. We need to play well on both sides of the ball. We need to surround and fly to the ball on defense and find that extra gear in certain spots.”
If Wakefield can win, then it could start the Warriors in the right direction headed to the end of the regular season and the playoffs.
“I think if we can win out, then we could get the sixth seed which would be a decent seed,” said Cummings. “We need to play better and coach better tomorrow night against Stoneham.”