Warriors take on defending Div. 5 state champs tomorrow night at AHS

Published in the September 17, 2015 edition.


ABINGTON — The Wakefield Memorial High football team played a very good Beverly team that ran the ball extremely well out of the Wing-T formation. The Warriors are going to face a similar team tomorrow night and this time they hope to emerge with the victory.

Wakefield takes on Abington in a non-league game tomorrow night at 7 p.m. at Abington High School.

The Warriors are 0-1 after their 34-6 loss to the Panthers, while the Green Wave defeated Westfield in a high-scoring 42-39 game last week at home.

“Abington is another team that runs the Wing-T and they have fantastic running backs,” said Coach Steve Cummings. (Shawn) Donovan, as a junior last year, has a lot of talent. Abington also throws more sets at you. They will run the spread, the I, the wing, and the slot formations.

“Defensively, they run a 3-5 and put pressure on you with their linebackers,” continued Cummings. “They’ll change their coverages and their three linemen close the gaps.”

Just like in 2013, the Green Wave are tagged as the defending state champions, after they defeated Northbridge, 36-6, back in December at Gillette Stadium in the Div. 5 state title game.

Coming off their second state championship in three years, Abington is prepared for the title defense, but will do so with some familiar faces as well as a new cast of players.

“They’ve battled with Bishop Fenwick the past few years in Div. 5,” said Cummings. “When we found out, they were open for a game in week two, we jumped at the chance to play them.”

The Abington head coach is Jim Kelliher, who is in his 45th season at the helm of the Green Wave.

While the Green Wave had 13 players graduate from last year’s squad, they were able to keep their backfield intact with senior running backs Donovan and Donnel Leon returning. Donovan (2,000 all-purpose yards, 18 touchdowns last season) will be Abington’s main threat, and also plays defensive back and returns kicks.

Donovan also produces in big games, rushing for 139 yards and three touchdowns in the state championship game.

Combined with Leon, the two will form a dynamic duo that will give opposing defenses plenty of problems, despite the backs having to adjust to a rebuilt offensive line.

Even though the backfield is set, questions still remain for the Green Wave even though some of them have answered against Westfield.

Bryan Dwyer graduated, leaving the quarterback position vacant, as juniors Jake Tosone and Evan Fanara, along with sophomore Jack Maguire, have battled for the starting role.

Also having graduated from last year’s are Aidan Cawley (wide receiver/defensive back), Brian O’Donovan (offensive and defensive line), Luca Cerasani (offensive and defensive line) and Sam Malafronte (fullback/linebacker).

As pass catchers, the Green Wave will look to senior Nate Riordan and Javin Vincelette as the primary targets.

Senior Ryan Paris comes back to bolster the offensive and defensive lines, while Riordan and Josh Martin will play at the linebacker position as Kelliher believes the defense could be the strength of the team.

As for the Warriors, they are hoping to correct the mistakes that cost the last week against Beverly and play a better game this week.

“It’s easy to say it was the turnovers. We certainly didn’t help oursevels by turning the ball over three times,” said Cummings. “We certainly worked on ball security. We had 15 guys who saw significant varsity playing time for the first time and we played a good opponent. We practiced and scrimmaged, but it doesn’t prepare you to play that first game before a big crowd at home under the lights.

“We didn’t execute and we missed assignments,” continue Cummings. “Against a better team, they will take advantage of that. It was a reality check that we need to be a better job. Now that we’ve got that first experience out of the way, I expect us to go out and have a great effort. Hopefully, we can take what happened and learn from that. It’s a long bus ride there. We need to show up and play a good game.”

If the Warriors do that, then they will be 1-1 headed into the Middlesex League Freedom division portion of its schedule.