Warriors and Magicians meet in D4N quarterfinals tomorrow

SENIOR CO-CAPTAIN Alex Joly (45) lead blocks for fellow co-captain Ryan Fitzpatrick (26) against Watertown last week. (Dan Pawlowski Photo)

Published in the October 26, 2017 edition.


WAKEFIELD — Like most high school football teams at the beginning of the season, the Wakefield Warriors crewated a list of goals to accomplish in 2017. Some of those boxes have been checked and some haven’t. For example, the Warriors wanted to win the Middlesex League’s Freedom Division. That didn’t happen. But of all the goals this team set, the one that Wakefield’s head coach Steve Cummings has been referencing all season is that his team needs to be playing their best football at exactly this point of the season.

“We’re very excited,” said Cummings of the opportunity to meet the undefeated Magicians in round one. “We haven’t played our best football yet and we’re really starting to click right now.”

The Warriors (3-4) certainly clicked against a good Watertown team last week at Landrigan Field, as their 21-14 victory sealed a spot in the playoffs. Marblehead’s 10-7 win over Danvers last week cemented this first round matchup, and kept the Magicians’ perfect season alive at 7-0.

Coach Cummings has plenty of respect for Marblehead’s head coach James Rudloff and the program that he has built. He is especially impressed with the number 41. That’s the number of points that opposing teams have scored against Marblehead this year, which is an average of less than a touchdown per game (5.8).

“They play good team defense,” said Cummings. “They have a lot of speed.”

Cummings is especially aware of middle linebacker Aidan Gillis who he said is good enough to play on Saturdays one day.

But despite the fact that Wakefield’s coaching staff knows their opponent very well, especially after losing to Marblehead in the second game of the season last year, Wakefield is locked in on executing their own game plan tomorrow night.

“We can’t focus on what they’re going to be doing,” said Cummings. “We’re focused on playing our game.”

That game plan will lean on the defense and running game, the same formula that beat Watertown last week.

Despite their dominating defense, the Magicians prefer the shootout to the slog. Wakefield will need to control the tempo and the line of scrimmage to slow the game down and gut out a win. The Magicians will have to earn every inch.

The senior-laden defense was great against the Raiders, led by Alex Joly and Devin O’Brien up front, Dan Cataldo Brendan Coughlin and junior Danny Marinaccio at the second level and Ryan Fitzpatrick in the secondary. The offense has worked all year to find their groove in a new scheme that revolves more around the run behind the all-senior offensive line (O’Brien, Cataldo, Pat Redmond, Patrick Bertini and Charlie Senior) and plenty of willing lead blockers like Bobby Young and Derek DiMascio.

All of them will have to be at their best as a group tomorrow.

The Warriors have been working through the bad weather this week and have made it a point to make sure they are practicing at a high level.

“Our communication has been great this week,” said Cummings. “These last three days have been our best practices of the year.”

The Warriors are no strangers to tough road games this year, playing in Reading, Wilmington, Stoneham, Burlington and Woburn so far. A win in Marblehead would send Wakefield to either Wilmington or Gloucester.

As for their chances against Marblehead, coach Cummings knows that there aren’t many outside the practice fields at WMHS that are giving the Warriors a chance. But as far as Division 4 goes, Wakefield knows they can compete with anyone; undefeated or not.

“We can beat every one of the other seven teams in this bracket,” said Cummings.

Tomorrow night’s game in Marblehead will feature an electric atmosphere in support of a really good team. After all, it is the playoffs, which makes this the perfect chance for the Warriors to make a life-long memory.

“I keep telling the guys, ‘the best part about this game is that it won’t be easy, but those are the ones that mean the most. Those are the ones that you’ll remember.’”