Warriors host Somerville in non-playoff game

AIDAN SWEENEY got his second 2-TD game of the season against Watertown on Friday. Sweeney ran for 115 yards and now has 5 touchdowns on the year. (Dan Pawlowski Photo)

Published in the October 22, 2018 edition.


WATERTOWN — At first glance, there wasn’t much on the line at Victory Field in Watertown Friday night.

The 1-5 Raiders hosting the 1-5 Warriors was more of a matter of pride as both teams were going to miss the playoffs no matter the outcome.

Despite that fact, it was clear the Warriors were in Watertown to get a win.

“Our goal for the game was a win and we got it,” said Wakefield head coach John Rafferty. “Thank goodness, that’s all I can say.”

It certainly felt like a weight had been lifted as the Warriors snapped a three-game losing streak. Like most of the season, Wakefield was still undermanned, however, with the majority of athletes playing on both sides of the ball, the Warriors jumped out to a 14-6 lead at the half and used their rushing game to ice it and hold on for a 21-13 victory.

It was Wakefield’s special teams that set the tone in this one.

After the defense forced a 4th-and-3 from Watertown’s 47, coach Rafferty made it clear to the punt team to watch the ball. Watertown’s talented senior running back Mange Camara, playing in his last regular season game at Victory Field, lined up as the punter but the Warriors knew better. He was there to run.

Camara hiked the ball and took off for the right sideline, immediately greeted by Wakefield sophomore Tucker Stikeman who cut off the angle and forced Camara out of bounds well before the first down marker and right in front of a roaring Warrior bench.

Wakefield’s offense capitalized on the momentum and the excellent field position as they put together a six-play 46-yard drive for the opening score.

Captain quarterback Mike Lucey found junior receiver Michael O’Keefe for a 9-yard gain on 3rd-and-10, setting up a 4th-and-1 from the 11.

Like they would do later in the game with a lead, the Warriors put the ball in the hands of freshman running back Aidan Sweeney (29 carries, 115 yards, 2 TD’s) and told the kid to go get ‘em one.

Sweeney followed the lead of an offensive line who was strong all game, and took the 4th-down carry 11 yards into the end zone for a 7-0 lead following a successful point after from Danny Hurley.

Camara and Watertown moved the ball well enough on their next drive, taking it all the way down within the 10.

On the first play of the 2nd quarter on 2nd-and-3 from the 8, sophomore Matt Cunningham and junior Anthony DeVito made a great read on quick quarterback Nick McDermott, stopping him for just one yard.

Junior Taaj Andrews blew up a run on the next play to set up a 4th-and-1 from the 5-yard line.

The line, with some help from a strong linebacking corps, stuffed the next play to force a turnover on downs. In the mix for Wakefield was Cunningham, Andrews, junior Liam Cosgrove and senior Derek Dimascio. Dimascio’s return to the lineup was felt as one of Wakefield’s emotional leaders. His play up front backed up what he let the sideline know at the start: “We’re winning this game.”

Wakefield’s offense took the 94-yard challenge. After two first downs, Lucey dropped back to pass on a 2nd-and-9 from the 31. It was a great play design. Sweeney snuck out to the weak side on a screen and found plenty of daylight after Lucey hit him in stride, rumbling 31 yards to the Watertown 38.

O’Keefe, who had 80 yards from scrimmage on three rushes and three receptions, got the carry on the next play for 17 yards. Lucey later closed the drive on a 13-yard keeper for a 14-0 lead.

While Watertown did storm back and score before the half on a similar keeper from McDermott, Wakefield entered the break with a 14-6 lead after a failed PAT from the Raiders.

Wakefield’s offense put together the perfect drive to start the 2rd quarter.

Chewing up most of the 3rd quarter clock, the Warriors went 40 yards on 16 plays, featuring 11 runs for Sweeney.

The Warriors’ offensive line, including DeVito, Cosgrove, Hurley, junior Dan LaMonica and freshman Sharieff Andrews, stayed aggressive and consistent, helping lead the way for Sweeney who did a nice job of moving and protecting the ball.

“Sweeney had a good game, and if Sweeney’s having a good game that means the guys up front did a good job,” said Rafferty. “Our lineman did a much better job tonight.”

The biggest play was an 18-yard pass-and-catch from Lucey to O’Keefe but the mostly smashmouth drive ended on a 1-yard punch in by Sweeney, his second of the game.

Wakefield’s secondary helped DeVito pick up a big sack on Watertown’s next drive. Great coverage from Lorenzo Bell, otherwise known as “Zo Island,” made McDermott hold on to the ball a little too long as DeVito made him pay. However, McDermott would get the last laugh on this drive, converting on a 4th-and-4 from the Wakefield 29 with a 21-yard keeper. Watertown would score on a 1-yard rush to cut the lead to 21-13 with 9:43 left in the game.

The Warriors went three-and-out on their next drive, but the defense stepped up, forcing two incompletions and making Watertown settle for a 29 yard field attempt which missed with 5:43 left.

The offense iced it, thanks again to the line and Sweeney.

“We were in a situation where we had to run the ball, take some time off the clock and ice it,” said Rafferty. “I honestly never thought we’d be able to ice a game by just running the ball but we did.”

O’Keefe got into the action with another long jet sweep this time for 26 yards which would end up being all Wakefield needed as they lined up in a well-earned victory formation.

The Warriors will miss the playoffs this season, but seeing progress from so many promising young players was a great sign for the program.

Wakefield returns to Landrigan Field this week to host 0-7 Somerville High.