Published in the September 24, 2015 edition

THE HAMILTON–WENHAM OFFENSE had very little success against North Reading's defense Friday night. Above, Senior Nic O'Connell tackles quarterback Thomas Rostad. Also for the Hornets: Michael Quaratiello, (70) and Bob O'Donnell, (52). (Bob Turosz Photo)

THE HAMILTON–WENHAM OFFENSE had very little success against North Reading’s defense Friday night. Above, Senior Nic O’Connell tackles quarterback Thomas Rostad. Also for the Hornets: Michael Quaratiello, (70) and Bob O’Donnell, (52). (Bob Turosz Photo)


NORTH READING — Through the first two weeks of the season, the 2015 NRHS football team’s ground game has been as dominant in its way as  the New England Patriots’ passing attack, frustrating and wearing down their opponents on offense and defense.

The Hornets, thanks to nine different runners rushing for 391 yards, simply beat up the Hamilton–Wenham Generals 42–0, in North Reading’s home opener last Friday night, in front of enthusiastic, loud and happy fans who had plenty to cheer about.

The running game was not the only thing that was dominating at Arthur Kenney Field that night, as the Green and Gold defense pitched their first shutout of the year and gave up 85 yards of total offense for the night and only seven first downs. So far in the young season the Hornets have yielded just 247 yards of total offense and 14 points through two games.

“I’m pretty proud of the defense,” say North Reading Head Coach Jeff Wall. “We have great athletes, especially in the secondary, but give credit to the linebackers and defensive lineman for stopping the run. Then, when they have to throw, they have to throw on our better athletes.”

Despite a number of self–inflicted penalties, the defense owned the night, keeping Hamilton–Wenham off the scoreboard – only the second time in the Generals’ last 14 games they’ve been shut out. Senior Captain Nic O’Connell led the squad with 11 tackles and one sack. Matt McCarthy had six tackles and two sacks, John Merullo and Drew Delano contributed five tackles each, Nick Copelas and Bob O’Donnell each had six tackles and Tom McHugh added one sack.

The scoring started for the Hornets on their first drive of the game set up by great field position thanks to an interception by senior David Smith deep in the Generals’ territory. John Merullo would complete the short drive with an 8 yard run for the game’s opening touchdown. Bobby O’Donnell would kick the extra point for the early 7–0 North Reading lead.

Hamilton–Wenham’s following offensive drive was artificially extended by several self–inflicted penalties committed by the Hornets, but the their stout defense kept coming up with big tackles, so after 11 plays the Generals had to punt. This would be the only drive for the Generals all night that went more than 10 plays. This would set up the second touchdown of the night for Merullo, this time from 2 yards out, to give the Hornets the 14–0 lead. Angelo DiSanto would add the extra-point to this around. DiSanto was a perfect six–for–six in extra points for the night.

The Hornets’ lead would be increased to 21–0 on the next offensive drive, as Matt McCarthy broke some tackles and ran 55 yards for his fourth touchdown of the young season. DiSanto added the point after touchdown with 2:46 left in the first half.

It looked like the Green and Gold would be done scoring for the first half, but a quick three–and–out by the Generals’ offense gave the Hornet offense one more chance before halftime and Smith took advantage, running from his own 13 yard-line and threading his way through the Generals’ defense all the way for an 87–yard touchdown. DiSanto tacked on the extra point for the 28–0 lead at the half.

Smith would finish as the leader runner for North Reading, running for 155 yards on just three carries, averaging 52 yards rushed per carry.

Smith would strike again just 1:03 into the second half as he went 50 yards for his second touchdown of the game and with another DiSanto extra point, the Green and Gold had a commanding 35-0 lead.

The last touchdown of the night would go to Nick Copelas, who went into the end zone untouched from 5 yards out and DiSanto’s sixth extra-point closed out the scoring for the evening.

The Hornets are now 2–0 and are playing a team tomorrow night they have rarely, if ever, faced, the Somerville High School Highlanders.  This game should be interesting as both teams should be totally unfamiliar with each other. Game time is at 7 p.m. in Somerville’s Dilboy Stadium.