Published in the October 2, 2015 edition
Two Tyler TDs lift Melrose 21-7 over Burlington; Raiders 3-0
By JENNIFER GENTILE
MELROSE — The Melrose Red Raider football team is coasting on cruise control, undefeated at 3-0 after a convincing 21-7 win over Burlington (1-2) on Friday, Sept. 25 at Fred Green Field in Melrose. It was their first Freedom League win with more on the horizon in the coming weeks, including Watertown tonight.
Melrose senior Jay Tyler (118 yards, 7 carries) had a pair of touchdowns to help keep the Red Devils out of reach over the evening. Tyler ran 43 yards into the end zone in the third and rushed for a 30 yard touchdown on the fourth which effectively took Burlington out of the game.
After the game, Melrose head coach Tim Morris credited Tyler for his workhorse performance. “[Jay] comes to play every week and keeps improving. He does the little things that you don’t really notice too: blocking and everything else. We’re happy with the way he’s coming along.”
Melrose’s main mission of the night was to stop Burlington running back Chenet Guerrier, and they did so effectively, limiting the speedy senior’s yards over the night. Red Raider defense was once again stellar, with Cameron Hickey, Brian Mercer, Dan Ouellette, Will Brincheiro, Colin Casey, Jaret Botelho doing a boatload of tackling, and it was a particularly strong night for Tom Calvert who came up big with key tackles and broken passes of Red Devil quarterback Dylan Bonfilio.
Overall, Morris was pleased with the team’s efforts. “We knew we’re going to have to have some seniors really play well, some guys that really didn’t have a lot of playing last year and they’re stepping up. We’re still making some errors and some mistakes but for the most part we’re on track.”
Some of those mistakes could have been hazardous to the team. Melrose committed a series of uncharacteristic penalties during the night, including a turnover on a punt return, a holding call and roughing the passer call, the latter of which led to Burlington’s only touchdown of the night.
However that didn’t stop the Raiders from taking a 7-0 lead at halftime, after junior Mike Pedrini (115 yards, 16 carries) ran 67 yards downfield for a touchdown. Melrose quarterback Julian Nyland had taken Melrose out of the danger zone below the 10 year line on 3rd and 10 with a 30 yard pass to Brincheiro to set it up. A good kick by Melrose’s Michael Cusolito made it a 7-0 contest. Pedrini also prevented what would have been a sure touchdown for Burlington, when Guerrier took off in a 30 yard rush in the first but was finally taken down by the speedy junior.
One of Burlington’s strengths of the night was the work of their punter, senior Nick Mackey, who kicked deep into Melrose territory, forcing the Raiders to start several drives behind the 5 yard line.
After the half, Melrose quarterback Julian Nyland (6-12, 120 yards) connected with Cam Hickey on a 17 yard pass, while Pedrini helped march Melrose to midfield to set up Tyler for his first touchdown of the night, a 43 yard run that made it a 14-0 game.
Burlington hung in however, with Guerrier finding the the end zone on a 3-yard scamper with 2:51 left in the third which put them on the board 14-7. Burlington junior quarterback Dylan Bonfillio (8-for-30, 97-yards passing) came up mostly empty over the night, turning the ball over three times into the arms of Melrose’s Alex Burton, Jaret Botelho and Cameron Hickey.
In the fourth, Jay Tyler ran a series of carries that culminated in a 30 yard touchdown run, that gave Melrose their final score of the evening. In the waning minutes of the game Chenet threatened to score on the Melrose ten but Melrose senior captain Cam Hickey ended the game with an interception.
While the scoreboard could have been more exaggerated on the Raider’s side, for Melrose, a win is a win. Coach Morris acknowledged that the penalties hurt.
“I thought we made some mistakes that just kept them hanging around. We’ve got to be able to do better and learn how to eliminate those mistakes, the penalties and tackling, for us to be more successful. And our run game wasn’t as consistent as it has been.”
Up next is a game that could determine who takes the Middlesex League. Watertown comes to town tonight at Fred Green Field with their own 3-0 record which makes things interesting in the league. Last season Melrose fell in a close game on the road. But this season the Raiders have reset the clock.
“We’ve got to get to work on them, watch some film and figure out what they’re doing,” Morris said. “It’s all league stuff now.”
Action takes place at 7 p.m. at Fred Green Field. Fans should take note this is the last home of the regular season. Melrose hits the road for the next three games before playoffs begin sometime on or around Oct. 30 and chances are Melrose will host a game.
What to expect from Watertown:
Last season Watertown handed the Raiders one of their few losses in a 28-26 road defeat. Melrose will be playing with a bit of revenge on mind and with the advantage of home field. While both teams are 3-0, Melrose has the distinction of beating higher quality teams this year and giving up a lot less points in the process.
No doubt, Watertown’s biggest weapon is their talented junior quarterback, Deon Smith, who was a Boston Globe “Player of the Week” last week after tallying 180 rushing yards for 2 TDs in Watertown’s 20-14 win over a struggling Wakefield team last Friday. Melrose will have to keep an eye on returning running back Zach Risma. Watertown also has a very competent kicker in Connor Kennell, who can reach from close to 40 yards out. Should Smith have trouble against Melrose defense (and he will) expect to see a lot of Kennell at the line, looking to chip away on the scoreboard. All things considered, Melrose will have the edge between the two, undefeated squads.
Remaining regular season schedule
Fri 10/02 7:00pm vs Watertown
Fri 10/09 7:00 pm @ Wilmington
Fri 10/16 7:00 pm @ Stoneham
Fri 10/23 7:00 pm @ Woburn
Thu 11/26 10:15 am vs. Wakefield (home)