Super Bowl champs are ready for 2019 season

Published in the August 31, 2018 edition


MELROSE—Fresh off their historic, Super Bowl-winning season, the Melrose Red Raider football team kicks off their season on Sept. 7 with a home opener against Malden at Fred Green Field at 7:00 p.m. The Red Raiders (13-0 last year) will be sure to draw a crowd after becoming local legends by capturing Melrose’s first-ever Div. 4 state title on Dec 2, 2017, in a 21-0 shutout over Nashoba Regional at Gillette Stadium. Their final record, 13-0, is a record that has not been matched since 1946, and their Super Bowl win was Melrose’s first in four attempts. 

Can this year’s team live up to the magic of last year’s?

The Red Raiders will certainly be competitive, with several playmakers returning to the turf. But they will have to do so without 2017 hero Issac Seide, a senior running back who has jumped ship to Everett (see accompanying story). While losing the speedy All Scholastic is certainly a blow for Melrose, the team often reloads with emerging talent to help Melrose remain one of the strongest programs in the area.

Coach Tim Morris, now entering his 25th year as head coach, was pragmatic about the move. “We had a dozen or so spots to fill after graduating seniors, so I guess there is just on more spot to fill.”

AFTER AN epic Super Bowl-winning season, Melrose football returns with a home opener versus Malden on Sept. 7 (file photo)

As for returning after a Super Bowl winning season? “Honestly, the Super Bowl is not something we talk about, necessarily. It’s nice coming into the season undefeated, but we consider this a new year, new team.The boys have had a solid off season, training hard and hitting the gym.” 

Melrose opens their season on Sept. 7 at home against Malden, renewing an old tradition between the two teams. After that, they host juggernaut Div. 1 Lincoln Sudbury in another non- league game at home on Sept. 14 at 7:00 p.m. 

Melrose lost some talented seniors last season to graduation, but have plenty of underclassmen ready to step into critical roles. Up for grabs is the role of quarterback. Look for the spot to be manned by either Jessie Gardiner, a junior who led the JV team in QB duties, or sophomore Brendan Fennell. 

Leading the team as co-captains are Dylan Robertson, a 265 lb. lineman and defensive tackle, and senior Kevin Peete, a free safety who is expected to help fill the gap left by Seide on offense. 

Melrose returns some major playmakers in Chris Cusolito, Peter Lewis and Kemar Bynoe, all of whom came up critical in Melrose’s Super Bowl victory. 

Expect Cusolito to be all over the field, helping with the running game and continue to force interceptions and thus make life miserable for league quarterbacks. “Chris is an awesome athlete, and big for us on both sides of the ball,” says Morris. “He helped out big last season when Rey [Guity] went down. I expect him to dominate.” 

Another player who will spoil quarterback games is Kemar Bynoe, the 5’10 260 lb defensive tackle who came up big in last year’s Super Bowl. He, along with Peter Lewis, will help lead a Melrose line, one of the stingiest in the division. 

Melrose should have lots of options in tailbacks and fullbacks. Expect some carries from Nate Monges, Andy Calvert, Billy Pesce, Mike Denton and Matt Hickey. More positions will be filled before the opener, and ultimately, fans can count on Melrose wins this year. 

“We will be as competitive as usual,” says Morris. “So will the league. We have some areas to work on, like tackling and avoiding penalties. But I love working with these kids and it’s enjoyable to coach them. We’re looking forward to a great season.” 

Melrose Red Raider Football Schedule

(regular season)

Fri 9/7/18 v. Malden 7

Fri 9/14/18 v. Lincoln-Sudbury 7

Fri 9/21/18 @ Watertown 7

Fri 9/28/18  v Wilmington 7

Fri 10/5/18 @ Stoneham 6:30  

Fri 10/12/18 @ Winchester 7 

Fri 10/19/18 @ Burlington 7*

Thu. 11/22/18 @ Wakefield, 10:15 (Thanksgiving)

*playoffs begin