Magicians disappear 26-14; Revere (9-0) arrives tonight

Published November 15, 2019


MELROSE—It might have been arctic cold last Friday night, but things are heating up for Melrose High football team.

The Melrose Red Raiders are one step away from returning to the MIAA Super Bowl for their fourth time in six years and first time since their 2017 State Championship victory after a Div. 4 North Semifinal win last Friday night at Fred Green Field. It took beating No. 5 Marblehead, 26-14, in a win that pits #1 seed Melrose against #2 seed Revere (9-0) tonight in the Div. 4 North Finals at Fred Green Field in Melrose.

The winner goes to the Super Bowl. The stakes couldn’t be higher.

BRENDAN FENNELL threw for 150 yards with 2 touchdowns and 80 yards of rushing for Melrose in their win over Marblehead. (Steve Karampalas photo)

The Revere Patriots are coming off a win over #3 seed Wayland (6-2), 42-35, last week so Melrose is now preparing for unquestionably their toughest opponent of the season.

It was a big night for Melrose junior quarterback Brendan Fennell, who threw for 150 yards against Marblehead, including 2 touchdowns, while also running for 80 yards on 12 carries. His running game also provided some critical, third-down conversions.

Said Melrose coach Tim Morris after the game, “I think Brendan is going to sleep well tonight because he did a lot of things for us. He came up big with a couple of third and long passes that helped us out. Big passes too, not just a controlled pass game. And our receivers did a great job too helping him get that done.”

Fennell had plenty of passing options in Sean Herbert (3 catches, 70 yards), Matt Dassault and Brendan Maher, who were the perfect targets for long passes that helped set up nearly all of Melrose’s scores.

Marblehead (6-3) was a defensively sharp team that did a good job locking down senior captain running back Chris Cusolito, who they targeted over the evening, before Cusolito inevitably broke out in the second half, running for a touchdown and amassing 82 yards on 15 carries.

“We knew this was going to be a grind,” said Morris. “They (Marblehead) are always well-coached and are a good team with a lot of weapons. But our defense came up big after that first series. They’ve been doing it all season,” Morris said. “We’re primarily a run-oriented team, but we were able to throw the ball a little bit tonight in some key situations. I think they were very geared up to stop our run and keyed in on Cuse [Cusolito] so that opened up the pass.”

It was the Magicians who scored first, taking a 7-0 lead with 10:45 left in the second when Tim Cronin found the end zone on a 7-yard run. But the momentum quickly shifted when Melrose junior Matt Hickey intercepted a pass on the Magicians’ next drive to give Melrose first and 10 at the Marblehead 39. Fennell tossed a bomb to Sean Herbert, who scored on a 40 yard TD pass to even it up, 7-7, thanks to a good extra point by Zack Federico.

It was all hands on deck to stop Marblehead’s Cronin but when push came to shove, Melrose got the job done. There were critical defensive stands early by Melrose’s Andrew Norton Jefferson, Matt Hickey, Jared Karelas, Brendan Maher, Billy Pesce and Micye and Michal Duntin.

With three minutes left in the half, Fennell launched a drive that was highlighted by a thirty-yard pass to Brendan Maher that set up a Fennell scamper into the end zone to make it 14-7. By halftime, Fennell had almost amassed over 100 yards in passing and was 5-7 in completion. After the half, Melrose’s Billy Pesce was a workhorse in Melrose’s opening drive, marching the ball from the Melrose 20 to the red zone. From there, Fennell hoofed it for a first down and then hit his finest pass of the night: a 30-yard touchdown pass over the middle to wide-open Matt Dussault that gave Melrose breathing room and a 20-7 lead with 6:46 left in the third.

The Magicians tried to pull a rabbit out of the hat with an 11-play drive that led to a touchdown run by Cronin, but Melrose countered that with a 35-yard touchdown run by Chris Cusolito with ten minutes to go in the fourth quarter to give Melrose the final score of 26-14.

     Freedom League Standings 

           League All  Home Away PF  PA

Melrose    4-0    9-0  5-0  4-0   40.9 10.1

Stoneham 4-1   7-2  5-0   2-2   36.7 15.3

Wakefield  3-1   5-4   2-2  3-2  22.9 16.0

Wilmington 2-3  4-5  2-3  2-2  16.4  24.9

Burlington  1-4   3-6  1-3  2-3 18.7   33.3

Watertown 0-5  4-5  2-2    2-3  19.0  23.9