Red Raiders make history with 21-0 win over Nashoba

Published in the December 8, 2017 edition

MELROSE FOOTBALL players celebrate as Super Bowl champions after a 21-0 shutout over Nashoba Regional on Sat., Dec. 2 at the Div. 4 State Final at Gillette Stadium. It’s Melrose’s first ever Super Bowl victory after decades of attempts. (Donna Larsson photo)


MELROSE—A win for the ages. A day over one hundred years in the making. After years of heartache and glory, the Melrose Red Raider football team are now Super Bowl champions. 

On December 2, 2017 Melrose became the Div. 4 State Champions with a 21-0 shutout victory over Nashoba in front of a legion of Melrose fans at Gillette Stadium in Foxboro. The Red Raiders finish their season perfect, with no one left to beat at 13-0, a flawless record not matched since 1946. This was Melrose’s fourth attempt at a Super Bowl win, with previous trips in 1982, 2014 and 2015. They now join the ranks of the best Melrose High School teams in history. 

Fourth time was a charm for Melrose, who swept the Chieftains on the legs of Melrose running back sensation Isaac Seide. The junior amassed 184 rushing yards out of Melrose’s total 204 yards, with two touchdowns and 28 carries, making up nearly all of Melrose’s offense. Meanwhile, a momentous effort by Melrose’s defense and a well-timed pick off by sophomore Chris Cusolito helped seal the deal against Central Champ Nashoba (10-1) who only two years ago upset Reading at Super Bowl. 

Melrose coach Tim Morris and his captains, Adam Caffey and Colin Kiernan, were on hand to accept the State Championship trophy after the final whistle. Coach Morris, now in his 24th year, soaked it in. “This is awesome and I’m so happy for the kids. I’ve been doing this for 25 years, so it’s a long time coming. Hard work eventually pays off, that’s the lesson.” 

Junior running back Issac Seide says he was only able to accomplish what his linemen provided.  “We have such a great offense line. They are always giving me daylight, and that’s why we were able to pound the ball the way we did.”

“All year long Isaac’s been getting it done,” said Morris. “He just keeps getting better. That was a good team we played. You’ve just have to keep working and he’ll break one. We grinded it out a few today. They weren’t as explosive runs for him, but he got the job done.”

The momentum of the day shifted early early in the contest when Nashoba was forced to adjust game plans following the injury of their starting quarterback Sam Bolinsky. In just their first drive, Nashoba had advanced to the Melrose 32 on the work of Adam Hume and Breese Hill, before Bolinsky fell to injury on a 4th and 1 QB sneak, blanketed by coverage from Melrose’s Mike Sickler, Charles Femino and others. Bolinksky attempted to enter the game twice more before being taken out of the field by stretcher. The move prompted Nashoba to assign their standout wide receiver Breese Hill to back-up QB duty, which changed the entire blueprint of the Chieftain’s game. But it didn’t changed the intensity of that drive as Melrose’s Kemar Bynoe issued a clutch sack and Colin Kiernan tackled Hill to turn the ball over to Melrose at the 19. It was a defensive stand that set the tone for the rest of the game. 

“Some of their preparation went out the window as ours did,” Morris said of that first drive. 

Still, Nasboba—like many teams this year—had no answers for Isaac Seide, who scored fast and furiously. He helped Melrose strike first in the opening minutes of the second quarter, starting with a 25-yard rush that brought Melrose into the red zone. With 4th and 1 on the nine, quarterback Charlie Stanton ran a keeper that gave Melrose a first down. Two handoffs later, Seide found the end zone on a TD scamper and, with a good extra point by Mike Calvert (3-3 on the day), Melrose took an early and critical 7-0 lead. 

The two teams went scoreless as halftime approached, thanks to defensive stands from Melrose’s Mike Sickler, Cam Rosie, Adam Caffey, Peter Lewis and Kemar Bynoe, who preserved a 7-0 Melrose lead at halftime. Melrose came out strong in the second half, forcing the Nashoba punt and setting up Seide to score again on a 6-play drive, with lanes opened up by Charles Femino and Derek DiRaffaele. That drive culminated in a 15-yard TD run that gave Melrose a lead of 14-0 and had Melrose fans going bananas with 4:30 left in the third.

On their next possession, Nashoba killed the clock on a 10-play drive on a series of passes and runs, moving the ball from their own 38 to the the Melrose 25, when stand-in quarterback Breese Hill threw a 4th and 4 pass into the arms of Melrose’s Chris Cusolito, who flew down the field for 50 yards to the Nashoba 25. It effectively took the Chieftains out of the game. 

At the beginning of the fourth Seide simply took over on a series of runs, including a wild sweep where he evaded three defenders on the left and scrambled right across the field, for a first down gain. Melrose took their time getting to the end zone, with hand offs to Seide and finally capitalized the drive with a 2-yard Stanton keeper to put Melrose up 21-0. 

Nashoba’s last stand ended with 29 seconds left when Melrose senior Jack Whitney picked off a Breese Hill pass on the Melrose 30 to turn the ball over and drain the clock. the Red Raiders descended on to the field in jubilation, first-ever Super Bowl victors and owners of a perfect 13-0 season. 

After the game, coach Morris spoke of the significance of the victory. “These are events that the whole city comes out for. We know what it means to them by the sheer numbers that came down to see us today. It’s something special.”

Coach Morris spoke of the momentum shift after Cusolito’s pick off. The sophomore’s performance in playoffs has made him a player to watch next season. “I think [Cusolito] had his third pick in three weeks. He’s a good young player for us and the best is yet to come.”


Senior captain Adam Caffey spoke of Red Raider pride. “I was on this team sophomore year and we lost here that year. I just know how it feels to lose. [Nashoba] was great and deserved to be here. We just came up on top and its a great feeling.”

What set this team apart from others who came close? Says Caffey, “I don’t know. I know we are a brotherhood. We’ve been friends since childhood and have our traditions together.” Caffey, whose brother Will played in the 2014 and 2015 Super Bowls, was asked if there would be family bragging rights. He chuckled and answered, “Absolutely.”

Celebration continued, and Red Raider players hoisted their trophy and broke into a rendition of John Denver’s “Take Me home, Country Roads.”

And they did. State and local police escorted the Red Raider buses home from the stadium and through the streets of Melrose, where they were greeted as local legends. The perfect end to a perfect season.