THE 2021 NORTHEAST Metro Tech football team captured the CAC championship with their 42-6 victory over Essex Tech on Thanksgiving. The Golden Knights will host Greater New Bedford in the Mass. Vocational Large School championship game on Friday night at Wakefield High’s Landrigan Field. (Northeast Athletics Photo)
Hosts Greater New Bedford in Vocational championship Friday at Landrigan
By STEPHEN MARTELLUCCI
WAKEFIELD — It was a happy Thanksgiving on two fronts for the Northeast Tech football team. First of all, they rolled over visiting Essex Tech, 42-6, at Hemlock Field. Second of all, the win captured the Commonwealth Athletic Conference Large Division title as they went to 9-3 overall and 5-1 in the league.
The last time the Golden Knights won the title was 2018 when they were co-champs. The last time they won it alone was back in 2016.
“This is what we play for,” said Northeast head coach Don Heres.
The Hawks, meanwhile, ended the year at 5-6 overall and 1-5 in the CAC.
Steve Donnelly was the star of the game as the senior running back ran for 249 yards and three touchdowns. The workhorse has run for over 1,800 yards this fall.
“He ignites us,” said Heres. “We also have a good offensive line in front of him.”
After getting the ball on downs on the first Hawk possession, it took only one play for the Knights to score as Donnelly broke open for a 65-yard touchdown run. Wakefield resident, Chris Zullo, ran in the two-point conversion for an 8-0 lead.
The Hawks punted on their second drive and, after a Knight holding penalty negated a Donnelly 80-yard touchdown run, Donnelly struck again for an 79-yard touchdown run down the right side as the Knights ran the same exact play.
Zullo, a sophomore, ran in the two-point conversion again and it was 16-0 with 5:07 left in the first quarter.
On the third series, the Knights scored again driving 65-yards as quarterback C.J. Moriconi hit Anthony Tinkham with a 24-yard touchdown pass. Tinkham is a senior from Wakefield.
This time, the two-point conversion run was no good and it was 22-0 with 9:32 left in the second quarter.
Northeast had a chance to score again just before the half but ran out of time after getting to the Hawks 6-yard line.
The Hawks were able to recover an onside kick to start the second half and, on 4th and 12, quarterback Devin LeBron hit Shane Fields down the left sideline for a 46-yard touchdown pass. The two-point conversion pass was incomplete to keep the score at 22-6.
Essex Tech then held the Knights on downs at the Northeast 27-yard line as Heres rolled the dice trying to get the first down. The Hawk offense then got down to the Knight 7 but a personal foul and a sack pushed the ball back to the Knight 41 and forced a punt.
“That was the key drive,” said Heres. “I was getting a little nervous.”
Northeast took control of the game again marching 87-yards with Donnelly scoring on a 16-yard run. The two-point conversion run was no good but the Knights comfortably led, 28-6 with 2:21 left in the third.
On the next Knight possession, after getting the ball on downs at their 20-yard line, they scored another touchdown as Moriconi found Tinkham again, this time, from 35-yards out. Moriconi ran in the two-point conversion to make it 36-6 with 6:52 left in the game.
Nico Panagopoulos capped off the scoring as he picked off LeBron (8-21 passing for 120 yards one interception) and returned it 22-yards for the touchdown. The two-point conversion run was no good.
“C.J. made the right reads and throws,” said Heres of his junior QB who went 4 for 5 passing for 104 yards.
The Golden Knights will wrap up the season on Friday, Dec. 3 as they will face Greater New Bedford Tech at 6 p.m. in the Mass. Vocational Large School championship game. That game will be right next door for the Knights as it will be played at Landrigan Field.
“I want to thank everybody who helped us at Wakefield High,” said Heres, about allowing the Knights to use Landrigan which has a field turf surface. “They have been treating us like brothers for years.”
Greater New Bedford will enter that game at 7-4.
Along with Zullo and Tinkham, the third Golden Knight starter from Wakefield is junior linebacker and tight end Steven Day.
Tinkham and Day were two of seven Golden Knights named CAC football All-Stars. Zullo was named an Honorable Mention.