4 touchdowns for Mike Pedrini help Melrose remain 4-0
Published in the October 9, 2015 edition
By JENNIFER GENTILE
MELROSE — We like Mike.
That’s one of the many things fans were thinking on Friday, Oct. 2 at Fred Green Field in Melrose after witnessing a dazzling four touchdown performance by Melrose running back Mike Pedrini who scored all four touchdowns in the Red Raiders 28-7 victory over Watertown; a clash of unbeaten teams that kept Melrose undefeated at 4-0.
The junior finished with 165 rushing yards, 4 touchdowns on 23 attempts and a fourth quarter interception to help Melrose remain the team to beat in Division 3 North. The 5’11 160 lb. athlete was, quite simply, unstoppable.
“Mike has been big for us all year,” says Melrose head coach Tim Morris after the game. “He was a big contributor last year. His pick at the end kind of sealed the deal. He had some great runs tonight and we are proud of him.”
Of course behind every great running back is a great line, and the Raiders’ were once again lights out, with senior captain Cameron Hickey, Jaret Botelho and Brian Mercer proving to be among the division’s best, delivering sack after sack against a talented and speedy Watertown QB Deon Smith.
Half the job was containing Smith, whose rushing ability kept Melrose’s defense busy all night. “Smith’s a player,” acknowledged Morris. “He got loose a couple times here and there – – he was a focus.”
After forcing the punt on Melrose’s first possession, Melrose was first on the board with Pedrini and senior Jay Tyler carrying the ball upfield on a series of carries until Pedrini found the end zone with a 3 yard scamper, for his first touchdown of the night that put Melrose up 7-0, with a good kick from Mike Cusolito.
Melrose forced the punt again and found the end zone after Melrose senior quarterback Julian Nyland rushed on a 20 yard keeper and later connected twice with passes to Alex Burton that set Pedrini up for an 18 yard touchdown run. Melrose took the lead at 14-0 in the second. Despite an impressive sack by Melrose’s Will Brincheiro on Watertown’s next possession, Watertown’s Smith slipped past Melrose defense on a 30 yard keeper which set up a second and 7 on Watertown’s 35. A mighty sack by Melrose’s Brian Mercer was nulled by after an offside call against the Raiders that ultimately allowed a first down conversion by Watertown in a drive that culminated in a 15 yard touchdown run by Smith. Thanks to a recovered fumbled by Melrose’s Steven Abbott, the Raiders remained 14-7 at halftime.
In the second half, Pedrini piled it on thick, scoring a 24 yard touchdown run on Melrose’s second possession and later picking off a Smith pass which set up his 20 yard touchdown, his third of the game, with 5:58 left to play and a 21-7 advantage for Melrose.
By the end of the game, Watertown had lost steam, allowing Pedrini his finale: a 30 yard punt return topped off with a 15 yard touchdown run, his fourth of the night and 10th of the season. It capped the night with a 28-7 Melrose victory.
Coach Morris was more than pleased with the outcome after the game. “We need plays like that in a tight game. It’s turnovers and mistakes. Those things are crucial for us to come up with.”
Melrose next travels to Wildcat territory tonight to take on Wilmington (2-2) at 7 p.m. The Red Raiders will return to play its last regular season home game against Stoneham on Oct. 16 before wrapping it up with a road game in Woburn on Oct. 23. Playoffs will be determined on Oct. 26 and first round play could take place as early as Oct. 30.
Right now, Melrose has a nice edge in Div. 3 Northwest standings, as they keep a cautious eye on Concord-Carlisle, whom they beat last season for the Northwest crown. Across the aisle in the East Division sits old foe Tewksbury, an equally talented team Melrose would have to battle past to return to Gillette. Forecasts aside, Melrose looks to continue their wins this Friday one game at a time.
Remaining regular season schedule
Fri. 10/9 @ Wilmington, 7
Fri. 10/16 vs. Stoneham, 7 (Home: Fred Green Field)
Fri. 10/23 @ Woburn, 7
Thu. 11/26 vs. Wakefield, 10:15 (home)