Warriors posted a 5-6 record in Boyages’ final season as head coach
By JIM SOUTHMAYD
WAKEFIELD — For some high school football programs, a 5-6 record is pretty good. But for the high standards the Wakefield Memorial High program has each year, a 5-6 record was a little bit of a disappointment.
The Warriors had an up and down season and finished with a losing record for only the third time since 1992 when Wakefield went 1-9. Wakefield also had losing records in 2003 and ‘07.
Wakefield had flashes of brilliances, particularly during a three-game home stand in October. But Wakefield was unable to sustain that momentum in late October and into November.
“I’m a little disappointed with the season,” said Head Coach Mike Boyages, who announced his retirement after 18 years. “We had a good stretch where we won three games in row but we didn’t play as well overall as I would’ve liked. We had a lot of inexperienced players this year.”
There were several reasons why Wakefield had little bit of a down year. One is that the Warriors had a young team. The other was the injury bug hit Wakefield hard, especially in the offensive backfield.
Wakefield had many new faces on both sides of the ball as they returned very few starters from the 2013 season. Also, two of the key running backs — senior Luke Martin and junior Paul McGunigle — were both lost to injury and that hurt the Warrior rushing attack.
McGunigle was injured in the second game of the season against Lynn English, and although he returned briefly to kick PATs against Burlington on Oct. 24, he never returned to the backfield where he made an impact as he rushed for 101 yards on 15 carries and two touchdowns. Even though he barely played, McGunigle finished as the third leading rushing on the team.
Martin was Wakefield’s featured back and he was the leading rusher with 817 yards on 122 carries and 10 touchdowns. The senior suffered an ACL injury in the quarterfinal playoff game against Melrose on Halloween and was lost for the season.
“We lost Martin and McGunigle and even Zach Kane for a couple of games,” said Boyages. “The loss of Martin was a big hit to our running game. It was disappointing for Martin, a senior. Also it hurt not having him for our final three games. We lost to Winchester and then on Thanksgiving to Melrose.”
The Warriors became more a passing team later in the season due to the injuries at running back. Senior QB Anthony Cecere completed 92 of 188 passes for 1,310 yards and 11 touchdowns. He was also intercepted eight times with three of them coming in the playoff game against Melrose.
The senior QB was the second leading rusher on the team with 369 yards on 90 carries with five TDs.
The leading receiver was senior TE Dylan Brady who made 20 receptions for 279 yards.
Wakefield started off the season with a high-scoring 35-27 overtime loss to Lexington and then pulled out a 32-14 triumph over Lynn English in the first of three straight road games.
The Warriors then lost the first two games of the Middlesex League Freedom division schedule as they dropped a 17-15 September contest to Melrose and a 41-22 defeat to eventual league champ Watertown. Both games were on the road and Wakefield was 1-3 at that point.
The Warriors returned home and won three straight games to finish the regular season at 4-3. Wakefield blanked both Wilmington (21-0) and Stoneham (27-0). The Warriors capped off the three game home stand with a 35-14 triumph over Burlington.
The Warriors were seeded sixth in the Div. 3 Northwest sectional playoff and were pitted against third-ranked Melrose in the quarterfinal playoff game. Wakefield’s postseason hopes of a Super Bowl berth were dashed with a 24-0 loss to the Red Raiders on Oct. 31 at Fred Green Field. It was also that game where Wakefield lost Martin as he was hurt on the final play of the contest.
In the consolation bracket, Wakefield lost to Winchester (30-26) after spotting the Sachems the first 30 points of the contest. Wakefield then squared off against Burlington for a second time and held on for a 14-13 triumph.
In the Thanksgiving Classic, the Warriors faced Melrose for the third time of the season and came up short by a 15-14 score at Landrigan Field. Melrose went on to the Div. 3 Super Bowl and lost to Dartmouth by a 14-7 tally.
“I thought we were going to win the Thanksgiving Day game but Melrose made the two-point conversion to win it,” said Boyages. “I give them credit for going for the win. We had a great run against Melrose during my time here but we couldn’t quite pull it out like we had done in the past.”
That was probably the story of Wakefield’s season as it came up short against the Div. 3 Super Bowl finalist three times, two of which were by a mere three points. The Warriors also came up short against Lexington, Winchester and Watertown. All three of those teams had extremely talented and league all-star quarterbacks on their roster which gave Wakefield’s defense (and other defenses) fits all season long.
“We couldn’t quite get over the hump. It wasn’t from a lack of effort,” said Boyages. “Even though the season didn’t go as planned the attitude never changed and my kids were great. They were able to stay positive out there. We couldn’t seem to catch a break. One our lineman, Mike Hakioglu, was coming into his own before an injury ended his season.
“It would’ve been nice to get one or two more wins and have a winning season,” continued Boyages. “With the playoff format, we played Melrose three times and Burlington twice. We played a good Lexington team and we fell behind against Winchester but made a hell of a comeback. It was a tough loss.”
Boyages, who finished his 18-year career with the Warriors with a 131-60-3 record, thought his team was going to hang on against Melrose. But the Red Raiders rallied to win the game in Boyages’ swan song as WMHS head coach.
“It didn’t work out,” said Boyages. “Melrose is a well-coached team.”
Looking ahead to next year, Wakefield will have a new head coach in place and the Warriors will be looking to get back to their winning ways. Although some key players will be lost to graduation, the underclassmen and the underclass programs are capable of providing the talent for Wakefield to be a strong football team again next year.