Published in the November 4, 2019 edition.


WESTON — For much of the first half, Wayland’s third-ranked football team in the Div. 4 North looked every bit like the team who was seven days removed from beating the No. 2 ranked team in Div. 2 North by 37.

Hosting No. 6 Wakefield in a quarterfinal at Weston High on Saturday, Wayland wasted no time in methodically claiming control, scoring three touchdowns on their three first half drives and taking a 20-0 lead at the break.

The Warriors won the second half too, it just wasn’t the same team.

Wakefield bounced back admirably in the second half, refusing to go quietly as they outscored Wayland 14-7 but couldn’t get back into it quick enough to ever make it a one score game as Wayland advanced with a 27-14 victory.

“We were missing our alignment on a number of occasions in the first half so we were shorthanded at the point of attack,” said Wakefield head coach John Rafferty. “We had to make an adjustment and we turned in a much better performance in the second half.”

Wayland senior quarterback Mason Bolivar made an early statement to claim player of the game. Wayland’s 80-yard 7:39-long opening drive was led by Bolivar rushing for 38 yards and passing for 47 including a 2-yard touchdown toss to William Carr.

Bolivar ended up accounting for all of Wayland’s scores throwing for 178 yards and two touchdowns while also rushing for 133 yards and two touchdowns.

In this tale of two halves, Wayland racked up 138 passing yards and 109 rushing yards in the first two quarters while Wakefield only managed 60 total yards.

The local Warriors actually had a strong opening drive themselves before Wayland made a goal line stand.

Playing in his first game since Oct. 11, senior Wesley Pierre had a great return on the kickoff bringing it out to the Wayland 49.

Junior Dan Hurley helped move the chains on a 4th-and-inches from the 40 with a gutsy 1-yard fullback dive.

Sophomore Aidan Sweeney (21 rushes, 90 yards, two TD’s) picked up 27 yards on two carries and Wakefield had a 1st-and-goal from the 8. Junior Tucker Stikeman (17 rushes, 50 yards) brought it down to the 2-yard line, but Wayland’s big defensive line rose to the occasion, shutting Wakefield out on three runs for a huge turnover-on-downs.

Starting on their own 4-yard line, Wayland put together a 96-yard statement drive that only took about three minutes.

Jaison Tucker racked up 47 of his 63 rushing yards on this possession, a 32-yard scamper to the 17 the big rush of the drive.

Wayland, clearly aware of Wakefield’s strong defensive line and run defense, set up that rush by going to the pass early in the drive. Senior Cameron Jones had all six of his catches for 98 yards in the first half alone as Wayland established their air game to set up the run. Bolivar found Jones on a 32-yard strike up the seam that brought it from their own 10 to the 42. After Tucker’s big gains, Bolivar hooked up with Jones again, this time on a comeback route for a 15-yard TD. Jones, noticing the one-on-one coverage, got his QB’s attention and gave him a signal. Bolivar never looked anywhere else.

Pierre got around the edge and blocked the point after keeping the score at 13-0 but the Warriors still needed a boost.

They couldn’t get it on their next drive, a missed assignment on a 3rd-and-8 screen pass forcing a punt. Wakefield was 5-for-11 on 3rd downs in this one.

With 2:48 left in the first half, Wayland went to work on taking complete control.

Starting on their own 28, Bolivar passed for 10 yards then ran for 19, swiftly getting the ball up to the Wakefield 42. Later, a 17-yard connection with Jones brought it to the Wakefield 19 and the pair had one more pass and catch, this one for 17 yards to put the ball on the 2-yard line. Bolivar punched it in for a 2-yard score with under a minute to play in the half.

Down 20-0 at the break against an obviously athletic, powerful and efficient team with better numbers, the Wakefield faithful didn’t head home early.

The visiting Warriors came out firing in the third quarter. A poor Wayland kickoff started Wakefield at their own 46. On the second play from scrimmage, Pierre got the Wakefield fans going, taking a reverse 30 yards down the left sideline to the 22.

The Warriors converted on key downs this time, both by Sweeney, a run on 3rd-and-2 from the 14, then getting four yards on a 4th-and-3 from the 5. The junior running back would later punch it in from the 1 for an emphatic response. After the 60 total yards in the first half, Wakefield had 55 on their first drive of the second.

“We just reminded them the type of effort it takes to beat a team like this,” said Rafferty of his halftime adjustments. There was no doubt Wakefield brought that effort in the second half. “I’m really proud of them for doing that,” said Rafferty.

Wakefield’s defense built on that momentum, getting a big stop in the red zone.

A couple of long passes, first to Carr for 14 yards and then to Tucker for 26 yards, helped bring it to the Wakefield 18. Senior tackle Taaj Andrews made a nice play on first down to bring Tucker down after just three yards. That made it clear to Wayland they would have to pass to get to the sticks. Bolivar looked for Jones but senior corner Jamie Poole made a great play in coverage. After a false start made it 3rd-and-12 from the 20, Bolivar rushed for seven to make it a more manageable 4th-and-5 from the 13 but Pierre and Sweeney broke up a pass on the left sideline to give a charged up Wakefield the ball back.

The Warriors had one great play on a 3rd-and-9 from their own 14 on the next drive. Senior QB Joe Alden faked an end around to a sprinting Sweeney then briefly looked upfield, catching the Wayland defense leaning, Alden then went right back to a still running Sweeney on a wheel route for 26 yards to the Wakefield 40. Their drive would stall and Wakefield punted on a 4th-and-5 from their own 45 with 1:29 left in the 3rd.

On the second play from scrimmage during Wayland’s next possession, Bolivar took an option 64 yards to the end zone for a backbreaking score that all but sealed up this one as Wayland took a 27-7 lead going into the 4th.

Wakefield did put together a strong drive to start the 4th. They went 69 yards but it took 16 plays and 8:47 to do so, leaving just 3:13 on the clock after Sweeney bullied his way into the end zone from 10 yards out for his second score of the day.

The Warriors tried to pass early in the drive in an attempt to score quickly, but they both fell incomplete. It just wasn’t their style.

So, rather than force it, Wakefield played their game.

“It’s just not part of our repertoire,” said Rafferty in regards to getting back into a game via the pass. “We’re a grind-it-out team – that’s our style.”

Wakefield’s O line, including senior captains Liam Cosgrove, Anthony DeVito and Chris Miller along with senior Jake Sowyrda and freshmen Phil D’Alleva and Ian Dixon, got better as the game went along, no easy task against a talented defensive front.

That was just one of the many examples of pride for Rafferty and the Warriors. Add to that a defensive goal line stand while Wayland was doing their best to punch another one in just for the sake of it. Andrews and Cosgrove led the charge and the Warrior D had none of it as the clock bled out, making sure they could at least leave town with a second-half victory.

“We lost 20-0 in the first half but we won 14-7 in the second because the effort was greater and we executed better,” said Rafferty. “Because of that, we were able to make a game of it.”

It’s another step in the right direction against a Wayland team nobody would be surprised to see beat undefeated Revere this week in the semifinals.

“Last week (vs. Wilmington), winning that game and going 4-3 in the regular season was good for the program,” said Rafferty. “Then, in the playoffs against a high-quality opponent, we hung in there and kept fighting. That’s huge; there’s something to be said there.”