Warriors control line of scrimmage for a 20-12 road win

SENIOR CO-CAPTAIN Devin O’Brien (77) brings down Gloucester’s Ryan Argentino (8) for a three-yard loss in the 1st quarter of the Warriors’ 20-12 victory over the Fishermen on Friday. (Dan Pawlowski Photo)

Published in the November 6, 2017 edition


GLOUCESTER — The consolation round often times creates some of the most difficult games, especially if a team is one week removed from a close playoff loss.

The Wakefield High football Warriors ran onto the field at Newell Stadium under those exact conditions and no doubt with thoughts of their first-round loss to Marblehead still fresh in their memories.

“The biggest fear is that your guys aren’t going to be dialed in because people might say this game doesn’t matter,” said Wakefield head coach Steve Cummings. “I told our guys ‘if it didn’t matter we wouldn’t keep score and we wouldn’t practice all week for it.’ Every game is important.”

The Warriors proved from the very first series that they were taking this game very seriously. Wakefield’s defensive line pushed the Fishermen back on three straight plays, including a sack from senior Pat Redmond on second down, and forced a punt. Wakefield’s offense went three-and-out to start their night, and Gloucester put together a drive that culminated with a 31-yard touchdown connection from Matt Smith to Oliver Emerson on 4th and 11. The Warriors blocked the PAT but trailed 6-0 with 2:24 left in the first quarter.

Wakefield’s response would be swift. The Warriors started from their own 28, and senior Derek DiMascio got them going with back-to-back nine-yard runs. Those two physical runs up the middle got Wakefield’s offensive line into rhythm, and opened up the edge for junior running back Danny Marinaccio who flew around the corner and broke away for a 54-yard touchdown. A failed fake on the PAT put the score at 6-6.

Wakefield’s defensive line took over on Gloucester’s next drive as senior co-captains Alex Joly and Devin O’Brien each got into the backfield and created negative plays, forcing another three-and-out as the first quarter came to an end.

The start of the second quarter saw the Warriors backed up to their own one yard line after an excellent punt pinned them deep.

What followed was a wild 20-play drive in which the Warriors actually gained 114 yards if you count a chop block penalty that brought them back 15 yards after they gave themselves some breathing room. Senior co-captain Ryan Fitzpatrick carried the load for most of the drive, including 10 rushes for 55 yards.

On a 2nd-and-goal from the 10 yard line, junior QB Mike Lucey ran an option to his left. He was immediately met by multiple Fishermen and was getting dragged down when he just barely got a pitch away to Marinaccio who took it to the edge once again and dove into the end zone for his second score of the game. A successful PAT from freshman Dan Hurley put the Warriors up 13-6 at the half.

“I’ve never seen anything like it,” said Cummings of that drive. “Our guys just wanted it. The offense really executed and played well.”

The two teams went scoreless during a tough and physical third quarter, although the Warriors started a drive at the end of the frame that would result in a touchdown early in the 4th. This drive went eight plays for 73 yards, and some more tough physical blocks from the offensive line helped Wakefield earn a 20-6 lead. The drive was highlighted by a 20-yard catch by Fitzpatrick from Lucey and 27-yard run from Fitzpatrick that saw the senior break through multiple tackles and rumble to the 3 yard line. Wakefield’s coaching staff called a run for Fitzpatrick to give him an opportunity to finish what he started and the captain came through, punching it in for a two-score lead.

The drive was even more impressive considering the offensive line was playing without senior regulars Dan Cataldo and Patrick Bertini. O’Brien also needed to come out of the game in the 4th quarter, but the patch-work line responded very well, including nice work from sophomores Anthony DeVito and Liam Cosgrove who made their first varsity starts in this one.

“That’s a good, tough, physical football team. Not really a spot where you want to be making your first varsity start but both (DeVito and Cosgrove) played very well,” said Cummings. “I thought our offensive line was great tonight.”

Gloucester would get a four-yard touchdown run from Smith, but the Warrior defense held and forced a turnover on downs when Gloucester got the ball back with six minutes left.

Once again, it was the defensive front, led by Joly, Redmond, senior co-captain OLB Brendan Coughlin and senior Evan McMaster who won the battle at the line of scrimmage and helped the team earn a hard-fought victory over one of the state’s historically best programs.

“It was a complete team effort tonight I’m very proud of the guys,” said Cummings. “Defensively, We forced them into throwing the ball; we knew that’s not in their game plan. We did a great job on first and second down. The guys read their keys; we tackled well and filled well.”

The 20-12 win might not guarantee anything on paper for the Warriors. It won’t move them up a round or get them one step closer to a championship. What it did do was just as important, as the Warriors are clearly looking at their two consolation games as an opportunity to get better. Wakefield played a great game against Marblehead. They were even better Friday night. No matter who Wakefield gets at Landrigan Field this Thursday, the goal is to play even better. All to make sure they are playing their best come Thanksgiving.

“Tonight they proved that it’s all about being able to line up with your buddies, the guys you’ve been playing with your whole life because the seniors only get a couple more of these,” said Cummings. “They really showed me that they care about it and they want to push through and do whatever it takes to win.”