Warriors pass tough Methuen test in first scrimmage

Published in the August 30, 2017 edition

WAKEFIELD FOOTBALL lined up against the division one Methuen Rangers last night during the first scrimmage of the 2017 season. (Dan Pawlowski Photo)

WAKEFIELD FOOTBALL lined up against the division one Methuen Rangers last night during the first scrimmage of the 2017 season. (Dan Pawlowski Photo)

By DAN PAWLOWSKI

METHUEN — It’s a real debate amongst coaches. What type of opponent do you schedule for the first scrimmage? Some opt for the easy road against perhaps a newer, unestablished program to help build their team’s confidence. Wakefield head coach Steven Cummings doesn’t believe in that exactly. He believes in challenging his team to get better. Which is why he scheduled his Warriors to once again test their abilities against a very strong Methuen program, currently ranked sixth in Division one north.
“Tonight was a great test, Methuen is a good program,” said Cummings. “They have a lot of guys that have been in that system for three or four years, so they’re a little sharper than most teams will be at this point in the year.”
The whole point is to highlight where improvements can be made, rather than reinforce the strengths of the team that coach Cummings and his staff already know, like the offensive line, a senior-laden group led by co-captain Devin O’Brien. While the offense does include many returning starters, like junior quarterback Mike Lucey, the Warriors will be running a new offensive scheme, making a scrimmage against a tough and physical Methuen team, a great opportunity to iron out the wrinkles.
“Offensively, I thought we were pretty sharp,” said Cummings. “Our older guys seem to have a really good grasp on where we’re trying to attack. We’re going to work on some new formations and some different motions that we can put in that will build off of that, but the real meat and potatoes of the offense is in right now.”
There was no official score in the scrimmage, as teams practiced situations from different areas of the field, but Wakefield found the end zone multiple times. Senior Ryan Fitzpatrick punched the first one in, after a strong drive featuring an explosive line and strong running from Fitzpatrick and other backs like junior Derek DiMascio, senior Alex Joly and senior Henry Stikeman.
The offense also featured some highlight reel plays, none bigger than a deep touchdown pass from Lucey to Fitzpatrick right down the seam for en estimated 70 yards. On their next drive, junior running back Dan Marinaccio broke loose for a huge gain down the left sideline before being tripped up right before the goal line.
“I thought our backs ran incredibly hard and our offensive line, for the most part, was on task with their blocking schemes,” said Cummings.
The big plays were proof that even as the offense continues to learn the fundamentals of the new scheme, Warrior fans can expect to see some exciting plays from a talented group.
Defensively, Wakefield came out ready to play jumping the first play from scrimmage for a loss. Methuen would get back on track and score some big-play touchdowns of their own, making it clear to the coaching staff exactly where the Warrior defense needs to improve.
“Defensivley, we were giving up the outside too much, we have to get better at leveraging and pushing the ball inside,” said Cummings.
The offense wasn’t perfect either, as they had a few turnovers and failed to convert on two red zone drives, but the whole point of scheduling a scrimmage against a deep, powerful program with big numbers is to learn from mistakes made during live action, and earn playing time.
The Warriors will have one more scrimmage, against Lynn English on Friday night, 6 p.m. at Landrigan Field, to tune up for their first regular season game against Reading on September 8. If the competition during this next scrimmage is anything like the first one, Wakefield will know exactly what they need to do in order to be ready to make some noise during the 2017 season.
“Overall, I’m very happy with the effort tonight,” said Cummings. “Our focus now is where can we get better?”