Kickoff set for 5 o’clock tomorrow

Published in the September 27, 2017 edition

WAKEFIELD’s defense must be ready for Stoneham’s rushing attack, meaning players on all levels will need to tackle well, including senior cornerback Marc Biennestin (5) pictured here driving through a Winchester running back during the Warriors 28-13 win over the Sachems two weeks ago. Also pictured are Alex Joly (58), Danny Marinaccio (33), Brendan Coughlin (13), Bobby Young (40), Cole Gregson (8), Michael O’Keefe (3) and Devin O’Brien (77). (Donna Larsson Photo)

By DAN PAWLOWSKI

STONEHAM — The WMHS football team will travel to Stoneham tomorrow to face the Spartans on a short week. Wakefield (1-2) is looking to get back in the win column after dropping their opening league game to Wilmington, 20-15, on Friday. For a veteran team like WMHS, a short week is a welcome sign after a frustrating loss.

Stoneham will run onto the field with a 3-0 record intact, as they shut out Burlington last week on the road, 37-0. The Spartans also beat Archbishop Williams, 14-12 and Arlington, 30-14.

The Warriors trailed Wilmington 20-0 in the first half before a comeback attempt led by senior co-captain Ryan Fitzpatrick’s two touchdowns came up just short. The tough start for Wakefield combined with the fact that Stoneham scored five touchdowns in the first 15 minutes of their win over the Red Devils means that the Warriors must throw the first punch in this one. Wakefield head coach Steve Cummings emphasized that his team has to be ready from the opening kickoff in future games.

In order to get out to a better start, the Warriors must be sharper on both sides of the ball. The offense started the Wilmington game with four straight three-and-outs, while the defense gave up touchdowns on the Wildcats’ first three possessions of the game.

Against Burlington, Stoneham forced three-and-outs on the Red Devils’ first four possessions while the Spartan offense found pay dirt on their first three drives.

Stoneham uses a double-wing ground game on offense. Running backs Christos Argyropoulos and Tre Pignone provide the one-two punch for the Spartan offense, running behind a big and physical line. Pignone had one TD against Burlington, while Argyropoulos had three. The Warriors will once again rely on their front three, led by senior co-captains Devin O’Brien and Alex Joly to set the tone in this one. The double-wing rushing attack is often considered “old school,” as it is a true power running formation featuring two tight ends, two running backs lined up on either side of the quarterback, and a fullback lined up in the backfield. This formation makes it easy to flood the point of attack with blockers, and with a good offensive line, creates plenty of opportunities for lineman to pull. This likely means that Joly and O’Brien will be double-teamed in most cases, meaning Wakefield’s linebackers led by Dan Cataldo, co-captain Brendan Coughlin and Danny Marinaccio must be ready to plug the gaps.

Wakefield handled Stoneham’s offense well during last year’s matchup at Landrigran Field. The Warriors won that contest, 20-13.

Stoneham also entered that game with a perfect record (4-0) so their memories of that loss will be fresh.

Last year’s game went back-and-forth as the teams alternated scores before Wakefield won the fourth quarter, 7-0. Junior quarterback Mike Lucey threw for 84 yards and two touchdowns in last year’s game. It will be interesting to see how the Warriors adapt in this game, as Lucey and the offense have yet to find a rhythm this season.

Their is a lot of mutual respect between Cummings and Stoneham head coach Bob Almeida.

“They play smash mouth football and it was a war of attrition,” said Cummings after their tilt with the Spartans last year. “We knew we were going to have to play well for all four quarters.”

Expect much of the same this season. The Warriors are no strangers to that style of physical football, it will just be a matter of executing from the very first play. If Wakefield can bring passion and energy to a hostile Stoneham environment, then they can work their way towards a huge win that would certainly set the tone for the rest of the season.