Published in the November 8, 2017 edition

SENIOR LINEMAN Pat Redmond (70) rips down a Gloucester running back during Wakefield’s win over the Fishermen last week. Redmond and the defense, including senior lineman Evan McMaster (73) and junior linebacker Danny Marinaccio (33), were excellent all game. (Dan Pawlowski Photo)


WAKEFIELD — The Wakefield Warrior football team returns home for just the third time all season as they get ready to meet the other Warriors of Wayland on Thursday night at 7 p.m.

Wakefield (4-5) and Wayland (5-4) are playing for the first time since 2013 when Wayland won at home, 21-14.

Wakefield is coming off a 20-12 win at Gloucester last week in their first consolation game. Wayland beat Dracut 28-7 last week.

The local Warriors seem to be getting better with each game, as they controlled the line of scrimmage against the Fishermen to get the win. It might be easy to assume that Wakefield is looking ahead two weeks to Thanksgiving, but the Warriors know that by focusing completely on their matchup this week, they are only helping their prospects of winning the last game of the year. The truth is that they can’t afford to overlook Wayland, who was knocked out of the playoffs in the first round by North Reading, 17-14, on a last second field goal.

“We have our work cut out for us given the short week,” said Wakefield head coach Steve Cummings. “Wayland is a tough team that has played some good football this year.”

Wayland will be led by junior halfback Wellington Pereira who is built more like a linebacker than a running back. Pereira ran for 119 yards and three touchdowns against Dracut last week. The opposing Warriors have a balanced offense with a good mix of Pereira’s power and change-of-pace backs.

“They run multiple looks offensively,” said Cummings. “They try and spread you out and run the ball at you with a good mix of halfback and quarterback runs. They have good size up front, quick guys in the backfield, and solid receivers.”

Wakefield are no strangers to a tough schedule, but all of Wayland’s losses have come against very good competition.

“Of the four teams they lost to, Hopkinton is 9-0, Lincoln-Sudbury is 9-0, Lynnfield is 8-1, and North Reading is 6-3,” said Cummings.

On top of their last-second loss to North Reading, Wayland was barely edged early in the season by Lynnfield, who is playing in the Division 5 North final this week (against familiar Wakefield foe Watertown).

While Wakefield’s defense came up with plenty of big stops against Gloucester, led by a line including Devin O’Brien, Alex Joly, Bobby Young, Evan McMaster, Pat Redmond, Billy O’Keefe, Taaj Andrews and linebacker Brendan Coughlin, the offense was also impressive, led once again by the line.

The Warriors leaned on running back Ryan Fitzpatrick for most of the contest, as he finished with 166 yards from scrimmage and a touchdown, but the line, led by Joly, O’Brien, Redmond, O’Keefe, Charlie Senior and excellent work from sophomores Liam Cosgrove and Anthony DeVito in their first varsity starts, really controlled the game. All of the aforementioned and more will need to be at their best to beat a dynamic defense.

“Defensively, Wayland is very aggressive,” said Cummings. “They get off the ball extremely well, they tackle in open space, and they have great team speed.”

The goal for Wakefield hasn’t changed from last week to this week. Playing Wayland at Landrigan means the Warriors have another opportunity to continue to get better against a very good team in what will be an awesome environment. So while you wouldn’t blame them if they were looking ahead to the biggest game of the year, Wakefield isn’t falling for it. They have work do this week.

“We are going to use this week to get better. Every game is important,” said Cummings. “We are looking forward to testing ourselves with a very talented football team.”