Published in the November 12, 2018 edition.
By DAN PAWLOWSKI
WAKEFIELD — During a soaking rain that was more like a monsoon at times on Friday night, the Wakefield Warriors and Boston Latin Wolfpack put on a show at Landrigan Field, scoring a combined 77 points.
The game was tied 14-14 at halftime but the Warriors embraced the rain in the second half and came to play, scoring four second-half touchdowns to secure a 49-28 win.
Freshman running back Aidan Sweeney had four rushing touchdowns as Wakefield leaned on their running game for most of the day.
Wakefield’s offensive line was terrific all day. They played as one and executed well together, which will be a key factor as the Warriors prepare for Thanksgiving.
“We scored six rushing touchdowns so that came together well for us,” said head coach John Rafferty of the running game. “Our offensive line did a nice job up front and got squared away early. It was a group effort. We need them to perform as a unit and they did.”
Wakefield’s other two rushing scores came from senior captain Danny Marinaccio, who was no doubt a welcome sight to the Warrior fans watching through the downpour.
It was just the second game of the year for Marinaccio, who also had two touchdowns during his first game of the season against Wilmington on Sept. 21.
“The addition of Danny was huge,” said Rafferty.
Boston Latin struck first with a 1-yard punch in, but the Warriors responded in the first quarter on an 11-yard Sweeney touchdown to tie it 7-7.
After Latin’s Paul Curran made it 14-7 after another short yardage rush, Sweeney scorched to a 70-yard rushing touchdown to tie the game 14-14 at the break.
It’s hard to be a second-half team with low numbers.
Wakefield dressed only 23 on Friday night, but those few healthy Warriors showed up to play and compete for each other for 44 minutes. In a lot of ways, it was a big moment for this team. They will face a tougher opponent on Thanksgiving, but this game proved that those left are committed to stick together and hold up Wakefield football’s proud tradition on their shoulders.
This especially pertains to the seniors. It’s a small number as only six were dressed against the Wolfpack. But, including players like captains Mike Lucey and Marinaccio, Tommy Mottl, Owen Slattery and Derek Dimascio, these senior leaders played with plenty of pride.
And oh yeah, how about Nolan O’Callahan? A senior receiver and defensive back, “Oak” had a huge game for Wakefield, reeling in a 22-yard touchdown pass from Lucey in the fourth, while also coming up with two interceptions to help Wakefield win the all-important turnover battle.
The Warriors also had two fumble recoveries and didn’t turn it over once on offense, leading to a plus-four turnover differential; always a key stat, especially under the conditions played on Friday night.
Marinaccio got on the board first in the second half with a six-yard touchdown run for a 21-14 Wakefield lead that they wouldn’t relinquish.
The Warriors would score twice more in the quarter to outscore Boston Latin 21-7 in the third quarter alone.
Sweeney had a 1-yard rush to make it 28-14 and after the Wolfpack made it 28-21, Sweeney took off for another long touchdown rush, this time for 50 yards for his fourth touchdown of the night.
With the score 35-21 heading into the fourth, the Warriors kept their foot on the pedal. Marinaccio had a 32-yard touchdown run to make it 42-21 and O’Callahan’s TD grab was the last score of the game for Wakefield.
Oh by the way, how fun does kicking in this rain sound? It might as well have been summertime practice for sophomore Danny Hurley who hit all seven of his point-after attempts, in addition to playing well on the offensive line. He’s perfect on the season, except for one blocked PAT attempt.
The Warriors still have a lot to work on during the next nine days as they prepare for the big game.
Most notably the defense, who continues to work in multiple new and inexperienced players.
Coach Rafferty explained how coaches have an easier time getting young players acclimated to schemes on the offensive side of the ball. Defense is typically a much different animal.
“Offense is easier to work with because you often have a direct job to do. Defense is all reactionary,” said Rafferty. “What it comes down to is can they react to what they see? When you’re young, that’s hard to do.”
Like they have all year, Wakefield will continue to put the work in to help those younger Warriors learn where they need to be and what they might see depending on the situation.
What Wakefield fans saw on Friday, was that hard work come to fruition.
“It was huge for all of them,” said Rafferty. “They’re finally getting some reward for all the practice.”
It’s certainly a grind, especially when you’re short on numbers, but if these Warriors stick together and continue to practice with a purpose, whose to say they won’t have one more reward ten days from now?