Greater Lawrence dominates ground game, beats Wakefield 16-14 in opener

Sep 9, 2019 by

THE WARRIORS run onto Landrigan Field for the first time in 2019. (Dan Pawlowski Photo)

Published in the September 9, 2019 edition.


WAKEFIELD — There were plenty of storylines in-between, but Wakefield’s opening season loss to Greater Lawrence on Friday night at Landrigan Field came down to two Reggies who couldn’t be stopped.

Quarterback Shamil Diaz ran for 259 yards and two touchdowns while running back Maleek DeJesus chipped in 124 yards on 17 carries. Even if they were slowed down, the Warriors may have won.

“We were right there but also very far away,” said Wakefield head coach John Rafferty. “Just a couple of plays made the difference but our run defense was porous so in that regard we shouldn’t have won the game.”

Injuries struck again for the Warriors in the very first half of the season.

Wakefield sophomore running back Aidan Sweeney ran for 93 yards on 12 carries in the first half, including a 4-yard touchdown that gave Wakefield a 7-0 lead in the second quarter.

After Diaz responded with a 21-yard keeper, Sweeney carried the offense down to the 1-yard line late in the second quarter before having to leave the game for good.

Starting quarterback/safety Wesley Pierre was having a strong game, including an interception and 46-yard return that set up Sweeney’s first score and a 3-yard touchdown run himself, but the senior was injured in the third quarter and unable to return.

Including injuries to starting fullback and kicker Danny Hurley as well as captain Anthony DeVito and the Warriors absolutely felt the brunt of bad breaks.

“That certainly had a huge impact,” said Rafferty of the injuries. “We lost three starters in the backfield so that’s difficult to overcome. I thought when we had our full complement of players we did a good job of moving the ball.”

The Warriors made two nearly identical big plays on defense to deny the Reggies at the goal line.

After both teams punted on their first possessions, Greater Lawrence marched down to the 3, but the Warriors knocked out the ball and captain Chris Miller recovered.

It happened again late in the third with Wakefield up 14-6. This time on a rush from one yard out, Tucker Stikeman ended up holding the ball for the Warriors at their own 1, but Greater Lawrence came right back and tackled Stikeman in the end zone on a first down pitch to make it 14-8.

The Reggies’ next possession would end up being their most important.

After captain Liam Cosgrove made a great stop on 2nd-and-3 and Miller set the edge and brought down DeJesus for a 3-yard loss on the next play, Diaz and the Reggies lined up for 4th-and-6 from the Warrior 34. The slippery quarterback took a keeper 34 yards to the end zone and followed that up with a two-point rush to give the visitors a 16-14 lead.

“He’s a dynamic player,” said Rafferty of Diaz.

The Reggie running attack gave them the lead. It was the run game that would also cement it.

After the Warriors stalled, Hurley hit a beautiful punt out of bounds at the Reggie 4-yard line with 10:25 remaining. Fourteen plays and 85 yards later, Greater Lawrence was taking a knee to get out of town with a two-point victory to start their season.

“We have a lot of things to work on and get better at that’s for sure,” said Rafferty. “We have time to change it.”

The Warriors will go back to the drawing board and hopefully get healthy for this Friday as they head to Belmont for a 6 p.m. start. It will be the first game of the season for the Marauders. Belmont went 5-6 last year. 

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