The Main Course

Nov 27, 2019 by

Published in the November 27, 2019 edition.

Game:
Wakefield vs. Melrose

When:
Thursday, 10:15 a.m.

Where:
Fred Green Memorial Field

Narrative:
The 6-4 Wakefield Warriors travel to Melrose tomorrow morning to meet the 10-0, Super Bowl-bound Red Raiders in the rivalry’s 60th annual Thanksgiving Day game.

Wakefield made the playoffs with a 4-3 record, including a league record of 3-1. Wakefield had victories in the regular season over Belmont, Watertown, Burlington and Wilmington. The No. 6 seed Warriors fell to No. 3 Wayland in the first round of the Div. 4 North tournament, 27-14. Wakefield won their two consolation round games over Dracut and North Reading. Sophomore running back Aidan Sweeney, who had 21 touchdowns on the season, rushed for five TD’s both the Dracut and North Reading victories.

The Warriors were led by senior captains Liam Cosgrove, Anthony DeVito and Chris Miller who all help Wakefield control the line scrimmage on both sides of the ball.

Other key seniors include defensive tackle Taaj Andrews, QB/safety Wesley Pierre (4 TD’s), lineman Jake Sowryda and QB/DB Joe Alden. Alden and Pierre have alternated QB duties throughout the year, and when the two were injured for games against Watertown and Wilmington, freshman Javin Willis became the third freshman to play an important role along with linemen Ian Dixon and Phil D’Alleva as Willis went 2-0 as the starting QB.

The Warriors have welcomed back senior lineman Dan Lamonica in the last two weeks. Lamonica, who was injured most of the season until their game against Dracut, was a starter on offensive and defensive lines last year and brings back a ton of leadership and energy.

Juniors Tucker Stikeman and Danny Hurley have been two of Wakefield’s most consistent performers all year. Stikeman has rushed for seven touchdowns and is a big-play threat whenever he touches the ball. Stikeman has also had a strong season roving between linebacker and defensive back.

Hurley has rushed for four touchdowns and is a strong lead-blocker. He is also one of Wakefield’s leaders at linebacker. Though the Warriors aren’t known as a blitzing team, Hurley is usually the disruptor in the pocket when they do bring pressure. Wakefield’s Swiss army knife as also had another strong kicking year. His seven extra points in Wakefield’s win over Dracut tied his own school record.

Wakefield’s strong sophomore class is highlighted by Sweeney who also doubles as a shutdown cornerback in addition to his RB duties. The secondary also relies on sophomores like Bryan Lynch and Leo Yardumian. Sophomore Sharieff Andrews has also had a strong season as a starting DT next to his older brother Taaj. The Warrior coaching staff have worked Andrews into the offensive scheme more and more as the season has gone on and the young lineman has a bright future on both sides of the ball.

Wakefield is outscoring their opponents this year by an average of 24.8-17.9

Melrose will bring yet another balanced and talented team into the Thanksgiving matchup. The Red Raiders are outscoring their opponents by an average of 40.9-9.8.

The Red Raiders’ explosive offense is led by senior RB Chris Cusolito (25 TD’s) who accounted for four rushing TD’s in Melrose’s 41-7 Super Bowl-clinching victory over Revere on Nov. 15. Other strong running backs include Billy Pesce (5 rushing TD’s) and Jack Hickey (5 rushing TD’s).

Junior QB Brendan Fennell has eight rushing touchdowns and five passing touchdowns this season. The Red Raiders have had five different receivers catch touchdown passes. Cusolito, Sean Herbert and Matt Dussault each have two.

The offense isn’t the only deep part of the team. Playmakers abound on the defensive side. Pesce, Herbert and Hickey are all key parts of the defense as are senior twins Mical and Micye Duntin who set the tone on the defensive line. Melrose has four defensive touchdowns this year, led by Herbert who has two fumble returns for TD’s and a pick six.

The Red Raiders’ season will continue after Turkey Day when they will take on Plymouth South in the D4 Super Bowl on Dec. 7, 3:30 p.m. at Gillette. Melrose won the Super Bowl in 2017.

Melrose leads the longstanding rivalry, 60-41-7, with tomorrow’s game being the 109th meeting between the two schools. The rivalry dates back to 1901.

Wakefield leads the Thanksgiving series 29-27-3 which dates back to 1960.

Melrose has won seven Thanksgiving games in a row and haven’t lost to the Warriors in November since Wakefield won 3-0 on Turkey Day in 2011, the last time the Warriors played in a Super Bowl.

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