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Woburn Edition

H.S. Football: Melrose 32, Woburn 6 (Oct. 20)
By Steve Algeri

MELROSE — The walk from the field to the Woburn team buses in front of Melrose High on Friday night was one of resignation and acceptance for the Tanners. Why? Well the reality of the situation was simply: Melrose was clearly the better team.

Once in awhile in sports you have to give credit to the other guy. They practice just as hard and diligent during the week as you do and sometimes it works out that the other guy is just better. So be it.

Melrose (5-0, 4-0 ML) proved why it is back in the hunt for the Middlesex League title with a convincing 32-6 win over Woburn at Green Field. While a bad snap on a Melrose punt turned into points for Woburn, the Red Raiders did not put up with any other nonsense from the Black & Orange as they limited the rebuilding Tanners to just 53 yards of total offense.

The Red Raiders rolled up 303 yards rushing and had four different players score touchdowns. So if there were any disbelievers left out there about Melrose, put those notions to rest, as Melrose continues to know how to play football along the Fellsway.

And if there are any others out there that think the name Pizzotti is not synonomous with high school football success, disspell that notion too. As area high school football observers saw with the unparalelled successes of the Reading Pizzottis from 1995-2003, Melrose cousin Jack is also cut from the same mold.

This kid can flat out play.

After narrowly being beaten out of the starting QB position last year by Dale Parsons, Pizzotti has assumed the regins and control of the Melrose offense. He led the way for the Raiders offensively with 170 yards rushing on 10 carries with two touchdowns. The most electrifying of the scores came on an early third quarter 65-yard dash out of the spread.

With the Tanners trailing 20-6 at halftime, the Raiders took possession with the second-half kickoff. On third and five, Pizzotti faked the fullback dive and found a crease off right tackle. In an instant he outraced the Woburn defense untouched to the end zone to put a few style in the bank along the way.

Melrose in such control of the evening, Pizzotti needed to throw only four passes and completed two.

Unfortunately for Woburn, it got off to another bad start. A fumble on the second play of the opening possession set Melrose up at the Tanner 35. Six plays later Pizzotti scored on an 11-yard run for a 6-0 lead.

After Woburn went farily quite on its next series, the Tanners forced a three-and-out forcing a punt. A high snap sailed over Melrose punter Kevin Salines' head and Woburn's Jeff Boggs pulled him down for a loss of 25 yards and great field position for the Tanners at the Melrose 20.

Two runs by Justin Flores went no where and the Tanners were faced with a third-and-10 situation. Quarterback Brian Murray completed a 13-yard pass to sophomore tight end Nick Lund on a little delay pattern and Lund found a soft spot over the middle for the key first-down pickup.

Flores lost eight yards as he was forced to the outside and the Melrose pursuit had him hemmed in with no where to go.

But, it was Murray to Lund again as the 6-foot-7 receiver hauled in the pass in traffic with two defenders on him. This put the ball on the three where Bill Gilgun made a little move and dove over a Melrose tackler for the touchdown.

The Tanners had a chance to go ahead, but the extra-point kick failed, but it was tied 6-6 early in the second quarter.

Woburn's Kurt McCue made a nice special team's tackle to force Melrose to start its drive from its own 15. Then a holding penalty on second down backed it up to the eight. But, a Pizzotti eight-yard run then a 14-yard pass completion to Omar Bareentpicked up the first down.

Woburn again looked to have Melrose in trouble on a third and 10 from the Melrose 48, but a roughing the passer penalty extended the drive. On the next play fullback Tim Morris took a carry 37 yards to the end zone for the go-ahead touchdown.

A Woburn interception had Melrose back on the offense again near the half and Jason Campbell finished off the 60-yard, seven-play drive with a three-yard run and a 20-6 halftime lead.

After Pizzotti's 65-yard touchdown extended the lead to a comfortable 26-6 bulge, the Tanners could not overcome the aggressive Melrose defense. Woburn never got back into Melrose territory the rest of the way.

Sean McClorey scored Melrose's final TD on a five-yard run early in the fourth.

H.S. Football: Reading 41, Somerville 6 (Oct. 20)
By Brian Murphy

READING — Five years without a winning season can seem like an eternity for a team that claimed nine Middlesex League titles and four Super Bowl championships in a recent 12-year span (1992-2003). But the Reading High football team assured itself of at least that modest goal with a 41-6 dismantling of visiting non-league Somerville, 41-6, on Friday night at Birch Meadow.

"I'm very happy with the result and for our senior class," said Reading head football coach John Fiore. "We set some goals early in the offseason and having a winning season was certainly one of them."

And, although Fiore didn't say so, it's safe to say that undefeated Reading (6-0, 3-0 Middlesex League) will be looking to reach far loftier heights before the year is over.

Junior tailback Tino Perrina rushed for three more touchdowns and 129 yards and fellow junior tailback Ryan Pollock added two more scores on the ground in another show of total domination by the Rockets. Equally impressive as an offense that churned out 340 yards and 40-plus points for the second straight week was a defense that allowed only one meaningless touchdown.

In the first half Somerville managed only two first downs and 49 yards of offense. Reading took a 20-0 lead at the break and it was obvious that the game was out of reach for the overmatched Highlanders (2-4).

"Don't let their record fool you," said Fiore, of Somerville. "They're a Greater Boston League team, they're pretty physical and they run the ball real well. I'm real happy with the way we played the run."

Although the Middlesex League is known for its pass-happy, spread offenses this season, the Highlanders came out in an unconventional double-wing set with no wide receivers and everyone packed in to run the ball.

Reading countered by putting five big bodies on its defensive line, including the usual suspects Andrew Edson, James Collins, Ryan Shea, Marc Gordon, and Bill Callahan, while 6-3, 261-pound offensive tackle Joe Prew was brought in for some added muscle up front.

On the opening drive of the game Somerville managed one first down, converting a fourth and inches at midfield on a sneak by quarterback Mike Stanton. But on the next play wingback Jeff Guzman fumbled after running into the line. Larry Gilligan recovered for the Rockets.

Reading then went on a seven-play, 51-yard drive to take a 6-0 lead. Quarterback Stan Andre completed a five-yard pass to favorite target Jim Queeney to convert a crucial fourth and three situation at the Somerville 44. After a false start set the Rockets back five yards, Andre found Perrina up the seam for a 41-yard pass all the way down to the Somerville three.

One play later Perrina powered in up the middle for a one-yard touchdown run. Daniel Bourque's kick missed but Reading had a 6-0 lead.

Aided by a tackle for a loss by Shea, the Rockets held Somerville to a three-and-out on its next possession, and a 10-yard punt return by Sean Gildea gave Reading good starting field position at its own 46.

On third and long, Andre connected with Queeney on a middle screen-a play that has consistently resulted in huge yardage for the Rockets all season long-and Queeney raced 49 yards down to the Somerville five. One play later Perrina banged in his second touchdown from the one-yard line behind Prew, Edson, and center Alex DaMore to give Reading a 12-0 lead as the second quarter began.

Tackles by Pollock and Matt Crampton forced a second straight Somerville three-and-out. On a third and short at the Reading 37, Perrina darted through a hole and took off up the left sidelines for a 63-yard touchdown run. Andre's two point conversion pass to Perrina ballooned Reading's lead to 20-0.

The Rockets tried for another score in the final seven minutes of the half but a combination of penalties (the Rockets were flagged nine times for 85 yards on the night), a Kervin Edouard sack of Andre on a cornerback blitz, and an Andre interception kept the Rockets off the board.

"We're still plagued by penalties and we've got to clean it up," Fiore said.

But Reading regained its composure at the half and opened up the third quarter with its most impressive series of the night, moving 65 yards in just four plays to blow the game wide open at 28-0. Perrina got the drive started by ripping off a 25-yard run, and Pollock finished it up with an impressive 27-yard scamper in which he darted up the middle, made a tackler miss, cut to the right to avoid a linebacker, turned upfield, and dove across the goal line with a tackler on his back. Andre's two-point conversion pass in the corner of the end zone to 6-4 wide receiver Dan Kraft capped off the drive.

"We challenged our offensive line a little bit," Fiore said. "Somerville was probably the biggest and most physical team we've played yet. I'm very happy with the way we came out in the second half, and Pollock ripped off some great runs."

The Rockets added two more scores in the third quarter. The first was set up by an Edson sack of Stanton on fourth down, as the 11-yard loss gave Reading possession at the Somerville 19. One play later Pollock ran in for his second score of the night.

Reading's backups added a final score as Gilligan and quarterback Brian Bourque capitalized on another short field. Gilligan had a 20-yard run and Bourque scored on a one-yard keep up the middle for a 41-0 lead at the end of the third quarter.

The Rockets resume their ML schedule next Friday night when they host Woburn in the fifth straight home game for Reading (7 p.m.).

H.S. Football: Burlington 21, Winchester 8 (Oct. 20)
By Mark Nadeau

WOBURN — The hard work has always been there but the Burlington High football team finally got the results it was looking for in a 21-8 triumph over Winchester, Saturday night at WMHS Stadium.<p>The Red Devils took a 14-0 lead after one quarter and then caused the Sachem offense to flounder for much of the rest of the gain.<p>Burlington coach Shawn Maguire was looking for consistency from his team and it delivered, getting a balanced attack from quarterback Brendan Farley and running backs Sam Cummings and Shayne O'Neil, plus a defensive effort that produced five sacks and two fumble recoveries.<p>"The kids did a lot of good things tonight," said Maguire. "They played Burlington High football the way it's supposed to be played for 44 minutes. We were physical on defense, moved the ball well on offense and did all the little things you need to win."<p>While the Red Devils (1-2 ML, 1-5 overall) got their first win of the season, Winchester (0-4, 2-4) is still seeking its first Middlesex League victory and has now lost four in a row.<p>The Sachems' struggles were primarily on offense where quarterback Matt Mangano struggled to get untracked all night in both his running and passing games. The Devil defense seemed to anticipate his every move and his receivers had problems with dropped passes.<p>"We are what we are; we're young and hurt in some key spots," said Winchester coach Paul Sobolewski. "But we have no excuses. Burlington has been playing some great teams, just like we have, and they played better than us tonight."<p>The Red Devils got its offense going on its second drive, which began at their 45 following a Winchester punt.<p>Three straight carries by O'Neil yielded 22 yards and a first down in Sachem territory and a Farley nine-yard completion to Tim O'Meara gave Burlington a first down at the 24.<p>A 14-yard run by Sean Moran got the Devils into the red zone and three plays later Farley barged in from the one for the game's first touchdown. The first of three successful extra point tries by Ideen Chelanger put Burlington up, 7-0, with 4:36 left in the first quarter.<p>Each team went three and out after that but a 30-yard punt by Moran left Winchester pinned inside its 20 at the 18. A subsequent holding penalty put the Sachems back inside the 10 and two incomplete passes and a false start had punter Jay Sprague kicking out of the back of his end zone.<p>O'Meara caught Sprague's punt at the 32 and returned it 17 yards, setting up the Devils at the 15. On the first play of the drive, O'Neil swept around the left corner and skipped up the sideline and over the pylon for a touchdown and a 14-0 Burlington lead with still 21 seconds left in the opening quarter.<p>After getting no first downs in the first quarter, Winchester moved the ball well in the opening drive of the second. Wide receiver Nick Weber was on the receiving end of Mangano completions of 15 and eight yards and his fourth catch of the drive, on a fourth-and-four from the Burlington 41, went for five more yards and a first down.<p>A 15-yard completion got the Sachems into the red zone and knocking on the door for their first score. But on third down and seven from the 16, Mangano was forced to run for his life by the Burlington pass rush before finally getting sacked for a nine-yard loss by defensive tackle Brett Gilbert.<p>Mangano attempted to cut up inside on fourth and long but ended up having the ball knocked out of his hands. Defensive end Dinga Gwanyalla-Fokum recovered the fumble at the Devil 36.<p>Winchester moved into Devil territory on its last drive of the first half as well, as Mangano completed seven consecutive short passes to four different receivers, including Weber, James Hingston, Thoman and tight end Owen Davis. The highlight was a tremendous diving catch by Thoman that was good for 39 yards and set the Sachems up in Devil territory.<p>However, the drive became bogged down again once Winchester got down to the 30. Davis caught a pass for five yards on first down, but consecutive incompletions created a fourth-and-five, and a sack by Gwanyalla-Fokum thwarted Winchester once more.<p>Field position was an issue for the Sachems throughout the game and an illegal block on the opening kickoff of the second half had them pinned back on their seven.<p>But just like the previous two drives, Winchester was able to move the ball into Burlington's end, and again it was primarily through the air. The big play this time was a quick outlet pass to Hingston, who shrugged off his cover man and picked up 27 yards after the catch.<p>Mangano then had runs of eight and 12 yards to get the Sachems to the 35 before he fumbled on his third try. Sam Cummings recovered at the 35 with 7:09 left in the third quarter.<p>Burlington capitalized on the turnover to apply the game's knockout punch, a nine-play, 65-yard drive that ended with a touchdown and a 21-0 lead with 2:51 remaining in the third quarter.<p>The Devils used a combination of O'Neil and Cummings on the ground to pick up the first 13 yards before Farley completed a 10 yard pass to O'Meara to get into Winchester territory.<p>A nice open-field tackle by cornerback Joey Cleary forced the Devils to go for a fourth-and-one from the Sachem 34. Cummings burst through the middle of the Winchester defense and into the secondary, continuing on into the end zone.<p>Mangano had to leave the game, early in the fourth quarter, after getting his bell rung at the end of a 12-yard run down the right sideline.<p>Sprague entered the game as Mangano's replacement and was immediately faced with a fourth-and-five from his own 32. Sprague went to Weber (11-80) who continued his big night with a completion to the 41.<p>Winchester again moved down inside the Burlington 25, with Sprague completing three more passes before the Devil defense stood tall once more, stopping Sprague on three straight incompletions.<p>Sprague completed four more passes on the final drive of the game, the last a one-yard toss to Thoman in the left side of the end zone with 10 seconds left in the game.<p>"The only silver lining for us is that this gets us ready for the future," said Sobolewski, of Sprague's late-game work.<p>The Devils were able to get the winless-monkey off their backs and now can look forward to a successful remainder of the season.<p><B>Wakefield 21, Belmont 19</B><p>BELMONT - Martin Hyppolite has done plenty for the Wakefield Memorial High School football program with his legs over the last three seasons. Friday night at Harris Field, however, Hyppolite did a lot for Wakefield with his right foot.<p>Hyppolite preserved the Warriors' undefeated 5-0 record, and may have saved Wakefield's quest for a Middlesex League title, when he booted a 27-yard field goal with five seconds left to beat Belmont, 21-19, keeping the Warriors in a tie for first place in the ML at 4-0.<p>The Marauders, looking for a stunning third straight upset, were only a little under two minutes away from knocking off Wakefield when they held a 19-18 lead and possession of the ball at the Warriors' 45-yard line.<p>Wakefield middle linebacker Mike Holler forced a Belmont fumble, though, and senior defensive back Nick Dettorre fell on the ball.<p>The Warriors took over on their own 38 with 1:46 left and went 62 yards on 12 plays, capping it off with Hyppolite's field goal and touching off a wild celebration on the sideline. The Division 1 prospect's kick sailed right down the middle, dropping Belmont to 2-2 in the ML and to 2-4 overall.<p>