The first two weeks of the season did not go the way the Chelsea Pride Gladiator Division team planned, but the Pride unloaded the frustration of the back-to-back losses on an unfortunate Salem team on Sunday. Chelsea was superb on both sides of the ball as they roared to a 37-14 victory, the first ever for the newborn team.
“Our team still has yet to play its best for four quarters,” said head coach Gary May. “We showed how dominant we can be when we play a full half. If we could put two haves together, we would be the most unstoppable team in the conference. I truly believe that.”
The Pride’s defense set the tone for the game by creating nightmares for the Salem offense throughout the game. Brian Cedeno had an interception and nine tackles, while fellow linebacker Juan Recupero had a quarterback sack and two hurries. Moses Casado anchored the defensive line, shedding double and triple teams throughout the game to record several open field tackles, five of which resulted in a loss of yardage for Salem. Bano Ramandani forced the opposing linemen to make constant adjustments with a stellar game at noseguard, despite the fact that he was among the smallest players on the field.
The Pride also got outstanding secondary play from George Ramos, who shut down Salem’s top receiver after Chelsea was burned for some early passing plays.
For the offense, Juan Martinez had 120 rushing yards and a touchdown on fourteen carries. Josue Vilegas got the scoring started with a seven-yard touchdown run, and Juan Recupero provided a highlight-reel play when he rolled off of a pile-up and freed himself for a 46-yard dash to the endzone. The Pride also got a touchdown from Albie Alicea on a quarterback sneak.
The Gladiators expressed gratitude to the Winnisimmet Club on Shurtleff Street for donating cash and allowing the Pride to use their headquarters for their team dinner.
The Chelsea Pride also got a win from its Spartan Division team, which is now 3-0 after throttling Salem, 26-12. Carlito Vasquez led the way with a pair of touchdowns, one coming on a 45-yard rush and the other on a 26-yard run later in the game. Alex Rodriguez reached the endzone after a 24-yard run that gave him his sixth touchdown of the year. Victor Rivera capped the scoring with a 12-yard run.
Max Elgart helped the team on both sides, playing outstanding defense and kicking two extra points. The Pride’s running backs were given plenty of openings to run by an offensive line that was led by Kingsley Umemba and Raphael Amaro.
“That Salem team we just played was very well coached and don’t be surprised if we see them again in the playoffs,” said head coach Gene Tyler.
In the Crusader Division, the Chelsea Pride lost to Salem, 31-14, but showed a significant improvement over the previous week. Mekhi Collins, who has been a standout throughout the season, had another strong showing with a pair of touchdowns to go with ten tackles on defense. The Pride also got major contributions from Cartier Mouscardy, who anchored the offensive line with his play at the center position.
Last but not least, the Titan Division team lost a 21-20 decision to Salem to fall to 2-1. Josh Vasquez scored a pair of touchdowns, and Adam Kantarevic sprinted into the endzone on a 41-yard quarterback sneak. Jaryd Benson was a force on defense with three quarterback sacks.
Each of the four Chelsea Pride teams will play this Sunday at Hurd Stadium in Beverly against the Panthers 1 team. Chelsea’s Gladiators lost to the Panthers 2 squad last week, but Sunday will be the first game against any Beverly team for the rest of the Pride.
In other youth sports news, Chelsea Pop Warner’s football teams all enjoyed a bye week last weekend, but the league is eagerly anticipating this Saturday’s Greater Boston League Cheerleading Competition at Peabody High. The Junior Red Devils’ C team will be attempting to capture the GBL C Division title for the second year in a row. They will compete at 1 p.m. under the guidance of head coach Miriam Berrios, while the Chelsea D squad will compete at 7 p.m. under head coach Beatrice Rodriguez. The A team, led by head coach and assistant cheering director Elaina Camacho, will also compete on Saturday, but their time slot has yet to be announced.