Cathedral’s Prayers Are Answered: Chelsea is Eliminated from the Playoffs in a Last-minute Heartbreaker, 12-10

The Chelsea High football team learned the hard way the truth of the age old maxim, “It isn’t over ‘til it’s over.”

For almost the entire game in their Division 4A semifinal playoff contest with Cathedral High Tuesday evening at Reading, the Chelsea High football team played nearly perfect football.

The CHS defense had played solidly against an undefeated, 11-0 Cathedral squad that had scored more than 40 points on four occasions and more than 30 in three others en route to outscoring their opponents by an average score of 31-8 and capturing the Central Catholic Conference championship.

Although the Red Devils did not enjoy much success on offense against the Cathedral defense, they generated just enough, a 76 yard scamper by Juan Martinez in the second period and a field goal by Martinez in the fourth frame (Juan also kicked the PAT after his TD run), to hold what seemed to be a comfortable 10-0 lead as the clock wound down through the final part of the fourth and final period.

But then, just as their Super Bowl dreams appeared ready to become reality, the Red Devils saw it all fade away in the final minutes. Cathedral finally broke through for a score with 1:39 to play to close the gap to 10-6. The ensuing Red Devil possession produced nothing more than a three-and-out, but with only 13 seconds on the clock, a successful Chelsea punt from the CHS 35 would appear to be sufficient to send the Red Devils on their way to the Division 4A Super Bowl Saturday morning at Bentley , the first for a CHS squad since1995.

Indeed, the punt was successful, driving Cathedral return man Edward Bermudez back to his 30 yard line. But so too, was Bermudez’s return. Although at 5-6 and 170 pounds, Bermudez may have been the smallest player in the Cathedral roster, which featured some big boys, he made the biggest play of the game, taking the pigskin all the way to the end zone as time expired to give Cathedral a win that was as exhilarating for the Warriors as it was devastating for the Red Devils.

Red Devils were flawless in 42-22 Turkey Day romp

The Chelsea High  School football team earned its first Commonwealth Athletic Conference title in 16 years and clinched a berth in the MIAA state playoffs with a dominating 42-22 victory over Matignon on Thanksgiving Day at Dilboy Field in Somerville.

The Red Devils entered the game with their championship and playoff destinies in their own hands. Chelsea was tied with Greater Lowell and North Shore Tech for first place in the CAC Small Division, but under the complicated point system used as a tiebreaker, the Red Devils were ahead. However, they still needed a victory over Matignon to clinch the division crown.

Matignon on paper stacked up as a worthy foe on Turkey Day, but the Red Devils feasted on their opponents on both sides of the ball from the opening kickoff. After Matignon started at  at its own 10 yard line on the opening kick thanks to great coverage by the Chelsea kickoff team, the Warriors drove all the way to the CHS  20.

However, the first of several costly miscues by Matignon turned the momentum in Chelsea’s favor.  A Matignon fumble was recovered by junior linebacker David Roque and two plays later, senor running back Hector Rivera burst for a 41 yard jaunt for a touchdown. Juan Martinez popped the PAT over the cross bar for a 7-0 Chelsea  lead.

After Matignon started at its own 20 and soon punted, the Red Devils put together another great drive and eventually scored on a 19 yard pass from junior quarterback Steven Dwyer to senior tight end Rony Gomez. Another Martinez PAT kick made it 14-0 after one quarter.

The Red Devils kept the pedal to the metal in the second period. The Chelsea defense once again stopped Matignon deep in its own territory, forcing a punt. However, the snap sailed  over the Warrior punter’s head and out of the endzone for a safety to make it 16-0.

Rivera hauled in the Matignon punt after the safety and made a great return. Three nice runs by Martinez, Raul Flores, and Jo Jo Saez moved the ball to the edge of the endzone, from when quarterback  Dwyer snuck in. Martinez’s third PAT of the day made it a 23-0 ballgame.

When the Chelsea defense forced another Matignon three and out, Rivera turned the contest into an official rout with a 68 yard runback. Juan M’s fourth PAT kick made it a 30-0 affair.

The Red devil defense continued to do all the right things and make the big plays. Flores picked off a Matignon pass at the Warrior  25 yard line, setting up the Chelsea offense for another TD on a 13 yard run by Anthony Arroyo for a commanding 36-0 lead at the half.

Chelsea received the ball after an onsides kick at its own 45 and Rivera applied the coup de grace with a 51 yard jaunt to up the margin to 42-0.

At that point CHS head coach Mike Stellato brought in his reserves. Matignon scored three times in the late stages of the game, but by then the Red Devils already were celebrating  their big win and their CAC title.

“We played very well in all phases of the game,” said Stellato, who noted the fine play of  offensive linemen David Roque, Juan Figueroa, Peter Vo, Kevin Diaz, and Otoniel Suero, which opened up huge holes for the Red Devil ballcarriers, and on defense,: Rony Gomez, Raul Flores, Jose Romero Jr.,  and Jose Martinez.

Rivera put up a career game numbers, with 227 total yards, three touchdowns, and 159 yards from scrimmage on just six carries.

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