The Chelsea High football team will take part in the MIAA’s new football playoff format when the Red Devils travel to Dilboy Stadium in Somerville Saturday evening to take on St. Clement’s, the champion of the Small Division of the Catholic Conference. Kick off time is set for 7:00 p.m.
The Red Devils qualified for the first-ever Mass. high school football tourney by virtue of their second place finish in the Small Division of the Commonwealth Athletic Conference. Chelsea tied with Minuteman in the standings, but earned the nod thanks to their victory over the Minutemen during the season.
Chelsea concluded their pre-playoff schedule Friday night, dropping a 13-6 contest to Lynn Tech under the lights at Chelsea Stadium. The Red Devils took the opening kickoff and drove to the Tech 10 yard line, only to be foiled on fourth down. However, two series later, Chelsea was back in business when Lucas DeOliveira pounced on a Tech fumble at the Tech 15. Five plays after that, Kalvin Durant went in from two yards out to give the Red Devils 6-0 lead.
Chelsea threatened to put some more points up on the board near the end of the quarter with another drive deep into Tech territory, but a field goal attempt came up short. That would prove to be the apogee of the Red Devils’ evening as their failure to capitalize on those early scoring opportunities would come back to haunt the Chelsea crew.
Tech scored just before the intermission to take a 7-6 lead into the locker room. The Techmen then received the opening kickoff of the second half and chewed up 10:43 of the clock in the third period on a 17 play scoring drive to move out to a 13-6 advantage.
Chelsea threatened to score late in the game, but the Devils’ final offensive possession ended at the Tech 40 with 1:37 to play.
“We had opportunities in the first quarter that we wish we had back that we didn’t capitalize on,” said CHS head coach Mike Stellato. “The third quarter was huge with us not having a possession and Tech scoring. Give Tech credit for that.”
The coach cited the fine defensive line play of junior defensive tackle Adrial Rodriguez, senior defensive tackle Luis Valles, and senior defensive tackle Yardley Lemus.
With their regular season behind them, the Red Devils now will concentrate on St. Clement’s, its first round foe in the football state tourney. “We need to move forward and prepare for a very good St Clement’s team,” said Stellato. The team shared a common opponent in the 2013 campaign in Mystic Valley. St. Clem’s pummeled MV, 53-16, in the first game of the season for both, while Chelsea posted a 19-0 shutout midway through the year. Given that St. Clement’s has scored 40 or more points in four of its contests, it is fair to say that the CHS defense will be tested when the teams line up for the opening kickoff at 7:00 Saturday night.
The winner will advance in the tourney, while the loser will face a foe from the loser’s side of the bracket. Those opponents and locations will not be known until Sunday night.
Red Devil soccer team awaits tourney opponent
The Chelsea High boys soccer team, which punched its ticket for a Journey to the Tourney early in the season, was awaiting word of its seeding and first round opponent in the Division 2 North Sectional of the MIAA state soccer tournament this week. Announcement of the tourney pairings was expected to come yesterday (Wednesday) or today.
The Red Devils prepped for the tourney with their final regular season contest against non-league rival Hudson, which made the long trek from Central Mass. to Chelsea Stadium Monday.
“We didn’t know much about them, but they were a big, strong, and physical team of the sort we’re likely to face in the tournament,” said CHS assistant coach Evan Protasowicki. “It was good test for us and good preparation for the tournament.”
The contest ended in a nil-nil deadlock. The teams battled evenly in the opening half, but the Red Devils had the better of the play over the second 40-minute span. Chelsea’s Anthony Ortiz had a clear chance in the final minute to score the potential winning goal, but the Hudson keeper made a superb save to preserve the tie.
In their final CAC contest of the season, the Red Devils came out on the short end of a 3-1 decision with archrival Northeast Regional Vocational School last week. Chelsea, which had topped Northeast in their first meeting this year, already had clinched the CAC Large Division crown, with Northeast the second place finisher.
But with the Red Devils coming out flat — perhaps because of the lack of incentive — and Northeast fired up, the final 3-1 score in Northeast’s favor was not all that surprising. “We had a good week of practice, but our heads just were not in it,” said Protasowicki. “Northeast is a good team and we couldn’t get into a rhythm.”
Sophomore Julio Molina scored the lone Chelsea goal late in the second half to break the Northeast shutout bid. However, beyond the loss, the contest proved a costly one for the Red Devils in the injury department. Senior fullback Jaime Barahina injured his knee and is on crutches; senior midfielder Thoai Nguyen injured his shoulder which caused him to miss the Hudson game; and junior defender Josue Ramirez was forced from the game with an injury, though he did play against Hudson. They join star senior halfback Michael Kottu, who has been out of action for the past month with a separated shoulder, on the sidelines, though Michael possibly may play in the tourney.
With their superb overall record of 12-2-4, head coach Mick Milutinovic and his crew undoubtedly will have a high seeding and a home game in the first round of the tourney and maybe more if they advance.
Cruz is Player of Year; four named CAC all-stars
Post-season accolades poured in for the Chelsea High boys soccer team this week, headed by senior captain Luis Cruz, who earned an All-Scholastic nod from the Boston Herald. Cruz was the leading scorer in the Commonwealth Athletic Conference this season and also was named the league’s Most Valuable Player.
Cruz was joined on the CAC all-star team by four teammates: Fellow senior captain Jaime Barahona, a fullback; senior Michael Kottu, a halfback; junior Josue Ramirez, a fullback; and junior captain Wilbur Tejada, a halfback.
Becerra earns all-star nod at CAC Meet
Lady Red Devil Wendy Becerra finished 11th overall in the Large School race of the Commonwealth Athletic Conference All-League Cross Country Meet that was held Saturday at Greater Lowell and was awarded all-star status for her effort. Becerra’s time of 22:58 over the 5K course (3.1 miles) was more than four minutes faster than her clocking at last year’s league meet.
“Wendy is a tough, gritty runner,” said CHS head coach Don Fay. “She doesn’t have a long stride or much speed, but what she lacks, she makes up in hard work and tenacity.” Becerra will be running the weekend of November 9th in the Division 2 state class meet in Wrentham.
Teammate Eva Hernandez finished in 33rd place in 25:29, followed by senior captain Yessenia Motta in 37th spot in 26:27, Melanie Nguyen in 39th in 26:28, and senior captain Katherine Villagran, who finished the scoring for the Lady Red Devils in 54th position. The CHS girls finished in sixth place with 149 points.
On the boys’ side, senior Biruk Mulaw was the top finisher, coming across the line in 15th place in 19:13. Jay Pedrero was 18th in 19:27, followed by Sam Hernandez (21st) in 19:35, Brian Horn (22nd) in 19:41, and Luis Maradiago two spots behind in 19:44. Elvin Rivera in 29th place and Jeffrey Estrada in 30th finished up the scoring for the Red Devils.
The Red Devils finished in fifth place with 100 points. “We had a really close pack today, with our first five runners within 31 seconds of each other,” noted Fay. “Our goal for next year is to be 30-45 seconds quicker individually so that we can compete for a league title.”
All of the Red Devils, along with Joseph Chirinos (who was seventh in the JV race in 19:47) will be running at Wrentham on November 9th in the D-2 state meet.