Red Devils celebrate Turkey Day with 36-0 victory over Matignon
The Chelsea High football team put an exclamation point on its 2016 campaign with a 36-0 victory over Matignon on Thanksgiving Day morning at Chelsea Stadium.
The contest started inauspiciously for the Red Devils. Matignon took the opening kickoff and went on a long, methodical drive of 15 plays that covered 57 yards and ate up the first 10 minutes — almost the entire first quarter — of the game.
Matignon’s biggest play of the drive was a 14-yard gain on a reverse to their wideout. Chelsea called a timeout to regroup when Matignon made a first down at the CHS 10 yard line.
However, the Red Devil defense rose to the challenge and stuffed three consecutive runs by the Warriors and then, on fourth-and-goal from the six, junior linebacker Nelson Hernandez tipped a slant pass over the middle to break up a would-be touchdown, turning the ball over to Chelsea for its first possession of the game.
Despite having their backs against their own goal line, the Red Devils proceeded to march down the field against the Matignon defense. The drive, which ended early in the second quarter, covered the 94 yards in just seven plays and was capped by a 16 yard TD run by CHS senior captain Nick Ieng.
CHS offensive coordinator Jaime Delverde then called the “offensive lineman’s dream play” – a hook and ladder from the wide receiver — on which senior right tackle Jacob Gebru caught a lateral from senior wide receiver Gabe Barragan and dashed the three yards into the end zone to make it 8-0.
“During the weeks prior to the game, the coaches discussed who we wanted to get a chance to score. We wanted to get seniors who had yet to score a touchdown into the end zone,” said CHS head coach Jack Halas. “Coach Delverde suggested the play, and being a former offensive lineman myself, it was easy to agree.”
The Chelsea defense forced a three-and-out on Matignon’s ensuing possession, which started at the Warrior 46, and the Red Devils took over at their own 24 yard line.
The CHS offense immediately went to work, gashing the Matignon defensive front for a nice gain on a run by Zach Leo for 12 yards. However, two plays later the Red Devils fumbled and Matignon recovered at the Chelsea 43.
The Chelsea defense responded well when senior Ky Che sacked the Warrior quarterback on second down for a six yard loss and Matignon was forced to punt after another three-and-out.
Chelsea took over at its own 23, but could not move the ball and punted after a three-and-out, with Matignon starting at its own 37 with about a minute left in the first half.
When outside linebacker Ky Che tossed the Matignon ballcarrier on first down for a three yard loss, Halas decided not to be content with his team’s 8-0 lead and called a timeout.
“One of the luxuries of Massachusetts high school football is you get five timeouts per half,” said Halas. “We figured if we got a stop on first down, we would use them and try to squeeze in one more possession before halftime.”
Matignon’s next play saw David Bui, Leo, and a host of Red Devil defenders stuff a run to the Chelsea right. On third down Leo sniffed out a perimeter screen pass and Matignon was forced to punt.
That kick placed the ball in the hands of Chelsea’s ace return man, Ieng, and the CHS captain dashed 52 yards to the Matignon five yard line with 17 seconds remaining in the half.
The Red Devils wasted no time in taking advantage of the big opportunity, as quarterback Luis Jimenez connected on a pass to Barragan for the score. “Gabe made an excellent play to beat the Matignon cornerback,” noted Halas. “He high-pointed the ball and managed to get his foot down for the touchdown. It was an outstanding play.”
Ieng rushed for the two-point conversion to provide the Red Devils with both the momentum and a nice 16-0 advantage as the teams headed off the field at the half.
The Chelsea specials team unit continued to make a decisive impact when Bui received the opening kickoff after the intermission and raced 71 yards to pay dirt. Senior lead blockers Bryan Rivas and Ieng made crucial blocks to spring Bui loose.
“David’s kickoff return was just what we needed to open-up the game,” said Halas.
The remainder of the third period proved to be a defensive struggle, with neither offense able to mount a drive and both turning the ball over on downs near midfield.
The final period began with the Chelsea “D” stopping Matignon on fourth down at the Warrior 34. Four plays later, Jimenez made it around the edge of the Matignon left side for a 16 yard TD run. When senior guard Che, who lined up in the backfield, rushed for the two-point conversion, the Red Devils were fully in command, 30-0.
The ensuing kickoff was mishandled by Matignon and Chelsea took over at the Matignon 46. It was then that the Red Devil second offensive unit got their turn to play. Though the drive went three-and-out, resulting in a Chelsea punt, Matignon fumbled the punt return with Red Devil Nelson Hernandez pouncing on the loose pigskin on the Matignon 23.
Two plays later, Ieng scampered into the end zone for the 36-0 final score.
“I let the kids know I am extremely proud of how they chose to finish the season,” said Halas, whose team won four of their final six games. “We started 0-5 and it would have been easy to quit. Some did. But the group of guys who stayed are some tough Chelsea kids. We talked before Halloween how we were going to finish the season strong for the seniors. They deserved that.
“The younger kids bought in and played for them,” continued Halas. “I am very happy with the manner in which the seniors went out in their final game. Most will never play football again, but I think they will remember today – that’s what we wanted to accomplish.”
The holiday contest also was highlighted by Senior Day festivities for the members of the Class of 2017. Seven seniors — Gabriel Barragan, Ky Che, Jacob Gebru, captain Nick Ieng, Luis Jimenez, Bryan Rivas, and Kevin Ruiz (who was out of action with an injury) — were honored before the start of the game. Following the ceremony, Ieng stood in front of the large Thanksgiving Day crowd to sing the National Anthem.
“I didn’t realize Nick could sing, but knowing Nick, it really isn’t a surprise,” noted Halas.
by Bob Morello
“The Tradition” honorees include Bruins great
Tuesday night marked the Sports Museum’s 15th ‘The Tradition’. Honorees included female boxer Laila Ali, former Patriot quarterback Drew Bledsoe, former Red Sox pitcher Bill Lee, former Celtic Shaquille O’Neal, and four members of The One Fund Boston team (the late Mayor Tom Menino, Jim Gallagher, Mike Sheehan and Jack Connors). For Bruins fans the highlight was the introduction of Wayne Cashman. He enjoyed a 17-year career with the Black and Gold, and was just one of four men who’ve played 1,000 games for the Bruins. Cashman joined Phil Esposito and Kenny Hodge to form the highest scoring line in hockey. Cashman was never afraid to mix it up, and he also packed a scoring touch with 20 goals 8 times in his career. He retired in 1983 as the last active player from the Original Six team league. He was the quintessential Boston Bruin. Some of his teammates were in attendance at The Tradition, and each one had a ‘Cash story’ to tell.
Cashman’s pre-event interview offered an insight to the popular Bruins who identified with the popular Beatles song… “Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da,” due to their rollicking, fun-filled style of play. Cashman explained, “My big thing was seeing our team come together from the ‘60s, the team that Milt (Schmidt) built and Harry (Sinden) coached. Then we won our first Stanley Cup that they hadn’t won in years, and how close that team was and how even today, after all they years later, the guys are still pretty close. That was a great feeling, winning the Stanley Cup here in Boston.” When asked about his coaching positions following his playing days, Cashman responded, “I enjoyed being an assistant coach working with the players directly, I wasn’t into the overall planning of games and that, even though I did it – I enjoyed more working with individual players, talking about things they wanted to improve on. That part of the game I like. I worked with Roger Neilson twice, once in Philadelphia and once in New York. He was quite a character and a very smart man when it comes to hockey, said he liked my looseness to go with his tightness, said it was a good match. We got along well and had a lot of fun together, I miss him, and we were very, very close.” In comparing players from his era and today he explained, “The fitness of the players now is incredible, and the teaching and instruction they get when they are young is great. I saw a picture today of Gump Worsley (NHL goalie), and he barely came to the height of the crossbar, then I saw a picture of one of today’s goalies, and he stood about three feet above the bar. The goalies of today are fit, and much bigger, the instruction they get is better, and their equipment is bigger, and the condition of today’s players is better. Cashman is enjoying his retirement doing lots of fishing at various locations, and traveling as well.
Terry O’Reilly recollected: “We were out on the West Coast in a bar after the game drinking, and it’s getting near closing time. Then Gregg Sheppard all of a sudden couldn’t find his wallet – he said my wallet’s gone, somebody took my wallet. Cash picks a steak knife up off the bar, turns and there’s a big wooden door – he fires the knife overhand and it sticks into the door – and says, Nobody leaves until we find Shep’s wallet – just like an old cowboy. Only to find that Sheppard had left his wallet sitting on the bar – luckily no one was coming through the door when he threw the knife”
Line mate Phil Esposito recounted, “I remember one time in Buffalo, Cash was in the corner fighting for the puck with a couple of guys trying to get it, and we had a rule – when Cash went in the corner, I would go to the hash mark and Hodgie (Kenny Hodge) goes to the side of the net so in case he come around behind the net – Cash said leave me alone in the corner, we said no problem. Now he goes in the corner, but another guy goes in it, so I go in the corner with Cash. And as I go in Cash puts the puck in the slot, just then Gil Perrault (Buffalo) was winding up and he goes whizzing by and blasts one by Cheesie (Gerry Cheevers). We go back to the bench and Cash is red, and I look at him and I said I’m sorry man, I’m sorry. He said if you ever come in my corner again – I will kill you, I will kill you… I said no problem. That was typical Wayne (Cashman).”
Teammate Ray Bourque remembered, “It was the first day I was in Boston in early August with Brad McCrimmon and we stopped into Harry Sinden’s office, we were supposed to meet the press. Cash walked into the office and decided to take us to lunch at The Fours. We had a 3:30 flight, but we never made that flight we flew back the next day. Cash had some good stories and kept us her and had us play softball with the rest of the Bruins. I got to know Cash pretty quick that day, and how much of a character he was and the kind of heart he had and I knew he was going to be a lot of fun to play with and I was gonna learn a lot from him. He was a great captain and had a great career.”
Finally, Ricky Middleton delivered his impressions, “Cash was always my favorite, Bruin, and I don’t think he knows that. I just loved the guy from the time that I got to Boston until the last year when he was retiring. He was the captain of the Bruins after Chief (Johnny Bucyk) and before Terry (O’Reilly). The one story that I remember vividly is the first day I got here, traded by the Rangers in May of 1976. I spent the summer in Long Island, then I drove up to Fitchburg, MA for training camp in September. I checked into the Holiday Inn and I checked in and I’m walking to my room, and I walked by this room where the door is open and I hear… Hey! It was Wayne sitting there with his cowboy boots on, drinking a beer. He said come on in, he always talked like John Wayne. So I go in there and about three or four beers later I’m thinking… I haven’t even made it to my room yet, this is training camp. I’m gonna love this man, and in the next two years we made it to the Finals”