The Chelsea High football team powered its way to a come-from-behind, 40-30 victory over Mystic Valley High Saturday afternoon at Malden Catholic Stadium. The victory was the second straight for the Red Devils, who now stand at 2-2 on the season and 1-0 in their division of the Commonwealth Athletic Conference thanks to the win.
“The shootout at the O.K. Corral,” was the apt description by CHS head coach Mike Stellato of the see-saw affair that saw both teams display their offensive firepower from the opening kickoff, as they traded punches and counterpunches throughout the afternoon. However, in the end it was Chelsea that emerged on top at the final whistle.
A preview of coming attractions for the fans in attendance came at the outset of the contest as Mystic Valley took the opening kickoff, drove 80 yards for a touchdown, and scored the two point conversion for an early 8-0 lead.
However, as Stellato’s Red Devils would demonstrate all day, they remained undaunted and unfazed by whatever MV threw at them. Chelsea took the ensuing kickoff and stormed right back with a scoring drive that took just six plays and was capped by Jordan Virella’s 18 yard TD pass to Sammy Mojica. The PAT by Juan Martinez made it an 8-7 affair.
Mystic Valley then committed the first of many decisive turnovers by both teams, coughing up the ball on their own 35 where Red Devil lineman Kevin DeJesus, who had two fumble recoveries last week, pounced on the loose pigskin.
Virella directed the offense in short order toward the MV goal line and Chris Acosta plunged in from one yard out to make it a 13-8 contest by the end of the first quarter.
The Chelsea defense stiffened at the start of the second period, forcing MV to punt. The Red Devils took over at their own 45 and with Virella once again directing the attack, they marched downfield. Virella punched it in this time from two yards out and Martinez’s kick upped the score to 20-8.
MV still proved unable to duplicate its opening drive success and gambled on fourth and two at its own 40. However, the CHS defense held firm and Virella and Company came in looking to apply the kill. But it was the Red Devils’ turn to commit a costly turnover, a fumble, giving MV a chance to get back into the game before the intermission. MV indeed took advantage of the opportunity and went in for the touchdown and the two point conversion to leave matters at 20-16 as the teams went into the locker room.
“Our fumble and their score changed the momentum at that time,” noted Stellato, whose team saw a potential 28-8 advantage melt into a slim 20-16 edge.
The game further seemed to be eluding the Devils’ grasp when a another damaging turnover on their opening drive of the third period resulted in an MV 70 yard interception return for a touchdown. Thus, within a matter of just minutes on the clock, a 12 point Chelsea lead had turned into a two point deficit, 22-20.
The contest went from bad to worse from a Chelsea perspective when the heretofore potent Red Devil offense momentarily stalled and MV regained its offensive touch, leading to another MV venture into the endzone and a 30-20 hole for Chelsea.
However, at this point the Red Devils dug deep. Upon getting the ball back, Chelsea launched a drive that was capped by a four yard TD burst by Acosta for his second TD of the game to bring Chelsea within three, 30-27.
The Red Devils now had shifted the momentum back to their side. The defense seized the moment and once again stopped MV to force a punt. However, the snap from center sailed over the MV punter’s head, giving Chelsea the ball deep in MV territory. Four plays later Troy Crossley rambled in from 11 yards out and the Devils had regained the lead, 33-27.
Still, there was a lot of time left on the clock and with the potent offenses both teams were displaying, the game was up for grabs. But once again the Chelsea D held firm and forced an MV punt, with the Red Devils taking over at their own 20. Martinez then got the handoff and took off with an electrifying 80 yard jaunt to pay dirt that put the game away.
Many Red Devils enjoyed banner days in the offensive department. Virella went 8 for 15 for 174 yards and the TD; Mojica had five of those receptions for 110 yards and the TD; and Martinez ran for 110 yards on five carries, plus kicked four PATs to go along with his touchdown.
Crossley was a force on both sides of the ball, rushing for 78 yards on eight carries, while on defense he was a terror with five tackles, four assists on tackles, and an interception.
Other members of the Red & Black defense who shone were DeJesus, who was credited with five tackles and three assists to go along with his fumble recovery, and Martinez, who had five tackles and three assists from his defensive back post.
“The defense bent, but it didn’t break,” noted Stellato, who also cited the fine play of linebacker Joseph Saez and defensive end Rony Gomez. “Mystic Valley is a very good team and features a stellar running back in Alex Arredondo, but we made the big plays and stops when we had to.
“Our team showed a lot of character,” added the coach, whose squad reached 40 points for the second straight week. “We never quit and maintained a positive attitude even when we fell behind by 10 points.”
Stellato and his crew will play their first official home game of the season when they host Shawsheen Tech under the lights at Chelsea Stadium Friday evening. Kick off time is 7:00.