The Chelsea High football team will be shooting to clinch a berth in the MIAA post season football playoffs when the Red Devils travel to Dilboy Stadium in Somerville to take on Matignon High School on Thanksgiving morning. Kick-off time for the contest is 10:15.
Chelsea stands at 5-4 overall on the season and finished with a 2-1 record in the Small Division of the Commonwealth Athletic Conference, which placed the Red Devils in a three way tie for first place with Greater Lowell and North Shore Tech.
The CAC’s rules call for a point system, which is far too complicated to explain here, as a tiebreaker to determine the division champion. Thanks to two victories over CAC Large Division foes Greater Lawrence and Shawsheen, Chelsea presently leads Greater Lowell by a 13 point margin, 108-95. (No. Shore Tech is out of contention.)
Points also are awarded for victories against non-league rivals (in this case, Matignon, which plays in the Catholic Central Small Conference), so if Chelsea wins on Thanksgiving Day, the Red Devils will win the league title and claim the playoff berth regardless of what Greater Lowell does in its Turkey Day tilt against Shawsheen.
Chelsea also gets in if both the Red Devils and Greater Lowell lose. However, if the Red Devils lose and Gr. Lowell wins, Gr. Lowell will be the titlist.
Thursday morning’s matchup with Matignon figures to be a tough battle for CHS head coach Mike Stellato and his crew. Matignon stands at 4-5 on the season with wins over Bishop Connolly (14-12), Trinity Catholic (45-6), Marian (8-2), and Lowell Catholic (50-19). The Warriors’ losses came to Minuteman Regional (30-12), Dorchester (14-8), St. Clement’s (28-26), Pope John Paul II (36-24), Cathedral (44-20), and Pope John XXIII (30-18).
Trinity Catholic was the lone opponent in common this season with Chelsea, which also handily defeated Trinity in a runaway, 41-0. However, Trinity is winless on the season and lost all of its games by large margins, so it serves little use as a means for judging the favorite or underdog in the Chelsea vs. Matignon contest.
Matignon’s top scorers this season have been running back Owen Bullock with eight touchdowns and wide receiver Jon Barry, who has scored seven TDs and made plays on both sides of the ball. The Warriors feature a senior quarterback in John Flaherty who has had some nice games this season.
However, depth is a problem for Matignon as is indicated by the many high scoring games they have allowed to some of their opponents.
The Red Devils have had an up and down season. After losing to Lynn Tech in the season opener (32-8), the Red Devils won three straight over Trinity (41-0), Greater Lawrence (10-6), and Shawsheen (26-14). Then came the tough loss to Greater Lowell (16-9) and another defeat to Whittier (34-9). The Red Devils bounced back for a 21-0 triumph over Mystic Valley; fell to Northeast Regional, 14-3; and topped No. Shore 14-6 to create the three way tie for first place in the CAC Small.
Chelsea features a trio of outstanding running backs led by Juan Martinez, the team’s leading scorer with 59 points on seven touchdowns, two field goals, nine PAT kicks, and one two pont conversion. He is complemented by fellow backs Hector Rivera and Raul Flores, both of whom have had some brilliant moments this season.
Junior quarterback Steven Dwyer has done a fine job at the helm of the CHS offense in his first year and figures to play a key role in the contest.
Although the weather forecast calls for heavy rain on Wednesday, it is expected to clear up by the holiday. Dilboy Field has a new turf surface, so field conditions should not be a factor.
However, as is always the case in football at any level, turnovers, penalties, and mistakes most likely will prove to be the difference in the final outcome.
If Chelsea wins and earns the playoff bid, the Red Devils will face undefeated Cathedral, champ of the Catholic Central Small, in the Division 4A semifinals on Tuesday at a time and place to be determined. The winner of that contest will face the winner of the other semifinal, which most likely will be Blue Hills Regional vs. East Boston, in the D-4A Super Bowl next Saturday.