CHS football team falls short in 37-26 shootout
The Chelsea High football team put together its best performance of the season on offense, but came up short in a 37-26 loss at Whittier Tech Saturday.
Despite yielding a touchdown on Whittier’s fourth play from scrimmage — a 70 yard run that left the Red Devils in an early 8-0 hole — the CHS grid men battled hard thereafter, matching Whittier blow-for-blow through the fourth period.
“Whittier surprised us in the first possession by going to a spread quad WR formation,” said CHS head coach Jack Halas. “They have been a traditional single or double-wing team for the past decade or so. We prepared all week to defend the double wing, so our boys were a little confused early on. I told the team after the game that the first TD we gave up was on me. I did not have them prepared well enough to be able to quickly adjust to the different look we were getting. Once the second defensive possession came around, we played better.”
The Red Devils bounced back on their ensuing possession with a methodical drive that took 15 plays and gained 53 yards. However, the end result had Whittier taking over on downs.
“Our kids have really been focusing on just keeping the ball moving forward and avoiding the negative plays,” said Halas, “and we had some success in our first drive even though we did not score.
The CHS defense held firm on Whittier’s next possession — forcing Whittier to turn the ball over on downs — and once again the Chelsea offense went back to work, driving 47 yards to the Whittier four-yard line.
However, frustration once again was the watchword for the Chelsea offense, which was unable to punch the ball into the endzone.
“Not scoring a TD there after putting together our second consecutive successful offensive drive hurt us,” noted Halas. “We simply have to come away with a TD once we get it down deep in the red area.”
The CHS defense responded by forcing Whittier to punt, giving Chelsea excellent field position at the Whittier 38 yard line. However, on the first offensive snap Chelsea fumbled the handoff, turning the ball back over to Whittier. Though it was disappointing to squander the opportunity, the Red Devils showed some strong resiliency by playing some excellent defense in the following series.
Just six plays after the fumbled handoff, senior captain Nick Ieng intercepted a Whittier pass and returned it 65 yards for a touchdown to slice the Whittier lead at 8-6 with 1:30 left in the half.
However, Whittier regained the momentum before the intermission by scoring on a 55 yard in six plays that culminated on a bit of a fluky-style play when the Whittier quarterback tossed up a jump-ball into the end zone from 18 yards out in the final six seconds.
Red Devil junior linebacker David Bui had perfect coverage and appeared to have made the play when he tipped the ball, but the Whittier receiver dove and made a fine catch just before the ball hit the ground, leaving matters at 16-6 as the teams headed into the locker room.
“We had good coverage and we got a hand on the ball, but the Whittier kid just made a great play,” said Halas. “What can you do? Tough, but the game must go on.”
Indeed, Halas’s crew shrugged off the turn of events and took the opening kickoff of the second half and marched 72 yards for a touchdown. The big play was a 70 yard pass completion from CHS quarterback T.J. Patterson to senior Ellinson Cruz, who was stopped at the Whittier two yard line. Patterson then went in for the TD to make it a 16-14 contest.
The teams then engaged in an offensive show, taking turns lighting up the scoreboard. Whittier went on a six-play, 55-yard TD drive to go up 24-14 midway through the third quarter, but the Red Devils responded with their own 12-play, 72-yard scoring assault that was capped by a Patterson-to-Bryan Rivas 35 yard TD pass.
With the score now at 24-20 to start the fourth quarter, Chelsea attempted an onside-kick that failed, giving Whittier the ball on the CHS 38 yard line.
“I felt like our kids were playing their hearts out,” said Halas. “They were mentally tough and resilient thus far. I wanted to capitalize on our momentum and go in for the knockout punch with the onside kick, but it didn’t work.”
Six plays later, Whittier had reached the CHS end zone for a 30-20 advantage.
Midway through the fourth quarter, Chelsea once again was moving the football when Patterson was crunched by a blindside blitz, knocking the ball free.
A Whittier player scooped up the loose pigskin and scampered 48 yards to paydirt.
Chelsea added a late TD when Patterson connected with Ieng on a 42 yard TD pass to account for the 37-26 final score.
“Even though we lost the game, I thought we played our best game of the season,” said Halas. “This game was back and forth. The kids showed an ability to work through adversity during the course of the game. I thought our offense played very well and kept the chains moving.
“Our offensive coordinator, Jaime Delverde, called an excellent game and had a great plan today,” added Halas. “We wanted this win badly and it hurts to lose, but I am proud of the kids and the effort they put forth.”
Halas and his crew will host Minuteman Regional this Friday evening for Homecoming under the lights at Chelsea Stadium. Kickoff is set for 7:00.
Boys soccer team ties Northeast, 1-1
The Chelsea High boys soccer team tied Northeast Regional Vocational School for the second time this season, playing the Golden Knights to a 1-1 standoff last Wednesday.
The double-deadlocks leave the rivals tied for first place atop the Large Division of the Commonwealth Athletic Conference, with the mutual standoffs the only blemishes on their respective records.
Northeast took a 1-0 lead at the 15:00 minute mark of the opening half when a breakdown in the Chelsea backfield presented the Knights with an opportunity, but the Red Devils leveled matters at 35:00 on a superb goal by Christian Hernandez.
Christian had won a ball near midfield and made a brief run before delivering a hard strike from about 40 yards out that caught the Northeast keeper off his line.
“It was an excellent and extremely heads-up play by Christian,” said CHS assistant coach Evan Protasowicki. “It was a beautiful goal and really gave us a huge boost before the end of the half.”
The second half proved to be a defensive battle for the full 40 minutes. The Red Devil backfield proved to be especially stalwart in front of their third-string keeper, senior Kevin Flores, who was pressed into service from his usual field position when back-up keeper Diego Granados, who had the starting nod with Angel Figueroa sidelined with illness, left the game midway through the first half with a shoulder injury.
“Kevin and his teammates on defense really stepped up,” noted Protasowicki.
The tie proved costly however, with injuries to captains Carlos Cartagena (leg and back) and Carlos Cruz (ankle) forcing them to the sideline late in the game. Guillerme Suarez also exited the contest with a leg injury earlier in the fray and the Red Devils were without Hector Garcia (ankle sprain) and Humberto Suarez (red card) from the outset.
“All in all, it was our best game of the year,” said Protasowicki.
Head coach Mick Milutinovic and his crew next played Somerville on the holiday in a non-league matchup with a Highlander squad that is ranked in the top 20 in the state. Although the Red Devils were without Cartagena, Cruz, Guillerme Suarez, and Garcia, they turned in an outstanding first half against Somerville.
A superb goal by Melvin Godoy, in which Melvin made a run from about 40 yards out, beat a Highlander defender, and then drilled a shot past the Somerville keeper to the far corner, gave the Red Devils an early 1-0 lead.
Somerville brought matters back to level before the end of the half and then added three goals after the break for the 4-1 final score.
“We played as well as we have all year in the first half,” said Protasowicki. “We had some key people out, but we reshuffled our lineup and others came in to step up.”
Milutinovic and his crew were set to host Lynn Tech yesterday (Wednesday) and will trek to Minuteman Regional today (Thursday). They then will cross the Parkway Monday night for a rematch with archival Everett at 7:00. They will travel to Greater Lowell next Thursday.
Deras wins again for Lady Red Devils
Although the Chelsea High girls and boys and cross country teams came up short in their meet last Wednesday at Greater Lowell, there were some notable performances by individual members of coach Don Fay’s squads.
On the girls side, Yarid Deras continued her winning ways with a strong win by 41 seconds over her nearest rival with a time of 23:05 over the 3.1 mile course.
However, the next three runners were from Greater Lowell. Finishing in fifth place was Lady Red Devil Jocelyn Poste in a time of 24:56. Senior captain Melanie Nguyen was next in 26:00, followed by Owliyo Mohamed in seventh spot with a clocking of 26:29 and freshman Karina Avalos, who out-kicked a Greater Lowell runner in the final 100 yards, in 31:05.
The final tally showed Greater Lowell edging the Lady Revils, 26-30.
“They have a strong top three and that ultimately earned them the victory,” said Fay. “Our top five are getting closer to Yarid who continues to run well and has only one loss in the league.”
For the boys, junior Jose Leclerc turned in a fine effort, taking second place with a performance that was just 22 seconds behind the winner from Greater Lowell.
“The GL runner who beat Jose was third in the league meet last year, so that shows that Jose is one of the top runners in the league,” noted Fay.
The next Chelsea finisher was Demitrius Martinez with a sixth place effort. Alex Pedrero was in ninth place, senior captain Adriel Cedano was 10th, and sophomore Wuilfido Hernandez was 11th.
The final result had Greater Lowell the victor, 20-38. “We have gone against some of the stronger teams in the league the last couple of weeks,” said Fay, whose crew had a tri-meet set for yesterday (Wednesday) with Minuteman and Northeast.
Both the girls and boys will host a quad meet at Admiral’s Hill this coming Wednesday with Shawsheen, Lynn Tech, and Essex Tech.
“Hopefully we can get a couple of wins from both the boys and girls sides,” said Fay.
by Bob Morello
Bruins hope speed thrills
Media Day for the Bruins was held on Tuesday at Brighton’s Warrior Ice Arena. It was a day when management and staff got to espouse their hopes, wishes, and forecasts of the fortunes of the 2016-17 Bruins. Among the speakers were owner Jeremy Jacobs, CEO Charlie Jacobs, president Cam Neely, GM Don Sweeney, and head coach Claude Julien. Optimism abounded from top to bottom, beginning with the owner’s confidence in stating, “I share the expectations of everybody up here that we’ll be in the playoffs, and I expect we’ll continue deep in the playoffs. We have a very good mix of young and old, experienced players, so I’m looking forward to a good playoff season.” Coach Julien sparked the conversation with, “Our goal is to play fast.” Likely meaning not just faster afoot, but faster in decision-making, and puck handling and puck management. Certainly a change in direction from the defense-first system that has been in effect during Julien’s lengthy existence as Bruins head coach.
A factor to be considered as the team prepares for tonight’s season opener with the Columbus Blue Jackets (Thursday, 7:00pm) is the injury list. Bruins blueliners Kevan Miller and Adam McQuaid’s undisclosed injuries have already caused them to be placed on injured reserve. McQuaid will be taking a seat for at least a week on a day-to-day basis, and Miller is expected to be out of action a while longer. On the upside, youngsters Brandon Carlo and Robbie O’Gara have impressed in pre-season, and have certainly stepped up with a chance to seize the opportunity on defense, and look like solid replacements to guard the Boston blue line. Forward Austin Czarnik skated in Tuesday’s practice and was sporting a red no-contact jersey, still feeling the effects of Philadelphia Flyers defenseman Radko Gudas’ hit up high – Gudas was handed a six game suspension by the NHL Department of Player Safety. Czarnik will continue to be a day-to-day decision.
Tonight’s (Thursday) Columbus Blue Jackets game will feature the chance for fans to witness the Bruins’ regular season debuts of winger David Backes, along with centers Dominic Moore and Riley Nash. Boston will travel on to Toronto, to face their division rival, the Maple Leafs, and Toronto’s newly-designed roster that includes Auston Matthews, the #1 pick in the 2016 NHL Draft on Saturday, 10/15 @ 7:00pm). The final game of their brief three-game road trip will include a stop in Winnipeg (Monday, 10/17) to face the Jets in an 8:00pm start. The team will then return to Garden ice for the Bruins’ home opener that will include opposition from the New Jersey Devils (Thursday, 10/20 @ 7:00pm), followed by the usually high-intensity matchup with another division rival, the Montreal Canadiens (Saturday, 10/22 @ 7:00pm), and finish off their three-game homestand with the Minnesota Wild (Tuesday, 10/25 @ 7:00pm).