The Warriors’ successful 2012 campaign ended on a sour note, as they fell to rivals Melrose 28-15 on Thanksgiving morning, which snapped Wakefield’s four-game winning streak.
Melrose was nursing a 7-0 lead at the break courtesy of a pick-six interception return by outside linebacker Max Karelas. The Melrose running game, specifically that of Dean Anderson (161-yards, 3 TDs) found its footing in the third quarter, jumping out to a lead they would never relinquish. After the 53rd Turkey Day meeting of the two teams, Melrose now holds a 51-40-6 all-time record over the Wakefield Warriors.
Both Wakefield and Melrose finished their seasons at 8-3-0.
“I give them a lot of credit because they played well and had a good game plan for us,” said Wakefield Head Coach Mike Boyages. “We were hoping to come up with some stops to force them into passing situations, but they did a good job of grinding away and kept the running game consistent. As for us, the turnovers and a couple of bad penalties really did us in.”
Melrose Head Coach Tim Morris and his squad were well prepared for Warrior QB Mike Miller, whose 22 TD passes this season set a Wakefield school record. They did their best to climb back into the contest late, getting two scores off some blown Melrose assignments, but the Red Raiders carried the day by taking care of the football and winning the turnover battle.
“The defense played well as a unit and we shut down a pretty potent pass game that put a lot of points on the board this season,” Morris said. “When the offense started to click in the third, that’s what made it a great day.”
The Melrose ground game also had the added benefit of keeping the potent Wakefield offense off the field for long stretches. And even when a pivotal drive was mounting, the Warriors put the ball on the ground allowing the momentum to swing back in Melrose’s favor.
“We had a chance to get back in it with eight or nine minutes to go, but we had an uncharacteristic personal foul and a fumble which basically cost us the game,” Boyages said. “I couldn’t really see from my vantage point but I thought we actually came up with the ball, but the ball went to them and that was it. Again, I give those kids the credit because they are a strong team and we sure don’t like losing.”
Boyages praised the efforts of Senior Dan Cardillo who would not be denied his final chance at gridiron glory, making his return to the field after a severe ankle break. He played valiantly despite the presence of screws and pins in the still-healing wheel.
Despite this being the end of the season for both teams, there might be a better chance for a successful season to lead to post-season play next year with a revamped playoff format in the works. The revamped schedule means these familiar foes will face off not just on Thanksgiving Day, but also during the regular season with the premise that, depending on record, a third season meeting could be in the offing for the playoffs.
For a coach that doubles as AD, Boyages hopes the new formatting will not deter from the special feel of long-standing rivalries such as the one between his program and Melrose.
“As an athletic director, I have to worry about the gate receipts too, which are what help pay for these programs,” said Boyages, who expects to bring a strong team back in 2013 based on the success of recent undefeated freshman teams.
“These two teams obviously have had some great battles over the years so I hope this doesn’t take away from the special feeling that the fans and the players have like they had on Thursday,” he said.
Then again, if there is more on the line come this time next year, there could be a whole new chapter to this storied rivalry that is yet to be written.