With a streak of lopsided wins to open the year, the 2009 season has been a breeze for the Chelsea High varsity football team. Head coach Stellato warned his team that their games would not always be as easy as last week’s 29-0 victory over Greater Lowell, and the Red Devils finally got their first real taste of adversity on Friday when they found themselves shorthanded by injuries against Mystic Valley.
As it turns out, the Red Devils don’t need to hang crooked numbers on their opponents to beat them. Even though they were missing starting quarterback Nelson Molina (ankle injury) and starting tailback Daniel Martinez (leg), Chelsea was still able to find a way to come up with a 12-6 win and extend their start to 4-0.
In the absence of Molina and Martinez, David Cortes was called upon to fill in at QB, while Troy Crossley took up most of Martinez’s workload at tailback. The new-look Chelsea offense was anything but flawless and squandered some drives with costly penalties, but they played well enough to take the lead midway through the first quarter when Crossley found an opening for a 36-yard touchdown run.
As it has in every game this season, the Chelsea defense kept its opponent from reaching the end zone during the first half. Though not resembling the juggernaut that has appeared at times this year, the offense did come up with one of the highlight plays of the season so far late in the third quarter. Cortes threw a 42-yard pass to Felix Torres, who broke a tackle after catching the ball and ran another 20 yards into the end zone to make it 12-0.
In the final minutes of the game, Chelsea appeared to be on the verge of its second consecutive shutout win. Mystic Valley was facing fourth-down-and-four at Chelsea’s 36-yard line when the Red Devils uncharacteristically missed three different tackles that would have halted the play. The Eagles made the first-down and continued their drive, eventually scoring with less than a minute to play. It was the first touchdown that the Chelsea defensive starters have allowed all season.
Mystic Valley attempted the onside kick, but the Red Devils recovered it and took a knee to run out the clock.
“We did talk about adversity and what we were facing and it was good,” said Stellato. “We were in a close game – which we needed – and our back were to the wall and most of the guys did a nice job. You never know with anybody, when they face something like this, how they will respond. The other thing is that it was our first league game of the season, which is always important.”
Indeed, the win made Chelsea 1-0 against Commonwealth Athletic Conference opponents as it begins its slate of games against league opponents.
The Chelsea defense got a big-time performance from Chris Acosta, made eight tackles playing at nose guard and defensive end. In addition to catching the long pass from Cortes and running it in for the touchdown, Torres was strong on defense with five tackles, two assists and an interception. Cortes and Crossley, the two sudden offensive leaders, also continued to do their jobs on the other side of the ball with Crossley controlling the defensive backfield from the safety position and Cortes laying some heavy hits at middle linebacker.
The Red Devils hope to have their full complement of players back this weekend as they pursue their fifth straight win. Chelsea will travel to Billerica to face Shawsheen Tech on Saturday at 3 p.m.
The varsity football team is not the only Chelsea High team that has yet to be defeated this season. The boys soccer Devils are now 8-0-1 after a busy couple of weeks. The Red Devils beat North Shore Tech, 5-0, on Tuesday thanks to a hat trick from Elvin Merino and individual goals from Alex Palencia and Ricardo Amaya.
The win came on the heels of Chelsea’s toughest win of the season, and the only one they didn’t win, so far. The Red Devils played to a 1-1 tie against Northeast Metro RVT on Friday. Northeast got the first score of the game and held a 1-0 over their rivals in the second half until Chelsea knotted the score with a late goal from Merino.
Chelsea had another lopsided win against Greater Lowell on September 30. Omellio McNeish scored four times as the Red Devils romped to a 5-1 win. Prior to that, Chelsea beat Minuteman Tech and Brighton by a combined score of 10-0. Merino (three goals) and Carlos Martinez led the way in the 6-0 win over Brighton on September 28, and Alex Palencia, Jaime Ayala, Merino and Martinez all scored in a 4-0 win over Minuteman on September 23.
The girls soccer Devils lost, 4-2, against Northeast Regional last Thursday. Head coach Jen Gulko described the game as a “tough and physical” battle that resulted in a few injuries to Chelsea players. Katerin Romero and Elsi Cruz both scored for the Red Devils, and Victoria Perez played an outstanding game in the net. The team is now 3-4 and has a chance to get back over .500 this week if they can come up with wins against Lynn Tech and North Shore Tech.
Boys and Girls
Chelsea’s cross country squads both competed in a tri-meet against Greater Lawrence and Shawsheen Tech last week, with both teams splitting the decisions against their two opponents to end the week with 5-2 records.
The boys defeated Greater Lawrence, 22-33, but lost to Shawsheen Tech, 25-34. Ugo Cvjetan was first overall with a time of 17:49. Cesar Hernandez finished third (18:35) and Santos Hernandez took seventh (19:32). Brandon Rath (21:00) and Luis Hernandez (21:30) finished eleventh and twelfth, respectively.
The girls also won, 15-42, against Greater Lawrence but were defeated, 17-38, by the Shawsheen girls, who – like the Shawsheen boys – are the defending champions of the Commonwealth Athletic Conference. Shawsheen took the first four spots in the race, while Chelsea had five of the next six top finishers.
Jesenia Contreras led the way for Chelsea with a time of 24:46. The other top finishers (in order) for the Red Devils were Suzanne Mixalixen (24:55), Thien-Ly Che (25:11), Anelsa Beqo (25:40), Karen Zulaga (25:54). Promising freshman Kadiatu Kaara was 13th with a time of 27:00.
The two cross country squads were scheduled to face Minuteman Tech and Essex Agricultural on Wednesday in Lexington.