The Chelsea High football team played well and fought hard to the very end, but the Red Devils came up on the short end of a 15-6 decision to Lynn Tech Friday evening under the lights at Manning Field in Lynn in their 2012 season opener.
The Red Devils knew coming into the contest that Tech, which figures to challenge for the Commonwealth Athletic Conference title this season, would be a formidable foe. That feeling was confirmed on Tech’s opening possession, a 60 yard drive to the endzone that was highlighted by a 40 yard TD jaunt by Tech’s all-purpose running back, Kennedy Gomes.
However, the Red Devils regrouped and refused to buckle after the quick haymaker by Tech. Chelsea dug deep and played Tech on even terms throughout the rest of the first half, which ended with Tech clinging to its early 7-0 lead. Both teams committed a number of turnovers that killed their offensive drives, including a missed field goal attempt by Chelsea that could have put the Devils on the board.
Indeed, the Red Devils came out firing on all cylinders after the intermission and took the opening kickoff from their own 40, putting together a nice drive that was spearheaded by the rushing of running backs Raul Flores and Jose Martinez (both of whom also shone on defense) and quarterback Steven Dwyer. Dwyer capped the drive with a one yard plunge into the endzone for the first Chelsea TD of the 2012 campaign.
The Red Devils continued to play tough on defense, containing Gomes and the Tech attack, and the offense was back in business at the start of the fourth frame with a drive that took Chelsea to the Tech 20 yard line. However, by that time Friday’s promised rainstorm, which had led to the cancellation of other high school games in the area, was in full force. The slippery pigskin resulted in a missed snap and fumble which was recovered by Tech to thwart the CHS bid to take the lead.
Tech then took over and put together a flawless drive for a touchdown, with Gomes leading the way, that both pushed Tech into a 15-6 advantage (after the two point conversion) and ate up a lot of the clock.
However, the Red Devils refused to throw in the towel and drove deep into Tech territory once again in the final minutes. But once again the wet ball played a role in a turnover, a Tech interception, to seal the Red Devils’ fate.
Despite the loss, CHS head coach Mike Stellato was pleased with his team’s overall performance.
“We had a number of new and young players, for whom this was their first varsity game, who responded very well to the pressure,” said Stellato. “They really held it together and I was pleasantly surprised at how well they played, especially on defense. The team gave it their all and I was very pleased with their effort.”
Freshman Nelson Vega was among the newcomers who stood out for the Red Devils, intercepting two Tech passes and forcing a fumble that was recovered by Martinez. Junior defensive tackle Quintavious Smith also came up big for Chelsea.
The CHS offensive line proved its mettle, led by senior captain and center David Rocque. Stellato also cited junior offensive tackle Luis Valles and junior wide receiver Kevin Ortiz for their fine efforts.
The Red Devils will have an unexpected bye this week, which occurred because the scheduled opponent, Trinity, decided not to open their season until week four. Chelsea will return to action next Saturday morning when they travel to Greater Lawrence, another of the top teams in the CAC this season.
Boy soccer team blast N.E. Voke, 5-1
The Chelsea High boys cross country team, coming off one of the best seasons in Red Devil history, kicked off its 2012 campaign on the right foot with a convincing 5-1 win over archrival Northeast Regional.
The contest began inauspiciously for Coach Mick Milutinovic’s Chelsea squad, as Northeast struck first in the opening minutes of the game and pressed its advantage through the first part of the first half.
However, the Chelsea defense and keeper Junior Rivera held firm, allowing their team to regroup and recalibrate. Senior Kilmer Carillo soon notched the first CHS goal of the season, assisted by Luis Cruz, on a nice shot from inside the 18 yard line. Minutes later Cruz reached the back of the Northeast net, not only pushing the Red Devils into a 2-1 lead, but also swinging the momentum in Chelsea’s favor.
Senior Michael Kottu then displayed his speed and quick shot when he took a through pass from Walter Guzman to slip behind the Northeast defense and release an accurate shot from a tough angle that beat the NE keeper to the far post, making it 3-1 in Chelsea’s favor before the half ended.
The Red Devils continued on the attack after the intermission, with Kottu striking again at about the 10 minute mark. Cruz chipped a pass over the Northeast defender, allowing Kottu once again to break in cleanly on goal to make it 4-1. Guzman iced the CHS victory cake late in the game with a marker on a shot from the 18 yard area for the 5-1 finale.
“Our production on offense was a pleasant surprise,” said CHS assistant coach Evan Protasowicki. “We have a lot of new players in the forward positions and we know it will take some time before they come together as a team.”
The Red Devils, who will be led by Captain Hector Ramirez for the 2012 season, had been counting upon sophomore Dennis Martinez, who had been one of their top scorers during his sensational freshman year, to be a main force on offense this year.
However, a new national soccer rule, which is being implemented this year by the U.S. Soccer Federation, mandates that club soccer players at the academy level (the elite club teams) cannot play for their high schools. Martinez plays for the Academy team of the Boston Bolts and thus is ineligible to play for the Red Devils.
“I can understand the reasoning behind the rule from the national development perspective,” said Protasowicki, “but it essentially means that the best high school players in America will not be able to play for their hometown high school teams.”
Milutinovic and his crew will take on another of their key league foes, Lynn Tech, this evening (Thursday) under the lights at Manning Field at Lynn at 7:00. Chelsea will stay on the road, journeying to Minuteman Regional next Wednesday.
Boys cross country team wins opener
The Chelsea High boys cross country team won its season opener, defeating Minuteman Regional Monday afternoon, 21-40, on their home course at Admiral’s Hill.
Senior captain Chester Rath was second overall in a time of 19:19. Jeffrey Estrada had a personal best of 19:36 for third place. Faisal Nasimi was fourth in a time of 19:46. Tony Nguyen was fifth overall, running 19:55. In his first cross country race Bryan Jimenez was seventh overall and the fifth Chelsea runner to finish up the scoring in a time of 20:56.
Also running well for the Red Devils were Jay Pedrero in 21:27, Joseph Chirinos in 21:30, freshman Alex Alvarez in 21:54, and sophomore Brian Horn in 22:00. The boys were set to face Whittier Tech at Admiral’s Hill yesterday (Wednesday).
On the girls side, the Lady Red Devils dropped a 26-31 decision to the Lady Minutemen. Tatiana Almedia was second overall for Chelsea, followed by Patricia Guardado in third and Katherine Villagron in fifth. The next five spots were captured by the Lady Minutemen.
“We don’t have that much depth and we are not in the fitness we should be in at this point,” said CHS head coach Don Fay.
The girls also were set to take on Whittier yesterday.