The Chelsea High football team made its Thanksgiving Day feast a happy and fulfilling one as the Red Devils defeated Matignon, 22-8, in a Turkey Day battle last Thursday morning at Chelsea Stadium.
Coach Mike Stellato’s Red Devils combined a defensive effort that got tough when it had to and a young offense that opened holes in the Matignon defense to earn the victory.
Chelsea was forced to overcome an early 8-0 deficit thanks to a pair of miscues that cost the Red Devils dearly. The first occurred when Chelsea took the opening kickoff and moved to the Matignon 40, but fumbled. Matignon got as far as the CHS 10 yard line after the turnover, but the Red Devil defense dug in and took the ball over on downs, the first of three stops inside the red zone that the Chelsea “D” would make on the day.
After the Chelsea offense could get no further than the CHS 45 and was forced to punt, a high snap on the punt attempt set up Matignon at the Chelsea 25. This time Matignon took advantage of the opportunity and reached the CHS end zone in five plays.
But that would prove to be the apogee for the Matignon effort on the day, as the young CHS gridsters got to work and changed the momentum of the game in their favor.
The Chelsea “D” was first to answer the call, stuffing Matignon on a fourth and one at the CHS 35. The Chelsea “O” then grabbed the spotlight, marching 65 yards in eight plays to tie the contest at 8-8 with 3:30 to play in the half. Junior running back Jose Martinez scored the TD on a one yard run and sophomore halfback Sammy Rivera went over for the two point conversion.
The Chelsea defense was called upon once more before the half ended. After allowing Matignon to drive inside the CHS 10 yard line, the Red Devil defenders, who lived on the motto of “bend but don’t break” throughout the contest, thwarted Matignon on four successive plays to take over on downs with 10 seconds left in the half.
The Red Devils, no doubt buoyed by their staunch defensive stand, came out at the intermission and took charge of the contest on both sides of the line of scrimmage. After the CHS defense forced a three-and-out for Matignon on the first possession of the second half, the offense took over at its own 35.
The trio of running backs Martinez, Rivera, and Raul Fores found holes in the Matignon line to advance the Red Devils to the Matignon 20. With the effective CHS ground game punishing the Matignon defense like a boxer’s body blows to his opponent, the stage was set for a Red Devil haymaker over the top, which in this case came in the form of a 20 yard pass from senior quarterback Steven Dwyer to freshman wide receiver Nelson Vega for a touchdown. Sophomore quarterback Mark Anthony Williams then ran in the two point conversion to give the Red Devils a 16-8 advantage.
With the fourth quarter underway, that left matters in the hands of the Chelsea defense to preserve the lead. Flores made the first big turnover for Chelsea with an interception that set up an insurance touchdown by the CHS offense in just five plays, with Flores himself punching it in from the one.
Martinez then applied the coup de grace with another INT with less than 2:00 to play to seal the win.
CHS head coach Mike Stellato hailed the play of his offensive line, sophomore center Francisco Mercedes, sophomore guard Jomael Dejesus, senior guard Angel Gamboni, freshman tackle Dennys Hernandez, and sophomore tackle Jason Donatelli for their superb play. In addition to praising the performances of Dwyer at quarterback and Martinez and Rivera at running back, Stellato also cited the efforts of sophomore receiver Adriel Rodriguez and freshman receiver Nelson Vega.
Defensively, the coach likewise had numerous plaudits for his players, led by kudos for junior defensive end Carlos Vega who had six tackles and a sack, sophomore defensive tackle Herbert Lainez, senior defensive back Flores, sophomore defensive backs Carlos Ramos and Josue Theosmy, and sophomore defensive lineman Jefferson Elien.
“This win made for a very happy Thanksgiving,” Stellato said afterwards Although this has been a tough season for the Red Devils, the win not only ended the seniors’ careers on a positive note, but it also gave the underclassmen something to build upon for the 2013 campaign.