WILMINGTON— Last season, the Wilmington Wildcats had a game against Melrose cancelled due to a freak snow storm. Mother Nature robbed the team of the chance to play a full eight game regular season.
On Sunday, Wilmington took their revenge on Melrose and Mother Nature by posting a 24-0 shutout. The win moved the Wildcats to 5-0 on the season. The result was the fourth shutout in five games this season for the Wildcats, who have outscored their opponents 120-6 through five games.
The Wilmington defensive backs, led by Mikey Daley, Michael Ducharme and Timmy Rivers were solid for the Wildcats. Ducharme had three tackles, including a tackle-for-loss, Daley had an interception and Rivers had a 46 yard punt return that opened the scoring for Wilmington.
The offense started the game a bit sluggish for Wilmington. Fumbles and miscues prevented the offense from scoring on their opening drive, a rarity for the C team. After the defense held Melrose in check, the team got the spark they needed from Rivers.
Rivers fielded the punt on the Melrose 46 yard line and seeing no daylight to his left (the direction the return was actually called to); he ran to his right, dodged a defender and followed a wall of blocking led by Ryan Brewer and Justin Fraser on his way to the end zone. After a rough start, this got the Wildcats going. The PAT was no good so the Wildcats led 6-0.
On their next possession, Wilmington failed to score but quarterback Andrew Sullivan led the team on a methodical 10 play drive. This was the first time the team utilized the no-huddle offense and it forced Melrose to burn a timeout. Calling all of his plays from the line, Sullivan made solid play calls all the way down the field until a tipped pass that led to an interception stalled the drive.
Although the Wildcats failed to score, they did enough to ensure terrible field position for Melrose on the next drive. After a defensive four-and-out, the Wildcat offense returned to the field and it took running back John Kenney one play to score his team leading ninth touchdown of the season to put Wilmington up 12-0. The teams went into halftime with Wilmington up by that 12-0 score.
Melrose took the opening possession of the second half and failed to move the ball. The Wilmington linebackers, led by Blake Hiltz (6 tackles), Braden Hiltz (5 tackles), Joey Dumoulin and Mark Companeschi (2 tackles apiece) stifled the Melrose ground attack and held them to only two first downs (one of which came on a penalty), for the entire game. For the season, the Wildcat defense has allowed only one touchdown through five games, due in large part to terrific linebacker play.
On their first possession of the second half, the offense was finally in sync spanning 49 yards in four plays, culminating with a 32 yard touchdown run by fullback Kyle Penney. On the play, John Kenney ran from behind Penney, ran downfield and laid a crushing block on a Melrose defender. Over the last 15 games, Kenney has rushed for over 1,800 yards, most of them with Penney blocking for him so it was an opportunity for Kenney to return the favor.
The offensive line, led by Center Kyle Kenyon, Guards Blake Hiltz, Companeschi and Kyle Bolis and Tackles Pat McAndrew, Tommy Strow and Colin Rooney were solid all game for the Wildcats.
After failing to score on their next possession, the offense took the field late in the fourth quarter after a Kenney punt return of 40 yards set them up inside the five yard line. Two plays later, Peter Marino barreled into the end zone for his first rushing touchdown of the season. In the last three weeks, Marino has blocked a kick, returned an interception for a touchdown and rushed for a touchdown.
Melrose had one last chance to put points on the board but the defensive line came up big and defensive end Frankie Irizarry (3 tackles) sacked the Melrose quarterback on the last play as the horn sounded and the Wildcats walked away with a 24-0 victory.
The defensive line, led by Irizarry and defensive end Andrew Brandenburg (3.5 tackles) and defensive tackles Brett Chisholm (2 tackles), Michael Smolinsky (1 tackle) and Nolan Fitzgerald created havoc for the Melrose offensive line all day causing numerous false start penalties and tackles-for-loss.
Wilmington will be at Glen Road on Sunday for their final regular season home game. The team will be taking on a tough Waltham squad at 11:00 a.m. It is also Homecoming for Wilmington Pop Warner so stop on by for some fun and excitement for kids of all ages.