Editor's Note: The following information was provided by Frank Irizarry of Wilmington Wildcats Pop Warner.
The Wilmington Wildcats Pop Warner C team opened the 2012 season on Sunday with a 20-0 victory over the Winchester Sachems.
The Wildcat defense was stifling against a physical Winchester squad and the offensive line was dominant in helping the Wildcat rushing attack run for 178 yards and three touchdowns in the game.
The C team is comprised primarily of players from last year’s and this team picked up where last year’s squad left off.
The Wildcats won the coin toss and elected to receive the ball. After a long kick return that took the Wildcats into Winchester territory, Wilmington had a quick four play, 39 yard drive capped off by a 20 yard touchdown run by John Kenney.
Kenney, who finished the 2011 season with 1,206 yards rushing and 23 touchdowns, seemed to pick up where he left off last year. The offensive line, anchored by Kyle Kenyon at Center, Blake Hiltz, Mark Companeschi and Kyle Bolis at Guard and Pat McAndrew, Tommy Strow and Colin Rooney at Tackle also picked up where they left off last season as they dominated the line of scrimmage on the opening drive and throughout the game.
The PAT was no good so the Wildcats led early in the game, 6-0. The defense took the field next and they too seemed to pick up where they left off. The Wildcat defense held Winchester to negative yards on the first drive of the game, a trend that continued for most of the afternoon.
The Wildcats recorded 14 tackles-for-loss on the day. The defense was led by linebackers Blake Hiltz (5 ½ tackles), Joey Dumoulin (5 ½ tackles and an interception), nose-tackle Peter Marino (4 tackles) and cornerback Mikey Daley (3 ½ tackles). After Winchester went four-and-out the Wildcat offense took over and that’s where things got a little rough for Wilmington.
Over the remainder of the half, the Wildcats recorded five fumbles which led to four turnovers. The Wildcats also had two touchdowns called back (one on a run by John Kenney and one on an interception return by Joey Dumoulin) during the half.
While the defense looked solid, the offense showed some early season, first game rust and they made it to halftime with a 6-0 lead. The Wildcats came out in the second half and looked like a different team. Quarterback Andrew Sullivan led Wilmington on a seven play, 68 yard drive that culminated with a 23 yard touchdown run by fullback Kyle Penney.
Penney had three carries for 31 yards on the drive and looked like the 2011 Kyle Penney that served as a lead blocker for Kenney as well as a running back that accounted for 413 yards, seven touchdowns, and an astounding 5.4 yards-per-carry average for a fullback.
The PAT put the Wildcats up 13-0 midway through the third quarter and the team started to come alive. The Wildcat defense came out and again proved stifling to the Winchester offense.
The Sachems tried running up the middle but were stuffed by defensive tackles Kyle Kenyon, Brett Chisholm, Nolan Fitzgerald and Michael Smolinsky who combined for 3 ½ tackles. The defense was without tackle Nick Kullman, who is still recovering from on off-season injury but the defensive interior played well.
On the perimeter, Defensive Ends Andrew Brandenberg were solid combining for five tackles including Brandenburg running down a Sachem back on a toss sweep and Irizarry staying home and stuffing a reverse in the backfield. The secondary, led by Timmy Rivers and Ryan Brewer at Safety as well as Michael Ducharme and Mikey Daley at corner held the Sachems to zero pass completions. The secondary combined for six tackles on the day.
After John Kenney left the game due to injury, linebacker Braden Hiltz took his spot at running back. After tallying two carries for seven yards, Hiltz took a toss sweep to the right, followed a solid block from slot back Justin Fraser and cut back across the field, weaving through a slew of Sachem defenders en route to the end zone.
The 39-yard touchdown run was the longest run of the day for either team. Hiltz finished with four carries for 48 yards, an astounding 12 yards-per-carry. With the PAT, the Wildcats went up 20-0 and that would be the final score of the day.
Although the Wildcats have many returners from last year’s D team, the new additions to the squad have made the team even stronger. Blake and Braden Hiltz played with the Wildcat C team last season, Timothy Rivers played in Malden and recently moved to the area and Andrew Brandenburg played in California last season before he and his family relocated to the area.
Additionally, first year players Colin Rooney, Kyle Bolis, Nolan Fitzgerald and Michael Smolinsky all made contributions in the win. Although the first-half did not quite go as planned, the second half was a showcase of the toughness and resiliency that made the team a league champion and carried them to an undefeated season last year.
The Wildcats open their home slate this Sunday with an 11:00 AM game against Arlington at Glen Road Field.