BURLINGTON, Mass. -- A new team may have risen in the ranks of the Middlesex League's Freedom division on Friday.
Since the league split into two tiers three seasons ago, Wakefield has won the division (previously called the "Small" division) each year. But with a different division name and a new, more powerful Burlington (6-1, 2-0), a fresh face is now competing for the top spot.
The Red Devils leaned heavily on running backs Marcus O'Diah and Anthony Cruz, as the seniors lead Burlington to a 33-6 domination of Wakefield (6-1, 1-1) to grab their first win in the rivalry since 2007.
“We are more physical (this year),” said Burlington coach Shawn Maguire. “Up front we have decent size, but we are playing very tough physical football.”
Separating its first 14 plays evenly between O'Diah and Cruz, the Red Devils' pair rushed for their first 102 yards. O'Diah bobbed in and out along the sidelines for a 14-yard touchdown rush to open the scoring at nine minutes in the first.
On Burlington's first pass attempt of the game, junior Jimmy Goober bounced a blocked pass off the chest of a fallen defender and up into the arms of senior Jirair Manoukian for a five-yard touchdown and a 14-0 margin five and a half minutes later.
“They had been loading up on the line,” said Maguire. “We had to open them up a little bit. Goober has played great all year as a backup quarterback who is coming in.”
A forced fumble by junior Christien Morneweck on a punt return made way for a one yard dive by Cruz for a 20-0 Burlington lead in the final seconds of the first half.
Two-Headed Monster: The Red Devils directed 58 of their 60 plays to either O'Diah or Cruz.
O'Diah took 33 handoffs for 164 yards and two touchdowns, while Cruz rushed 24 times for 142 yards and 14 points.
“I am just looking for Marcus,” said Cruz. “We do a lot of inside running and that helps our toughness. He did a good job blocking tonight.”
Burlington handed off to only O'Diah and Cruz on its first 15 plays of the second half to move 86 yards and go ahead 27-0 on a one-yard dive by Cruz. Another nine plays for 81 yards from the seniors set up a four-yard rush by O'Diah, for the finishing score with 2:31 left.
Slight Resurgence: Wakefield reached the 20-yard-line only two times in the first 36 minutes, while failing fourth down conversions both possessions on long passing plays.
A 20-yard post-pattern toss attempt by junior quarterback Michael Miller was knocked down in the end zone by O'Diah for a turnover on downs at 8:31 in the second. The Warriors drove 50 yards to start the half, but again failed on a cross pattern in the end zone that was blocked by Morneweck.
Last year's Division 2A runner-ups were 1-of-6 passing for zero yards in the first half.
“Their tackle (Mark Woods) is amazing so we started throwing short stuff and running away from him,” said Wakefield coach Michael Boyages. “We get down in the redzone and we just stalled a few times. Twenty is a lot of points to come back from in this weather.”
Wakefield began moving the ball in the second half with short screen passes to senior Alec Brown who caught five tosses for 76 yards all following the break. The senior grabbed an out-pass 10 yards from the end zone and pushed his defender away for 29-yard score and a 27-6 deficit four and a half minutes into the fourth quarter.
BURLINGTON 33, WAKEFIELD 6
B – Marcus O'Diah 14 run (kick failed)
B - Jirair Manoukian 5 pass from Jimmy Goober (Antony Cruz pass from Goober)
B – Cruz 1 run (kick failed)
B – Cruz 1 run (Chris Arria kick)
W – Alec Brown 29 pass from Michael Miller (kick failed)
B – O'Diah 4 run (kick failed)