Taking control on both sides of the football in the first quarter, Winthrop High defeated South Hadley, 35-0, in a Division 6 state playoff game before a large crowd at Miller Field.
Welvis Acosta rushed for three touchdowns while Cam Martin excelled on offense and defense for the Vikings, who kept the visiting Tigers from western Massachusetts out of the end zone for all 48 minutes.
Meanwhile, the Vikings’ outstanding 6-foot-4-inch lineman Pete Jurovich made the “play of the game” in the first quarter when South Hadley entertained thoughts of driving for the game-tying touchdown. Jurovich raced across the field to separate the South Hadley ballcarrier from the football and cause a fumble. Mikey Chaves scooped up the football in stride and returned it 17 yards to the South Hadley 8-yard line.
Martin scored on an 8-yard run and Anthony Indrisano rushed for the two-point conversion, and the lead was 14-0 with 5:21 left in the first quarter.
Martin had earlier contributed to the first touchdown with a reverse handoff to Acosta, who scored from 11 yards out.
Winthrop made it 21-0 when quarterback Robert Noonan connected with Ian Harris on a 16-yard completion to set up the Vikings on the 1-yard line. Noonan did the touchdown honors and Juan Sanchez booted the PAT to give Winthrop a 21-0 lead.
Acosta’s 9-yard TD run, set up by Martin’s long-gainer, made it 27-0. Noonan then connected with Acosta for the two-point conversion.
Rising freshman running back Nick Cappuccio sprinted through the South Hadley defense to set the Vikings up in prime scoring position, just falling short of the goal line. Acosta scored his third TD on a 1-yard run to complete the 35-0 triumph.
Head coach Jon Cadigan, defensive coordinator James Fucillo, and the coaching staff put together a solid game to shut down South Hadley’s offense which had scored 42 points in a win over Chicopee, one of the larger communities in western Massachusetts with a population of 55,000 residents.
“I thought we played well in all phases of the game,” said Cadigan. “There were things special teams wise we wanted to do and that was kicking the ball off deep, and we got that done. We had a punt return for a touchdown called back for a touchdown, which was disappointing, but then we also had a blocked punt. Offensively when you score 35 points, that’s a good night. And defensively, you give up zero, that’s a pretty good night.”
Winthrop will play at No. 4 seed Rockland in the quarterfinals Thursday at 6 p.m. The game was wisely moved to Thursday because of the weather forecast for rain (90 percent chance) Friday.
Rockland defeated Easthampton, 27-0, in its playoff opener. Rockland and Winthrop both had shutout victories over Saugus during the regular season.
Martin, Acosta Lead the Way for Vikings
Cam Martin gets a grade of A-plus in the first playoff game of his career. Martin scored a touchdown, intercepted a pass, had six tackles, recovered a fumble, and executed reverse handoff plays to perfection. Martin also had a punt return for a touchdown that was called back for the second time this season.
Martin finished with 11 carries for 96 yards. He won the Black Shirt award as the Vikings’ defensive player of the game.
“Cam is a pretty dynamic player wherever you put him,” said Coach Cadigan. “He can make plays on defense, offense, and special teams. It’s always good to get the football in his hands in all phases of the game.”
Martin said some pre-game video evaluation of South Hadley’s offense helped prepare the Vikings for the game. “We had some good film-study and were well prepared for the game by our coaches,” said Martin. “We were ready, and it was great to have the crowd behind us.”
Welvis Acosta had another excellent performance with 10 carries for 57 yards and three touchdowns. Acosta was named a Boston Herald Star of the Week.
“It can’t just be the Cam [Martin] Show if we want to keep advancing and playing in these games,” said Cadigan. “And I think Welvis is really starting to prove that he’s a physical back and one of our stronger guys, and you’re starting to see it.”
Anthony Indrisano has also emerged as an important contributor on offense, which should give the Rockland coaches another factor to consider for their quarterfinal round matchup versus Winthrop.
Marquez Blocks a Punt
Victor Marquez had a block of a South Hadley punt, accentuating Winthrop’s above-average performance on special teams.
“That was a very good play,” lauded Jon Cadigan.
A Big Day for Pete Jurovich
Pete Jurovich once again had a major impact on the football game.
“Play of the day,” said Jon Cadigan, in describing Jurovich’s dash across the field to force a first-quarter fumble. “Pete just came out of nowhere with a great play coming from behind to strip the football which Mikey picked up and returned to the 8-yard line. That’s strictly an effort play by Peter. When the biggest guy on the field plays with the amount of effort that he plays with, it’s really no wonder you have schools looking at Pete to play at the next level.”
Jurovich also “stayed at home” for a 1-on-1 tackle on what looked like a well-engineered quarterback draw play by South Hadley. Can you imagine being the South Hadley QB and you believe the play is working exactly as designed – and then you get past the line of scrimmage with some running room ahead, and there is the 6-foot-4-inch, 270-pound Jurovich ready to lower the boom for a tackle? Nice play, Pete.
Coach Cadigan reported that a University of New Hamsphire football coach visited with Jurovich earlier that day at Winthrop High School.
“It’s great to see Pete getting the recognition he deserves from people outside the Winthrop football program,” said Cadigan.