The Winthrop High football team was ousted from the MIAA Division 6 playoffs by Cardinal Spellman, 21-8, in a first-round game played Friday night at Miller Field.
The No. 13 seed Cardinals were able to contain the No. 4 seed Vikings’ powerful running game while Cardinal Spellman senior QB Jack Duffy threw three touchdown passes, all while scrambling amidst a heavy pass rush. All three scoring passes were caught inside the end zone.
Sophomore Nick Cappuccio scored Winthrop’s only touchdown on a 53-yard run in the second quarter. Cappuccio’s two-point conversion gave Winthrop an 8-7 lead that it carried into the break.
Duffy’s two TD passes to receiver Jay Comeau in the third and fourth quarters were the difference in the second half.
“He [Duffy] was one of the better overall athletes that we faced all year,” credited Winthrop head coach Jon Cadigan. “He’s a great football player and a guy who could make plays.”
Cadigan felt his team played below the level of its regular-season performances that saw the Vikings earn a high seed for the playoffs.
“We picked a pretty bad time to play our worst game of the year,” said Cadigan. “I know our players and coaches were disappointed. That’s playoff football – you can’t expect to just show up and beat somebody, even though you’re the higher seed. It really came down to their best players made plays and our best players didn’t.”
Sophomore quarterback Matthew Noonan made the first start of his varsity career in place of his brother, Robert Noonan, who injured his knee in the game against Saugus.
“I was certainly proud of the way Matthew played,” said Cadigan. “I thought he played very well in his first start and made some throws when he needed to. He had a big, fourth-down pass to Mark Johnson late in the game to keep a drive alive.”
Evan Rockefeller made a strong debut at linebacker for the Vikings. “I was very happy that he was on the field and he played as well as you would expect from someone who hadn’t played in a long time,” lauded Cadigan.
Spellman Coach Jaquan Johnson on His Team’s Defensive Strategy
After leaving his team’s jubilant, post-game huddle, Spellman head coach Jaquan Johnson talked about his team’s “physical” week of practice and the well-executed defensive strategy that his team employed against the Vikings.
“We came in with a nice physical week of practice,” said Johnson. “We were focused. We watched a lot more film that we usually have done all year and we came out and we executed a game plan offensively and defensively.”
One of the major keys to the Cardinals’ victory was stopping the Vikings’ formidable ground game in which Welvis Acosta, Nick Cappuccio, Demetri Koutsouflakis, and George Galuris had flourished during the regular season.
“One of the biggest things today was following No. 8 [Acosta] and we had him in the backfield, and we didn’t let him get loose,” said Johnson. “We thought he was their best player, and that he led us to the ball if he was blocking or he had the ball in his hands, we were attacking.”
Johnson knew his team faced a monumental challenge against the Vikings.
“We were big underdogs, but we knew we were ready,” said Johnson. “We knew that we had changed the physicality of this team after what happened (Johnson took over the team following the resignation of the previous head coach) during the middle of the season. We went full pads all week and we executed. I’m very proud of my team. We had great respect for Winthrop. They’re a strong team and well-coached. Their offensive line made their blocks. We just knew that if we could see the plays and see the formations, that we could take away what their strengths were on each play.”
Marcoccio Receives Defensive Player of the Game Award
Junior defensive lineman Alessio Marcoccio was named the Vikings’ defensive player of the game for the second week in a row.
Marcoccio was also the team’s highest rated blocker on the offensive line. “Alessio had himself a pretty good ballgame,” said Coach Cadigan.
An Old Rival Comes to Winthrop
Winthrop will host Swampscott today (Thursday at 6:30 p.m.). at Miller Field.
“I’m excited about the matchup,” said Cadigan. “Obviously we’d like to still be in the playoffs, but I’m very happy with the game with Swampscott.”
The Vikings will conclude their season on Thanksgiving versus Revere at Miller Field.
“Playing two of our bigger rivals on back-to-back weeks, we can really finish the season off the right way,” said Cadigan.