The Stoneham High football team came into Miller Field with a well-deserved reputation for its powerful rushing attack.
But it was Coach Jon Cadigan’s Winthrop football team that beat the Spartans at their own game, utilizing its four-way ground game to claim the season opener, 13-7, Friday night at Miller Field.
Demetri Koutsouflakis (4 carries, 51 yards) scored the winning touchdown on a 10-yard run with 9:49 left to play in the game. Koutsouflakis showed speed and strength on the score that broke a 7-7 deadlock.
Meanwhile, Nick Cappuccio showed just why he is a Boston Herald “Player to Watch,” opening his campaign with 99 yards rushing on 12 carries, including a sensational 37-yard run for Winthrop’s first touchdown of the season.
“On Nick’s run, we had some very good blocking on a power play,” said Cadigan. “We got a good double-team block from George Galuris and Dan Thomai on their defensive end, and that really sets up the play. Robert Rich did a nice job as the fullback kicking out, and our backside guard, Alessio Marcoccio, did an excellent job pulling around and blocking their linebacker.”
Cappuccio nearly had a second TD run, but he was denied on an amazing shoestring tackle by Stoneham’s Ty Baker.
“I give kudos to their inside linebacker who made a great play to tackle Nick,” said Cadigan.
Add in a 31-yard pass reception from quarterback Matt Noonan, and Cappuccio is off to an electrifying start to his junior season.
“That’s a play we’ve been looking at all preseason, specifically for Stoneham,” said Cadigan, crediting Noonan’s strong throw to Cappuccio in the middle of the field. “That play starts with Robert Rich’s play-fake. Dan Thomai ran his route well to draw the cornerback.”
The other two members of the Vikings’ rushing contingent, seniors George Galuris and Robert Rich, also played very well. Galuris had 11 rushes for 40 yards, including a key first down on a quarterback keeper (set up by Noonan’s key three-yard gain one play earlier). Galuris, whose athleticism is off the charts, also booted a PAT, had a crucial long punt after a high snap – and oh by the way, shared the Black Shirt Defensive Player of the Game honors with Donovan Cassidy.
Rich averaged a robust seven yards per carry on six attempts before leaving the game with an injury.
DK Lauds the Offensive Line
Demetri Koutsouflakis credited the offensive line for helping to spring him for the winning touchdown.
“It first starts off with the guards in the front. They made the play happen. The weight room numbers came out to show on the field tonight,” offered Koutsouflakis in a post-game interview. “The play was a 39-buck sweep, just follow my guard and my fullback right up the middle, and we just punch it in, and that’s what we do.”
Koutsouflakis continued, “I just want to say thank you to my linemen, Ryan Harris, Matt Reardon, Vasili Tsiotos, Alessio Marcoccio, Donovan Cassidy – I love my boys up front.”
“Nick has a real good knack of running that play,” said Cadigan about the winning score. “He’s a big kid, very strong, and tough to tackle.”
Winthrop Impresses Stoneham coach
Stoneham head coach Bob Almeida, who’s done a terrific job with his program, said Winthrop’s defense denying his team scores after three long drives was a huge factor in the outcome.
Almeida was also impressed by Winthrop’s four running backs.
“We’re a pretty good tackling team, but their backs are strong and broke some tackles,” said Almeida. “We saw them on film, and their backs are fast. Their fullback [Rich] is very tough. Winthrop is a very good, veteran team. They were better than us tonight. I take my hat off to them. It’s possible we could meet again [in the playoffs], but there are a lot of good teams in the division. But we have to get in the playoffs first.”
Cassidy Recovers an Onside Kick
One of the team captains, Donovan Cassidy gave a textbook demonstration on how to hold your ground amidst opponents flying at you on an onside kick.
Cassidy ended Stoneham’s hopes instantly when he secured the football on the onside kick at the start of the second half.
“He did exactly what he’s supposed to do, which he does very often because he’s such a coachable kid,” praised Coach Cadigan. “He made a nice play on the ball.”
The linebacking trio of Donovan Cassidy, Philip Boncore, and Demetri Koutsouflakis also received high marks from Cadigan, noting their improvement as a group throughout the preseason.
“That’s been one of really bright spots defensively,” said Cadigan.
Ryan Harris Makes a Crucial Tackle
Captain Ryan Harris made a big play when he “stayed at home” and made a 1-on-1 tackle on Stoneham’s double handoff play.
“Ryan had a quiet game by the numbers standpoint because he was playing nose tackle, and that position against that offense is not going to generate much statistics,” said Cadigan.
Other defensive linemen helping to hold Stoneham to one touchdown were Gabe Grein, Alessio Marcoccio, Matt Reardon, and Vasili Tsiotos.
And speaking of big plays, sophomore Seth Sacco (who wears jersey No. 0) made a solid tackle on special teams’ coverage following Winthrop’s go-ahead touchdown in the fourth quarter.
Nick Romano and Sean Dolen are other sophomore special-teamers of note.
Seen in the Crowd
Former Winthrop head coach Tony Fucillo was on hand for the season opener at Miller Field. Fucillo will join his son, Anthony Fucillo, as an assistant coach on Anthony’s coaching staff at Belmont Hill.
Also in attendance was Curry College Director of Athletics Vinnie Eruzione, who remarkably played three Division 1 sports at the College of the Holy Cross.
And the proudest man in the house may have been Phil Boncore, watching his grandson, Philip Boncore, excelling for the Vikings’ defense. Mr. Boncore is a former Town Council President, a highly respected attorney, and a former national President of the Sons and Daughters of Italy. From football to hockey to baseball, Mr. Boncore has enjoyed following his grandson’s terrific three-sport career.
Winthrop Travels to Lynn to Play St. Mary’s Friday
It’s an early season showdown, to say the least, when Winthrop travels to Manning Field in Lynn to play Sean Driscoll’s defending state champion St. Mary’s High School Spartans.
St. Mary’s (1-0) has won 13 games in a row, which is the state’s third-longest active winning streak. St. Mary’s is the top-rated team in Division 6 and debuted at No. 16 in the Boston Globe’s Top 20 preseason poll. Kickoff is Friday at 5 p.m.