Needham Junior Football kicks off 2017

Third grader Giovanni Virgilio carries the ball for the Needham Junior Rockets versus Weymouth. Photo by Janet Barrett

Needham kicked off its 2017 youth football season with a full lineup of games in Weymouth. Torrential rains made for some tough conditions, but the Needham gridiron squads stood strong. Needham went 1-3 in the competitive divisions and travels to Newton next week.

A Squad – Weymouth 19, Needham 8 – The eighth grade junior Rocket A-squad (0-1) lost their opener to a tough Weymouth team.  A-squad had a difficult time moving the ball on offense all afternoon against a big defensive line, but managed to put together some tough runs by Brendan Morley, Griffin Colwell, Edgar Vazquez and Isaiah Groupee.  On defense, the junior Rockets were solid overall with some nice plays by Hanson Miller, Brady Ross, Matt Filippine, Ryan Hannigan, and Nick Dugan.

B Squad – Needham 30, Weymouth 6 – The defense of the Needham B squad (1-0) was absolutely dominant on Sunday in Weymouth, shutting out the powerful Wildcat offensive attack. Ben Chapman had a game for the ages making several sacks, tackles for loss, and putting the opposing quarterbacks under pressure all day. The interior Rocket defensive line, led by George Darwin, Timmy Bruen, Noah Patti, Gerald Pendergast, Peter Greenes, Conor Finnegan and Owen Scholz, shut down Weymouth’s rushing attack. Daniel Altshuler had a fumble recovery. Josh Melia put the game away with a pick-six late in the fourth quarter.

The offense was slow out of the gates but eventually caught fire. Marcus Fuentes scored two first half touchdowns, including one on a fumbled snap where he outran the entire defense. Tyler Closuit showed off some powerful running in the third quarter that led to Needham’s third touchdown of the day. Fuentes was also able to hit three of four extra points thanks to some great long snapping by Will Sullivan and holding by Colin Sullivan in the wet conditions. Needham’s centers Tommy Langford, Matthew Hebert and Wyatt Fromm did a great job snapping the wet balls.

C Squad – Weymouth 14, Needham 6 – C Squad (0-1) showed promise despite the tough loss to Weymouth. A huge 75-yard touchdown by Spencer Chapman, several first downs by newcomer Tate Hoffmeister and solid defensive play by Jase Hannigan, Charlie Fondo and George Addona kept the game close. Unfortunately, a late touchdown gave Weymouth the season-opening victory.

D Squad – Weymouth 13, Needham 8 – D Squad (0-1) began the 2017 season with a long first drive capped with a touchdown run by fullback Dom Funke and an extra point by Alex Rufo. Linebacker Ben Schreiber was a standout on defense, forcing and recovering a fumble as well as running a kick off back 50 yards. Solid defensive line play by defensive tackle Emmett Lockwood-Mullaney and nose tackle Alex Rutley disrupted the Weymouth offense behind the line of scrimmage.

Despite several long runs by running back Harry Dummer behind the blocking of offensive linemen Charlie Simeone, James Keefe, Reno Salvant, and Ty Beerbaum, the junior Rockets were only able to score the one touchdown on the afternoon.

E1 Squad vs. Weymouth – Zoe Zalvan, Yariel and Yadiel Lara, Daniil Landau, Brian DeGrandis and Tenoch Mendez saw their first action against another team. E1 was able to get to the half holding Weymouth out of the end zone while putting together several long drives of their own.

Special thanks to Lottie Currie, Dalessia Muir, Sabrina Notkin and Shay Solomon for helping keep the spirits up during the game.

E2 Squad vs. Weymouth - The E2 junior Rockets had a great start to the season on Saturday against Weymouth. Quarterback Rory Funk’s rushing and passing touchdowns and Grayden Loeb’s kickoff return for a touchdown provided all of the offense that Needham would need. Running backs Matthew Mullaney and Will Young were hard to stop and moved the ball all day. Outside threats Robert Mahar and Jacob Donis were a constant concern for the Weymouth defensive backs and kicker Giovanni Virgilio kept Weymouth deep in their end with a series of strong kickoffs.

The defense, led by Collin Corbett, Dash Mendez, Cedric Steele, Sam Drayer, and Nicholas Hebert were able to keep Weymouth off the board.

Note that scores are not kept for the E1 and E2 instructional levels of AYF Football.

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