Raider Weekend Recap and Weekly Schedule

So before we get to the weekly schedule with one big game in particular there were some very noteworthy competitions that took place this weekend that need to be mentioned. First of all the Raider Cross Country teams took to the track in the MIAA State Championship meet yesterday in Westfield and it was quite a day for Thomas D’Anieri who took him the D1 State title and the boys came in 5th overall while the girls finished in 11th. Then today the girls swim team competed in the MIAA State Meet at Harvard taking 4th place overall. Congratulations to all 3 teams on terrific seasons! Now to this weeks schedule which while there are only two events both are very important and special in their own ways.

Schedule for week of 11-23

Wednesday 11-25

Powderpuff @ Needham 1 pm

Thursday 11-26

Football vs Needham (Fenway Park) 9 am

Raider Friday Trivia Answer

So it’s time for another answer to Raider Friday Trivia question and the answer to today’s question is… John Fadule. That’s right John was the starting quarterback for the 2013 Raider team that defeated Needham 22-6 thanksgiving day for their only win in the last 5 years. John currently is the starting quarterback as a freshmen walk on for Boston College who coincidentally enough plays at Fenway Park tomorrow night against Notre Dame.

Raider Friday Trivia

Also to stick with the theme of the Thanksgiving game here is today’s Raider Friday Trivia question. The question is what current Division 1 Quarterback was starter for the Raiders the last time they beat Needham back in 2013? Answer will be posted later tonight.

Wellesley/Needham Trivia Answers

Thank you to all off you who commented with your answers and now I am pleased to present the official answers of the 5 pack of Wellesley/Needham trivia questions.

  1. The first Wellesley/Needham game was played back in 1882
  2. Wellesley owns the overall series lead currently 60-58 with 9 ties
  3. The last overtime game was in 2010 when Needham beat Wellesley 20-17 at Needham’s Memorial Field
  4. This is the 128th installment of this rivalry
  5. Wellesley won the first ever meeting of this rivalry by the score of 4-0

Wellesley Needham Trivia

So in the spirit of throw back Thursday I have 5 trivia questions pertaining to the Wellesley Needham rivalry that renews a week from today again at Fenway Park (9 am). Think you know the answers, feel free to comment with either one answer or all 5.

  1. What year was the first Wellesley/Needham game played?
  2. Who owns the all time series lead currently?
  3. When was the last overtime game in this rivalry?
  4. What number game is this in the rivalry?
  5. Who won the first ever meeting between the two towns and by what score?

Wellesley Needham Preview Video

So in this video post Peter Santo, Wellesley High School senior and broadcaster for Wellesley Media for some of the Wellesley football games this season take a look at the Wellesley perspective of the 128th Wellesley Needham game coming up a week from tomorrow at Fenway Park. You can find the video on my youtube page. click on Wellesley Needham preview

Girls Basketball To Play At Garden

According to the Wellesley High Girls Hoops twitter page @raiderghoops the girls will be playing their archrivals the Needham Rockets Sunday January 24th at none other than TD Garden in Boston. This will be part of the Good Sports Invitational which is in its 3rd year and will be the second time a Wellesley High team has been part of this event as the Boys beat St John’s Prep in the innagural event back in 2013. More information is sure to come.

Behind Enemy Lines (Needham Preview)

As we get closer and closer to Thanksgiving Day it is now time to take a closer look at this year’s edition of the opponent the Needham Rockets. Brendan Walsh PA voice of the Rockets and also broadcaster for the Needham Channel was kind enough to answer some questions for me about this year’s Rocket team who will enter Thanksgiving with a 7-3 record. Here is what he had to say.

Q: Needham comes into Thanksgiving 7-3, what you have seen from the team this season as a whole, and what we should be looking for coming into Thanksgiving?

A: It has been a very successful season for Needham football this year. First they went 5 and 0 in the Carey Division to capture the title for the 4th time in the past 7 years. Second, they advanced to the Division 2 South Sectional title game for the first time since this format was introduced for the 2013 season. Third, and the jury is still out on this, they have been invited to play at Fenway Park on Thanksgiving Day, obviously a win against their ancient rival would be a third major accomplishment for the team. The disappointments of the season to date can be seen in a tale of two seasons. Needham opened the season with a very frustrating loss (Wellesley can commiserate) to Milton in Milton. The Rockets moved the ball at will on the ground and scored early and often and had a couple of leads on the Wildcats, inexperience in the secondary and poorly timed turnovers in the second half spelled doom in a 34 to 24 loss in what was a very winnable game. The next week brought a second frustrating 20-6 loss to Walpole in Needham in a game the Rockets simply didn’t play well enough in a game that was very winnable. The next five games against their Carey Division foes were all wins behind a very tough defense and the usual punishing Needham power running game from the I formation.

The playoffs brought two home games for the first time ever. (Due in no small part to the Wellesley upset loss vs Braintree) The Rockets thumped King Phillip at home 24 to 0, definitely the signature win of the season avenging last season’s playoff loss to the Warriors in Wrentham. The second playoff game was a tougher than expected 13 to 6 win over a very improved Braintree team Needham had dispatched easily earlier in the season. The other big win was a 13 to 10 decision in Needham over Newton North. The Tigers had won in 2014 in Newton first their first win in 6 years vs Needham and did a fair share of chirping. The Rockets viewed it as the critical game to recapture the Carey title  Finally, Needham is coming off a crushing 43 to 0 loss at Marshfield in a game which was as one sided as the score indicated. The belief in Needham is that the Rams are a great team that will defend their state title which played at their peak while the Rockets played very poorly after falling behind 16 to 0 in the opening seven minutes of the game. The summary would be that Marshfield were a great team playing on their best day and Needham were a good team playing their worst game. The up side for Needham is they will definitely be looking to end an otherwise successful season by beating Wellesley to expel the taste of the bitter defeat in Marshfield.

Q: Who are some key players from Needham who have helped the team to such a successful season as they did earn a berth in the D2 South title game?

A: Needham can score but are definitely lead by their defense. The leader on defense is #58 the two time captain inside linebacker Joe Gowestski. He is 6’2 225lbs tackling machine who can run very well. The also have  a very strong defensive line in senior Tom Baker #73 who at 6’3 235lbs and a possible Ivy League recruit at defensive end. He is joined by nose tackle, junior Kevin Bruce #40 and D.C. Cox #50 who both go in the 225 to 240lbs range and are quick and physical defensive linemen. The secondary is lead by senior captain #4 Lucas Goldman a 2 year starter and corner #10 Luke Pascucci who transferred back to Needham from Belmont Hill last year. Dylan Child #49 lead the team in interceptions, including a spectacular 60 yard Td return earlier in the season. The Needham defense figures to give the struggling Raider offense a tough time on Thanksgiving Day.

Offensively, the Rockets are led by 3 players, Tailback Jared Sklar #35 has rushed for over a 100 yards in almost all the Rocket wins. He is a physically punishing runner who does most of his damage between the tackles. I would expect him to carry it at 20 times and probably more. The Quarterback is #6 senior Captain Sam Foley who has tossed 9 TD passes most of them to wide receiver #21 sophomore John Andre. Andre is a smaller lighting quick receiver who also returns kicks and runs speed sweeps from his wide out position. He is definitely Needham’s home run hitter. The other two targets are #89 Luke Geraghty who made a highlight TD catch against King Phillip which won him a high 5 award from Channel 5 (google the youtube story) and #85 junior Brendan Smith who at 6’5 is a tough cover and red zone threat. The Rockets will  run the ball over 80% from the I formation and pound away at the Wellesley defense for better or worse. Geraghty missed the Marshfield game with an injury.

Q: From a Needham perspective what makes this Wellesley/Needham rivalry so special?

A: The Needham Wellesley rivalry is special because of the tradition form the Needham perspective. It is great to be part of the oldest rivalry and to play it on Thanksgiving day. It is a uniquely Needham and Wellesley thing that is part of a greater American tradition of Thanksgiving, a great American holiday. I also think a little unfairly that the Needham side likes to think of Wellesley as the  rich kids of affluence and Needham as the more common people. It might have been true in the distant past but it would be hard to think of Needham as anything other than a town of privilege like Wellesley these days. Needham Football is especially proud they have dominated in recent years and the current players minus one year have known only victory in the rivalry and the freshmen and JV games have also been almost a white wash for Needham in the past five years.

Q:  What has the reaction been from Needham players and fans a like to the game being played at Fenway this year?

A: The overwhelming response to the game being played at Fenway has been positive. The hope in Needham until last Friday night was they would play at Fenway one week and Gillette the next. The Needham Touchdwown Club has purchased boxes for the game and I anticipate a great crowd if the weather is good.

Q: Other thoughts about both these programs going forward?

A: I think this year was kind of a tipping point in a positive direction for the Raiders. This senior group is the first class who went through youth football in a Wellesley only program in the grade based system. It has done Wellesley football a lot of good. There are great talented classes in the pipeline for Wellesley especially the current 7th grade class which has been expertly coached by a good friend of mine Jim Fadule. Jim as I am sure you know was a part of the Wellesley High school staff this year. If Wellesley can hold on to the lion share of the players in the youth program (private school losses traditionally hurt the program) they will have some great teams in a few years. The 7th grade group could be truly special in my view. The Needham sophomore class was a very dominant youth team and the Rockets should be very strong for the next two years at least.

Wellesley/Needham Rivalry From Alumni Perspective

So as we dive in this week to the upcoming annual tradition that is the Wellesley/Needham game, we take a look at this rivalry today from an alum’s point of view. Kyle Souza (08) played for the Wellesley High Football team for all four years of high school as an offensive/defensive lineman, and in his career saw the Raiders go 2-2 on thanksgiving day versus the Rockets. Kyle was kind enough to answer some questions for us about his perspective and memories from the rivalry, here’s what he had to say.

Q: Before you started at Wellesley High School what did you know and what was your perception of the Wellesley-Needham game?

A: I’ll be completely honest, I knew little to nothing about the rivalry.  I remember that my family and I would drive through Needham in search of houses before we officially moved to Wellesley, so in a way I became familiar with both towns.  I just did not know that this was one of the oldest sports rivalries in the country until I joined the football team my freshman year.

Q: How if at all did that perception change from freshmen year to senior year?

A: I remember standing on the sidelines of the first Thanksgiving game I have ever attended as a freshman football player, and not really understanding the real impact that the rivalry had on the team and the town overall.  I did sense the disappointment of the 2004 varsity team when Needham defeated them that year, but to me it was like being defeated by any other team.  Then when I was on the varsity team during my senior year in 2007, I really understood what the Thanksgiving day tradition was really like after facing them every year as our final game of the season, especially since we lost that particular year to Needham.  It finally came full circle for me when we experienced the disappointment of the loss but knowing that we gave it our all.

Q: What are your fondest memories from the Wellesley/Needham games?

A: I would say one of my fondest memories was the game during my freshman year.  The freshman team was actually the only one that defeated Needham that season, and if I remember correctly it was a pretty close game which makes it that much more epic.

Q: Why do you think this rivalry is so special from a Wellesley player/alum/fan point of view?

A: I think the fact alone that this tradition has been going on for over a hundred years is a very special thing, and that the fans and alumni of various generations can get together to celebrate this ongoing rivalry.  And not to mention that most players and fans alike have an epic Thanksgiving meal waiting for them after the effort they put into the game and the season.  It really is a great way to finish off the regular season whether the team goes to the Superbowl or not.