We have gone under the 24 hour mark till kickoff and now it’s time to take a look at this year’s Wellesley Raiders, who enter Thanksgiving with a 5-5 record. The Raiders finished their regular season 3-4, missing the playoffs but bounced back nicely in the consolation rounds, winning 2 out of their last 3 heading into their showdown with the Rockets. I was able to catch up with Rebekah Caron, sports producer at Wellesley Media, to get her insights into this years Raider team as they get ready to host the Rockets tomorrow, here’s what she had to say!
Q: What have been your overall impressions of this year’s team, as they head into Thanksgiving?
A: I’ve liked what I’ve seen, obviously losing to Walpole & Hingham wasn’t what they wanted. But they lost a LOT of their core offense from last year, & seeing them in their home opener run over CC really showed what an Impact Raiders offense can have. And of course, the defense. No matter who graduates, they still hold a core defense that can be consistent &suffocating, the duo of Gus Saint Fort & Josh Cohen in the middle continues to be game changing.
Q: Which players have stood out most to you, and what players have surprised you most this season?
A: QB & Capt Jack Tishman has been a leader from the first snap. He’s got the arm, & can do a lot of damage down the field. But it’s also his running skills that stand out. Running the QB Option, Tishman can & will eat up a ton of Real Estate. I think losing too offensive players like Brendan Dolan& Grant Chryssicas is a void that honestly you can’t 100% fill, but what surprised me was how much D’Aunte Moore & Hugh Callahan made their own name as Wide Receiver’s and were instrumental in Wellesley’s victories this season. I think the most surprising though, is the Freshman RB, Shiloh White. Breakout Speed up the middle, down the sidelines, not big on size, still White is tough to tackle.
Q: The team obviously missed the playoffs this year for the first time since 2014, what do you think was the biggest factor behind that?
A: Despite all the positives I mentioned, there was also just too many
inconsistencies with this year’s team. Getting blown out by Hingham & on the road at Milton was surprising as contest with these 2 opponents the last few seasons have been competitive, so there would be games where the offense &defense would dominate, but other games defense would not be able to stop the opponent & Raiders would find themselves down early & big, and not be able to cut the deficit. And those inconsistencies in the end really impacted the outcome of games and miss the playoffs.
Q: Having been covering the Thanksgiving game and Raider sports in general for the 7 years, what makes the Needham rivalry so special?
A: This rivalry I’ve said from day one, is Red Sox/Yankees no matter the
sport. It’s heated, its intense, there so much talent on both sides, even if team records may be different, the competitiveness is never missing once game time hits. Every player when they come in as Seniors, every game is important, but the question always is, yeah but did you beat Needham your senior year? Now for Needham/Wellesley FB, what are we at? The 130th Thanksgiving contest? This rivalry means just as much now, as it did that first year, so despite it being well over 100 years the rivalry has never lost its steam. And for FB what sets it apart even more I think, is that during the regular season schedule, any other HS sport, these teams would meet up. But For FB, Rockets and Raiders don’t play each other. The first time they meet is at Thanksgiving, so all that tension, all that intensity is ‘bottled’ up the whole season, ready to just battle for 4 Quarters. It truly is a HS rivalry like no other!
Q: What does Wellesley need to do in this year’s game to get their second straight win over the Rockets?
A: Be consistent, don’t make the mental mistakes. Just run the ball down Rockets Throats, use Shiloh White, Run the Option for Jack Tishman. Run it successfully and the play action will just fall into place. Tishman does an excellent job on the QB Rollout. O Line give Tishman time, & WR D’Aunte Moore & Hugh Callahan will help do the rest. This is the last HS Game ever for 19 Seniors. Just leave it all on the field. Hold nothing back & make some memories you won’t forget.