Happy Saturday everyone, and as we close out November and get ready for December it’s time to answer the last November edition of Raider Friday Trivia. The last time Wellesley won both Powderpuff and the Thanksgiving game was…2017!
Thanksgiving Day has come and gone and we are now winding down Black Friday and what better time for another edition of Raider Friday Trivia. Today’s question is…When was the last time Wellesley won both the Powderpuff and Thanksgiving game in the same season (before this year)? Answer tomorrow!
Hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving, wherever and with whoever you celebrated. This morning for the 132nd time Wellesley and Needham took to the football field to renew the longest public school rivalry in the country. Could Wellesley avenge last year’s loss, lets find out!
Result for 11-28-19
Football: Wellesley 27 Needham 0
Team finishes 9-2 on the season. Congratulations on a great season and victory and best of luck to the seniors moving forward!
Every year on the day before Thanksgiving the Wellesley and Needham senior women meet in the annual PowderPuff football game, this year at Needham’s Memorial Field. A tradition within a tradition, Needham has traditionally held the upper hand however the Wellesley girls were eager this year to bring the trophy back down 135. Could they get it done, lets find out!
Result for 11-27-19
PowderPuff: Wellesley 9 Needham 0
Continuing our Wellesley preview I had a chance to catch up with Wellesley Media sports producer Rebekah Caron, to get her insights into the 2019 Raiders as they enter Thanksgiving Day. Here’s a look at what she had to say!
Q: Wellesley obviously has had a great season as they come in 8-2. What have you seen from the 2019 Raiders this season on the strengths/weaknesses front?
A: This Year especially I’ve seen the HS version of the Patriots in a lot of ways. They Utilize a fantastic Defense, where any Player can step up and Change the Game. Defensive Front, Clarence Bly & Captain Holt Fletcher always seem to make the big Plays, tackling for Losses or Pressuring the QB. Carl Callahan has lead the way in the Secondary, getting Key Interceptions, including a Huge Pick 6 in the Quarter Final Win over New Bedford, that helped a once close Game become a runaway Playoff Victory. When the Defense is On, it sparks big time the Offense. RB by committee has been very fun to watch this, with Chris Althoff, Jon Marven & Matt Segel sharing the Backfield duties. Each one brings their own Style to the Running Game and that can easily throw off Opponents Defense. Weaknesses, I haven’t seen much. To me it comes down to, some Games, too many Penalties & a Natick Playoff Game we’d all like to forget.
Q: Who are the key players for Wellesley this season that we should be watching out for?
A: The Offense thrives behind their Captain & QB Matt Maiona. He’s a Leader, Plain and Simple. And he confuses Opponents so well, a Game Changer whether thru the Air, or on the Ground. Being a consistent Double Threat has been huge. You can’t question his toughness either. Just one example, in a back and forth Game vs Newton North, Maiona fought for extra yardage on a QB Sneak. Comes out of the Pile with the First Down, but a right Thumb that is completely pushed out in a postion it should never be in, and calmly walks to the Sidelines. Misses a couple plays, gets the Thumb back in place, throwing hand mind you, and in OT leads the Raiders downfield and finds a way into the End Zone, scoring the Game Winning Touchdown…For Receivers, I’ve liked what I’ve seen in Slot from Chris Althoff and Teddy Komjathy. Anthony Perez has stood out the most to me, and seems to be Maiona’s favorite Target as well as the Touchdowns keep getting hauled in by Perez. It’s been fun to watch!
Q: What does Wellesley need to do to get a win and avenge last year’s loss?
A: I think everyone’s been saying this year Raiders are going to roll over Needham. And though I 100% agree, Raiders as a Team need to block that out. This Game still needs to be played and won on the Field. Show up tomorrow with a Chip on your Shoulder, Be Relentless on Defense, and Look to your QB Captain Matt Maiona to lead the way yet again, this time for the very last time, in a Raider Uniform. And then we can hear everyone’s favorite two words…Running Clock, oh sorry that’s mine. RAIDERS WIN.
Q: On the flip side, what does Needham need to do if they want to upset the Raiders and extend their win streak to 2?
A: Pray for a Miracle.
Q: On a personal note is there one particular moment/game that stands out for you from your time covering this rivalry?
A: I think we can all agree a Memory we all will never forget is the Chance Raiders had to play at Fenway Park. To have the Green Monster in the Background, while they played their hearts out on the Field, will always be Special. But for me, I really loved the last time Raiders played at Home in 2017. All year, Senior Jack Tishman was their Starting QB and did a fantastic job. But sadly, was injured and could not play that Thanksgiving Game. Then a Sophomore, all the Pressure went to Matt Maiona as QB. I thought Maiona did outstanding, to come in on such an Important Game Day, throw for a Touchdown, and in a back and forth Game, Raiders would come from Behind and win by 3, the victory sealed by a Maiona Interception to decide it as well. That Game had it all too, with Senior Josh Cohen scooping up a Blocked Extra Point Attempt and taking it in Untouched, 94 Yards for the Score. It was Packed that Day at Hunnewell Field, and it was great to see that in Action, while hearing the Wellesley Crowd go wild.
With less than 24 hours till kickoff we now take a look at the 2019 Wellesley Raiders who are looking to avenge last year’s loss to the Rockets. Here’s a look at how the Raiders got here!
Beat King Phillip 19-14
Lost to Natick 30-0 in D2 South Semifinals
Wellesley 21 Weymouth 6
Wellesley 34 East Bridgewater 7
Wellesley 38 Walpole 12
Wellesley 36 Newton North 33 (OT)
Natick 14 Wellesley 13
Wellesley 35 Brookline 0
Wellesley 36 Framingham 6
Wellesley 42 New Bedford 20 D2 South Quarterfinals
Natick 30 Wellesley 0 D2 South Semifinals
Wellesley 19 King Phillip 14
As we continue our look at the 2019 Needham Rockets heading into Thanksgiving I had a chance again this year to catch up with Chris Dugan, sports producer at the Needham Channel to get his take on the 2019 Rockets season as well as the Thanksgiving tilt. Here’s a look at what he had to say!
Q: Needham obviously has struggled this season as they come in 2-8. What have you been from the 2019 Rockets this season on the strengths/weaknesses front?
A: This has definitely been a rebuilding year for the Rockets after graduating their most talented class since the 2011 group that went to the Super Bowl. With that said, their main weakness that has affected them has been their inexperience. Many of the starters and other players in big roles had limited or no varsity experience before this year. I give kudos to them and the coaching staff because there has been notable improvement on both sides of the ball as the season has gone on, so the effort is clearly there. Their perseverance through a tough season might be their biggest strength. It is hard for any team to go from the success they had last year to the struggles they have experienced in 2019, but they still show up and compete on every play.
Q: Who are the key players for Needham this season, that we should be watching out for?
A: Key players on offense are captains Odahri Hibberts and Tyler Reid. Both have breakaway speed. With Matt Smith at Duke now, the 3-headed monster from last year is down to 2 so teams have been able to focus more attention on both of them. They are still plenty capable of busting out a big play. On defense, Matt Hood has been phenomenal on the defensive line. He’s one of those players that just seems to be everywhere – coming up with a big sack, batting down passes, and blocking field goals.
Q: What does Needham need to do to get a win and extend their win streak to 2?
A: If Needham wants to win and pull off the Thanksgiving “upset,” I think they need a big game from their offensive line. It sounds cliche and seems easy, but when the Rockets have struggled up front in games, things tend to spiral out of control. Also, I think a lot of people might be expecting Wellesley to roll in this one. The Raiders only had one loss in the regular season and are playing at home this year. However, if Needham can get a quick start, I think it puts a lot of pressure on Wellesley and will help the young guys for the Rockets play loose. If I’m Needham, I’m not afraid to get creative on offense.
Q: On the flip side, what does Wellesley need to do if they want to avenge last year’s loss to the Rockets?
A: If Wellesley can get pressure on QB Will McDonald early and often, I think that’s big trouble for Needham. I’ve been impressed by McDonald’s progress throughout the season. His one downfall is that he tends to hold on to the ball too long when he’s getting pressured, which leads to some big sacks instead of just throwing the ball away.
Q: On a personal note this is your 6th Thanksgiving game as Needham Channel sports director, is there one particular moment/game that stands out for you from your time covering this rivalry?
A: Obviously the Fenway game in 2015 always stands out. The atmosphere was tremendous. Usually high school games at professional venues don’t feel as loud, which takes away from one of the best parts of high school sports. However, I remember the Fenway game was packed with fans in the lower sections and still loud (even though we were up top in the pavilion seats filming). It was an instant classic. Defensive game all the way through, and Needham’s two clutch goal line stands were special. I still get chills from Joe Gowetski’s 100-yard pick-6. Also, last year is another game that stands out – not just because of the record cold temps. It was another defensive battle and Matt Smith had the game winning kick return TD. Smith is one of the best athletes I’ve had the chance to cover at Needham so to see him have his Thanksgiving moment in his last high school football game was super cool.