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.