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Junior Rockets battle Mustangs

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Needham Junior Football traveled to Norwood on Sunday for a full lineup of games. In the competitive divisions, Needham came without a win despite some hard-fought games in sweltering heat.

A Squad – Norwood 28, Needham 14 – The eighth grade Junior Rockets (0-3) had a rematch of last year’s Bay State playoff game, facing a tough and rugged group of Mustangs. A late score at the end of the first half by Will Harris cut the deficit to 14-8 at the break.

In the second half, Needham let up two scores, but an excellent catch and run by Edgar Vasquez gave the Rockets their second touchdown of the game. Overall, A-squad played a solid game despite the defeat, and should take with them some serious momentum against Milton next week.

B Squad – Norwood 27, Needham 18– B Squad (2-2) limped into their matchup against an always-tough Norwood team on Saturday undersized due to numerous key injuries. Needham took it to Norwood from the opening kickoff with hard running by Tyler Closuit, Raphael Montero and Colin Sullivan behind offensive linemen Noah Patti, Sean Skaritanov, Scott Palmatier and Tommy Langford, allowing the Junior Rockets to take an 8-6 lead into the second quarter.

Then, the Needham defense did its part by causing a fumble, which the Needham offense pounded deep into Norwood territory on their ensuing drive. However, the failure to punch the ball in on fourth and goal from the Norwood one-yard line, and the subsequent 99-yard touchdown run by the Mustangs dug a hole that the seventh graders couldn’t dig themselves out of. Marcus Fuentes kept it close with a reverse touchdown in the third quarter, and returned a Montero block of a Norwood extra point 90 yards for a 2 point conversion. But it wasn’t enough as B-squad fell by eleven and now moves to .500 on the year.

C Squad – Norwood 13, Needham 0 – C Squad (1-3) played a tense game against a physical Norwood team that jumped out to a quick lead. Needham responded with lock-down defense and shutdown the Norwood attack in the second half. Defensive highlights included an interception by Tate Hoffmeister and great pressure by Gabe McCarthy and Sean Murphy.

The Needham offense had several deep drives but stalled out near the end zone. Tough yards gained by Andrew Spezzano, Tate Hoffmeister, Jase Hannigan, Spencer Chapman and George Addona with blocking upfront by Will Kizer, Connor Dempsey, Jimmy Rochford, Mike Hegarty and Gabe Quezada kept the game close.

The 2nd and 3rd grade cheerleaders do a successful stunt on Sunday.

The 2nd and 3rd grade cheerleaders do a successful stunt on Sunday.

D Squad – Norwood 20, Needham 6 – D Squad (2-2) lost a hard fought battle against a very good Norwood Squad. Despite giving up two early first quarter touchdowns, the Rockets defense tightened up and made several great plays behind the line of scrimmage. Cornerback Reno Salvant, nose tackle Alex Rutley, defensive end Dom Funke, linebacker Travis O’Brien, and defensive tackle Ty Beerbaum all hand stand out games, making great individual and group tackles. Linebacker Denis O’Donovan and safety Charlie Cianciolo almost picked off a long Norwood pass thanks to incredible positioning and instinct in the secondary.

On offense, wingbacks Harry Dummer and Travis O’Brien had good success with power running off the edge, both logging several first down runs behind the lead blocks by fullback Ben Schreiber, guard Max Andelman and tackle Charlie Simeone. Needham’s score came on a 50-yard pass where quarterback Jack Barret pitched it to Dummer, who hit streaking wingback Brandt Bickford for the long touchdown. Needham falls to 2-2 on the season but has three of their final four games at home.

E1 Squad vs. Norwood – E1 faced off on a hot and humid field and it was a hard fought game with Tenoch Mendez, Shawn Villa, Brady Bloch, Zoe Zalvan, Aiden Mack and Dean Mostafa doing their best to hold back a strong Norwood defensive line. The first half ended with a great run down the sidelines for 13 yards by Jake Heckman.

In the second half, the Rockets brought it together and really played well. AJ Scholz disrupted the backfield, Rory Kizer had four tackles and Tyler Langford chased down several ball carriers to keep Norwood gains to a minimum. Cornerbacks Kennith Ronchinsky and Brian DeGrandis made sure no plays got outside for large gains. On special teams, Will Sacher had a good return carrying multiple defenders on his back to the sidelines. Blocking by Yadiel and Yariel Lara as well as Emerson Wilson ensured a nice return.

E2 Squad vs. Norwood - E2 stayed hot as they faced off with Norwood in the heat. Quarterback Rory Funk’s rushing touchdowns and Grayden Loeb’s fumble recovery for a touchdown put Needham on the board early as the offensive line was tested by a tough and bigger Norwood front.

Matthew Mullaney did a little bit of everything, playing running back and some backup quarterback when called upon. Will Young’s running kept Norwood on there toes. Kicker Giovanni Virgilio kept them pinned back all day. Sam Drayer, Joza Wang and JT Ciccone played out of position at times to help fill the voids of injured players and each played very well. The defense was stellar only allowing one score all game, led by Robert Mahar, Colin Corbett, Nicholas Hebert, Cedric Steele and Dash Mendez with a sack. Jacob Donis shined once again tacking down a Norwood player and stopping a long run.

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

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