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Needham Junior Football returns to action

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Needham Junior Football opened the season on Saturday by hosting five games with long time rival, Wellesley, while the A squad took on Walpole.

A Squad (8th Grade) – Walpole 33, Needham 0 – The 8th grade Jr. Rockets led by quarterback, Drew Desing, were unable to establish a consistent running game early despite solid individual runs from the tandem backfield of Jack Kamke, Ruben Melkonian, James O'Connor, and Ryan Hurley. Tight end Kyle Corbett also showed flashes of promise with four receptions on the afternoon.

Despite the final score, the linebacking corps of PJ Corwin, O'Connor and Kamke were able to make solid tackles consistently throughout the game. First year players Graham Smith, Sam Danna, and Tyler Eng all made solid contributions on defense as well. The only two turnovers of the game were committed by Walpole with an interception by Kamke and a fumble recovery by Cam Hebert.

C Squad (6th Grade) – Wellesley 21, Needham 12 – The C Squad found itself quickly down in its matchup with Wellesley. Adjusting to its new defensive scheme, a few breakdowns led to Needham being down 14-0 midway through the first quarter. But C squad dug deep and dominated the second quarter, which led to two Rafael Montero touchdown runs - the first thanks to great lead blocking from Timmy Bruen, Owen Scholz, Tyler Closuit, Scott Palmatier and Tommy Langford, and the second behind crushing blocks from Conor Finnegan, Peter Greenes, Warren Gillis and Cam Fox. Rafael also completed a 30-yard pass to Paolo Aqualimpia on the drive.

The defense overcame its early struggles to play shutdown the rest of the way. Newcomers Josh Melia, Owen Scholz, George Darwin and Marcus Fuentes were all over the field. Melia had an interception and Angela Demaio a fumble recovery to keep the game close. Jake Sykes, Chanu Lim, Gerald Pendergast and Tyler Closuit came up with big tackles in the second half as well. Demaio also boomed a 41-yard punt to keep it close. Unfortunately, it wasn’t enough to overcome the early deficit as Wellesley held on for the nine-point victory.

D Squad (5th Grade) – Wellesley 30, Needham 0 – The Needham D squad had a tough loss this weekend to start the season against a powerful Wellesley team. Jase Hannigan had three long runs on great sweep blocking by Connor Dempsey, Cam Schreiber, Christian Cummings and Michael Hegarty, while newcomer Tyler Reif also had a couple of nice runs with lead blocking by Evan Dunn, Sean Murphy and Gabe Quesada. Another newcomer for the Rockets, Jimmy Rochford, had impressive runs in which he was able to shed multiple tackles. Lyle Corwin, normally a wingback, took over the starting center role and made his presence felt with key blocks throughout the game.

On defense, Needham’s Owen Kopf, Andrew Spezzano and Jase Hannigan were able to penetrate the Wellesley backfield and keep the Raiders on their toes, but the Raiders eventually found their rhythm with their rushing attack and took over the tempo of the game.

E1 Squad (4th Grade) – The 4th Grade Junior Rockets played a spirited contest against local rival Wellesley. QB Jack Barrett followed the lead blocking of wideout Adler Kukoleca and wingback Nolan Joyce for a 35 yard TD run to start the second quarter. Barrett found the end zone again on another QB keeper in the second half, taking advantage of good push blocking from offensive linemen Dom Hamwey, Andrew Carter, Ben Schreiber and Alex Rutley. Kicker Alex Rufo converted the E Squad’s first extra point of the year with a perfect down the middle shot.

Defensively, the Rockets were led by defensive tackle Charlie Simeonem, who broke through the offensive line for several tackles for loss. In addition, defensive end Sean Baker, linebacker Travis O’Brien, safety Dennis O’Donovan, and cornerback Matt Rutter all made key stops for the Junior Rockets defense.

E2 Squad (2nd/3rd Grade) – The Needham E2 squad had a great game against the Wellesley Raiders, with many of the players playing in their first ever tackle football game. It was a slow start in the first half, but the Junior Rockets dominated the second half, with their defense not allowing a first down throughout the final two quarters. Tackling efforts by Carson Dunn, A.J. Scholz and Colin Corbett allowed the Rockets to enforce their will on the defensive side of the ball in the second half. The Needham offense also had some great runs by Tyler Langford and Hanna McIntyre. Brady Bloch was error free snapping the ball at center.

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

Needham will host a full slate of games hosting Milton on 9/10.

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