By Kevin McCaskill Jr.
11/6/21 * 4:11 PM
(WESTFIELD) - Friday was the first night of the MIAA 🏈 Playoffs across the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. In Western Mass., the Westfield HS Bombers hosted Fitchburg HS, from Fitchburg, MA. Westfield is the #5 seed in Division 3; Fitchburg was #12.
(Westfield & Fitchburg team captains at center-field for coin toss)
The Bombers main objective in this game was to contain Fitchburg RB Anthony Oquendo.
(Fitchburg team captains after coin toss)
The first half was a defensive battle. Neither team got on the scoreboard in the first two quarters. Westfield got into the red-zone once but Freshman QB Jaxson St. Pierre threw an INT caught by Fitchburg DB Xavier Macharie.
(Jaxson St. Pierre)
After a nice performance by the Westfield HS Marching Band, both teams hit the field in their quests to Gillette.
Westfield got the spark they needed on special teams. DE Tyreek Mejia was put in game for a punt block play. After the ball was snapped, he got around the edge and blocked the punt by Fitchburg’s punter. Westfield recovered the ball. They were setup with great field position.
After several plays trying to score, Westfield RB Ryan Cimini ran the ball in for a TD. Cimini had a very good game. He ran hard all night. Cimini had a lot of carries and didn’t fumble once. After the EP, the Bombers led 7-0.
Fitchburg stitched together a long drive that spanned the third and fourth quarters. They were finally able to score on a run TD by RB Collin Dudek.
After Dudek’s TD, the real drama of the night ensued. Fitchburg was setting up to go for two in an odd formation. Westfield HC Rob Parent called a timeout to get his defense together. The players came back out on the field, and Fitchburg lined up in the same, odd, formation. They ran the play and it would have been successful but for a penalty. Fitchburg was called for illegal procedure - they didn’t have enough players on the line of scrimmage. They were moved back. The coaching staff decided to kick an EP. The EP missed and Westfield maintained their lead with about 3 minutes left in the game.
The Bombers got an important first down. They were able to kneel the ball a few times and win their opening round playoff game 7-6.
(Anthony Oquendo embraced by both coaches from Fitchburg and Westfield)
Ryan Cimini - 1 run TD
Collin Dudek - 1 run TD
After the game, I spoke to Westfield HC Rob Parent.
How does it feel getting your first playoff win @ home?
“I thought our kids gutted this thing out. I thought you couldn’t ask them to play any better. They did everything we asked them do. [Anthony Oquendo] is the best RB we have played all year. He is so big, so strong and so fast. Their offensive line is so good. I think those guys played a heck of a game up front for us. I think our linebackers played great. Those guys made all the plays they needed to make.”
How did you execute your defensive plan to stop Oquendo tonight?
“[We] knew that stopping him would never be the case. It was gonna be situational football…”
[Coach Parent informs me they play Plymouth South next week]
When does the preparation for that game start?
“As soon as we can get home and get our film set up, get it evaluated. Hopefully tonight or first thing tomorrow morning, exchange film with Plymouth…and get to work on Saturday night.”