Chelsea captures Commonwealth Small title
MIDDLETON - The Commonwealth Small, with the departure of Minuteman Tech to independent status, is a shrunken conference, but to the Red Devils, winning its title is huge.
Chelsea (5-4, 2-1) took a 14-6 victory at North Shore yesterday, clinching the team’s first playoff berth and league title in 16 years.
The school’s last major victory was a Super Bowl championship in 1995.
“It’s something these kids had in mind since the beginning of the season’’ said Red Devils coach Mike Stellato, who will be in his first playoff since winning the Super Bowl with St. Mary’s in 2005. “It just shows the blood, sweat, and tears this team put into it to make this possible. Our football program is like an extended family in Chelsea.
“I’m just as proud of all of them as I would be with my own two boys.’’
North Shore (2-8, 2-1) got off to a hot start.
Chelsea’s three-and-out opening drive forced Juan Martinez to punt, and North Shore’s Nick Brooks did the rest, rumbling 75 yards with the return to score the only points of the half.
After gaining 69 yards in the first half, North Shore was stymied in the second half, amassing just 29 yards.
“We could not get anything going in the second half,’’ said North Shore coach Paul Worth. “I give all the credit to how Chelsea’s defense played.’’
“Our defense played outstanding,’’ said Stellato. “We had the mishap on the punt return, but other than that our defense played outstanding.’’
Senior two-way back Hector Rivera’s third-quarter interception led to the first of his two scores, a 29-yard rush, and gave the Red Devils the lead for good.
“That’s what we expect from a kid like Hector Rivera, a senior who has played for four years and has given everything to our program’’ said Stellato. “He just shows what a great athlete he is.
“It just shows that he did not want to see his team lose today and that he was going to do anything possible.’’
Rivera, with his team up, 7-6, scored his second touchdown on a 5-yard rush with eight minutes left.
“It feels great to be able to help my team win,’’ Rivera said. “We worked hard all season long for this and to be able to win this way means a lot for both me and my team.’’
Chelsea will play its final regular-season game Thanksgiving against Matignon before moving on to play Cathedral, the winner of the Catholic Central Small, Nov. 29.