BURLINGTON — There was a celebration at Varsity Field on Friday night as Burlington clinched a playoff spot with its 48-28 win over Stoneham. The Middlesex (Freedom) champion Red Devils will play the winner of the CAL/NEC (Division 2) on Nov. 27.
On a wall inside Burlington’s locker room is the phrase, “One team, one goal.” The goal Friday night was to be the more physical team and win the league.
“We put it all on the line,” said coach Shawn Maguire after Burlington won its third championship in eight years. “The kids had a great week of practice, were very emotional before the game, and they came out and did what they had to do. Very proud of these kids.”
The Red Devils held a 28-14 lead after a very physical first half. Stoneham received the ball to start the third quarter but Andrew Cann, who scored both Spartan touchdowns in the first half, was intercepted by Christien Morneweck, who returned it to the 1-yard line.
Anthony Cruz punched in the touchdown to give Burlington a commanding 35-14 advantage.
After forcing Stoneham to punt, the Red Devils used their backfield of Marcus O’Diah and Cruz to control the pace and get back in the end zone.
Trailing by 27, the Spartans fumbled a handoff in their own territory and Burlington recovered. That led to another touchdown by O’Diah.
O’Diah, who scored on the Red Devils’ second drive of the game, finished with 22 carries, 167 rushing yards, and three touchdowns. Cruz ran 15 times for 143 yards and three touchdowns, including a 70-yard scamper in the second quarter.
“It was a fake toss with a trap back the other way,” Cruz explained. “We were planning on that being big because of the formation we run with the tosses, and we figured they would bite on the toss and we would come right back with the trap. We figured it would be wide open and it was.”
Although Burlington had a huge lead in the third quarter, Stoneham fought until the final snap. Cann connected with Ryan Mooney on a 57-yard pass in the fourth quarter, leading to an Erick Bidot touchdown run.
On their next drive, the Spartans went 73 yards in just five plays. Cann found Mooney for a 43-yard gain, setting up another short rushing touchdown for Bidot.
However, it was too late at that point.
“We didn’t tackle well in the first half,” said Stoneham coach Bob Almeida. “You can’t make mistakes against them; if you do, you pay for it. We gave everything we had but we just faced the best team in the league.”