FOXBOROUGH — Playing on the biggest stage, Melrose stuck with its dominant ground game Saturday in the Division 4 Super Bowl at Gillette Stadium.
Melrose handed the ball to junior running back Isaac Seide early and often and leaned on an excellent defense to come away with a 21-0 win over Nashoba Regional, securing the first state title in program history.
“Hard work eventually pays off. That’s the lesson,” said Melrose coach Tim Morris, whose squad was denied in the Division 3 Super Bowl by Dartmouth in both 2014 (14-7) and 2015 (26-21).
“That’s what we tell our guys and that’s what we practice. I’ve been doing this 25 years, so it’s a long time coming.”
Seide, who scored 10 touchdowns in Melrose’s five playoff games to reach the state final, amassed 184 rushing yards and two scores on 28 carries as the Red Raiders (13-0) won without completing a pass.
“All year long Isaac’s been getting it done and he just keeps getting better,” said Morris. “We just have to keep working and he’ll break one. We grinded out a few and there weren’t too many explosive runs for him, but he got the job done today.”
After both teams came up empty on their first two possessions, the 5-foot-9-inch Seide broke a 36-yard run off left tackle. Seven plays later, he finished the lone scoring drive of the first half with a 1-yard run.
Seide accounted for 184 of Melrose’s 203 yards from scrimmage. He opened the second half with a personal 70-yard scoring drive on six rushes, rumbling for his second touchdown from 15 yards out for a 14-0 cushion.
“I give all credit to the [offensive] line,” said Seide. “Even when things weren’t going well at first, they still found a way to make holes and gaps when they weren’t there.”
Nashoba quarterback Sam Bolinsky appeared to suffer a leg injury on the Chieftains’ first drive. The junior returned briefly, but was unable to continue, forcing Nashoba to move senior receiver Breese Hill under center.
With Nashoba (10-2) adjusting its offense, Melrose limited the Central champions to 61 yards from scrimmage in the first half.
In the third quarter, Melrose senior linebacker Adam Caffey blitzed the A gap for a key stop on third down to end a Nashoba drive. Later in the quarter, sophomore Chris Cusolito picked off Hill on fourth and 5, returning the ball 55 yards to set up a 1-yard touchdown keeper by quarterback Charlie Stanton.
In the fourth quarter, senior linebacker Jack Whitley came up with an interception to lock up the win.
“It didn’t start to dawn on us until that last play,” Seide said of winning a state championship.
“It feels amazing. It feels like we made history and we showed the younger generations in Melrose that you can do this. You can go out and win a Super Bowl.”
at Gillette Stadium, Foxborough
MEL — Isaac Seide 1 run (Mike Calvet kick)
MEL — Isaac Seide 15 run (Mike Calvet kick)
MEL — Charlie Stanton 1 run (Mike Calvet kick)
RUSHING — MEL, Isaac Seide 28-184, Colin Kiernan 2-10, Charlie Stanton 6-9; NAS, Breese Hill 12-49, Kyle Hume 12-48, Alex Childs 4-15, Sam Bolinsky 1-1, Brendan Lee 1-1.
PASSING — MEL, Charlie Stanton 0-2-0-0; NAS, Breese Hill 8-15-0-59, Sam Bolinsky 1-3-0-3.
RECEIVING — NAS, Bennett MacGregor 4-36, Mike Noonan 1-13, Breese Hill 1-10, Robert Ryan 1-7, Max Parrow 2-3.
Nate Weitzer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.