MELROSE — With star running back Chris Cusolito sidelined by injury, Melrose still found dominance with its ground attack to facilitate a 35-7 Thanksgiving victory over Wakefield at Fred Green Field.
Melrose (11-0) clinched the Middlesex Freedom League title while winning the 60th edition of its holiday rivalry with Wakefield (6-5). Melrose leads the overall series, 58-40-6, but Wakefield holds a 30-29-1 edge in Thanksgiving games.
Cusolito, who has a Division 4-leading 25 touchdowns, is dealing with a fractured fibula suffered in the Red Raiders’ 41-7 win over Revere in the North final. He hopes to be cleared for Melrose’s D4 Super Bowl matchup against Plymouth South at Gillette Stadium a week from Saturday (3:30 p.m.).
“We’ve got some young backs that just keep improving,” said Melrose coach Tim Morris. “We’ve spread the ball around all year long and today wasn’t any different, just one less guy to share the ball with.”
With Cusolito watching from the sideline on crutches, junior Matt Hickey (10 carries, 132 yards, 3 touchdowns), and senior captains William Pesce (4 carries, 91 yards, touchdown) and Sean Hebert (3 carries, 51 yards, touchdown) led a strong ground attack that compiled 321 yards in the runaway victory.
Melrose has outscored its opponents, 455-105, during an undefeated season, and seeks its second Super Bowl title in three years a week from Saturday.
“It’s always tough to be on the sideline, but we have a great group of guys and a phenomenal team,” said Cusolito. “We’ve got a lot of weapons and everybody steps up when we need it. It’s been a special year and it doesn’t matter who we play, we always know we’re going to give our best.”
Nate Weitzer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.