CHELMSFORD – Football can be a very emotional game as the Rams can attest to after their final league game on Saturday afternoon at McCarthy Middle School, home of the Lowell Catholic Crusaders of the Commonwealth Conference Large School Division.
“We were very aware that this game was dedicated by the team to coach Mark Donovan,” said running back Caleb Caceres. “The coaches and students in the upper class let us know that he would be looking at us from ‘up there’ and we wanted to make him happy.”
Donovan would have been very happy indeed with this rather unbalanced victory, a 44-6 bombardment from the home side.
“This match was dedicated to our friend and (Hall of Fame wrestling) coach Mark Donovan (who passed away last week),” victorious coach Al Costabile said after the victory. “I’m sure Coach ‘Dunni’ – I also like to remind him of his Italian heritage ‘- was smiling at the effort of all the players today.”
Coach Donovan was also an employee of the Middlesex Sheriff’s Office. To honor his memory, the Sheriff’s Honorary Color Guard was on hand to carry the flags of the national anthem on the field before the match. There were emotions visible on the Shawsheen touch after the national anthem.
The game didn’t have the kind of start Shawsheen was hoping for, with Lowell Catholic making two long runs in the first quarter while keeping the Rams down to three tries and a punt between those records. But let’s credit the Rams’ defense which folded but didn’t break.
The first practice ended when Wilmington senior linebacker Shane Costello sacked Crusaders eighth-year quarterback Kaden Silton for a loss of nine yards, forcing the first punt.
The second practice of eleven games was on the Shawsheen Tech 14-yard line. In fourth and one of 14, senior tackle Xavier Santiago relieved Silton without a win and the Rams took over.
On the next play, Caceres kicked off with a ten-yard sprint for the first down as the clock expired on a scoreless first quarter. As practice dragged into the second quarter, the Rams would end up moving the ball 81 yards in six games for the score.
The youngest player on the pitch was set to lead his team loaded with upper-class students, while freshman Sidney Tildsley was in charge of the next three quarters. Caceres had four carries for four straight drive downs totaling 63 yards. He also benefited from an unsportsmanlike penalty on the hosts and a first and a goal from the nine-yard line. Tildsley ran for the touchdown at the 9:17 mark, and he added the two-point conversion after two back-to-back encroachment penalties on the defense and the 8-0 lead.
In the Crusaders’ very first play, defensive back Tildsley caught Silton’s pass at the 33-yard line, leading to another Shawsheen strike that covered 33 yards in five games.
After a 25-yard completion from quarterback Tildsley to Mavrick Boudreau who saw the wide receiver pushed over the one-yard line, Tildsley dived from that for the score of 14-0. Wilmington kicker Jared Bishop added the first of four conversion kicks and the 15-0 lead at the half.
“The coach and the seniors wanted the game to be dedicated to Coach Donovan and we just seemed more focused after that slow first quarter. Credit goes to our line (including center tackles Xavier Santiago, Shane Costello and Ryan Dusablon) for giving me time to execute our offense, ”said Tildsley.
The second half started with a superb 85-yard kickoff return by Tewksbury sophomore Evan Galanis that silenced the vocal crowd at home. Bishop’s kick made the margin 22-0.
In the Crusaders’ return that followed, a loose ball was picked up at the 30-yard line by Costello and the next quick score came on a 27-yard pass to junior wide receiver Mavrick Boudreau for the score. And Bishop’s conversion went 29-0 for the Rams.
Lowell Catholic finally put points on the scoreboard. Starting at his own 22 and led by Silton, the journey took over eight minutes. Silton threw the scoring pass to his junior Riley Nichols at the back of the end zone for the score. The conversion rush was stopped before the goal and the score of 29-6 was posted.
After a 25-yard kickoff return by senior Dylan Timmons, Caleb Caceres ran for 19 yards as the quarter ended with the Ram’s dominance.
In the first play of the fourth quarter, sophomore Zach Rogers swept 45 yards and the score, Bishop added his fourth conversion of the day and the score became 36-6, triggering the “running time” rule in effect. when the margin is 30 points in the fourth quarter.
Both teams brought in plenty of JVs and eighth-grade players. Lowell Catholic went for the win on the fourth and tenths, but the pass was incomplete and the Rams took over at the hosts’ ten-yard line.
On the fourth play of that short haul following a Rams line hold penalty, second student Anthony Canadas sprinted 17 yards through the defense. He added the rush to convert two points and the final score, a solid and deep victory, 44-6 over Lowell Catholic.
“We knew we had to win both sides of the ball in the trenches today,” said coach Costabile. “We actually dominated in all three aspects today, especially our special teams as well. I’m sure Coach ‘Dunni’ would be happy with the total effort of all the players.
Tildsley completed 5 of 8 passes for 78 yards and one touchdown pass, while rushing four times for 13 yards and one touchdown. His effort would lead the Rams to a total offense of 244 yards.
Tildsley’s key interception also shocked the Crusaders’ passing play with QB Kaden Silton completing 14 of 18 passes for 109 yards and a touchdown).
The Rams improved to 3-2 overall and 3-1 in the large Commonwealth Conference school division. Lowell Catholic fell to 4-2 overall, and also to 3-1 in the Commonwealth Conference Large School Division.
Shawsheen will be back in action on Friday night when they travel to Greater Lowell for a 6:00 p.m. kick-off with a chance to win at least a share of the CAC Large title. The Rams and Lowell Catholic are each 3-1 in the league, while Northeast, which handed Shawsheen their only league loss last week, is 2-1, as is Whittier, whom Shawsheen has. beaten earlier this season. Northeast suffered its only league loss to Lowell Catholic on September 24.