Watertown football overcomes Burlington, captures Middlesex League title

Mey's interception key as Raiders (6-0) come back after losing 21-point lead; Wilmington next up on Friday, Oct. 24

Amin Touri, Raider Times staff

It’s been a hard-fought campaign for the Watertown High football team, and even though it isn’t over quite yet, the Raiders checked a major goal off their list with a thrilling 36-29 victory over Burlington on Friday, Oct. 17.

After Zach Rimsa punched in a 2-yard run to cap off a 68-yard drive with 30 seconds remaining to put the Raiders up by 7, junior safety Stevie Mey came up with a huge interception to clinch the game in dramatic fashion and earn the Raiders their first Middlesex League championship since 1983.

“I think we played a very good game for 2 ½ quarters and then started to let things slip away,” said Raiders head coach John Cacace. “I think we lost our focus a little bit, but we were resilient and even when we went down, 29-28, we had the confidence to get down and score the game-winner.” 

Once he threw it, I was in perfect position to step in front of it and pick it off.”

— STEVIE MEY on his game-saving interception

Highlighted by a 26-yard screen pass to junior Kyle Foley, the Raiders pieced together a drive in the game’s final two minutes, culminating in Rimsa’s second touchdown to pull Watertown back into the lead. The successful 2-point conversion left the score at 36-28, Watertown, with 30 seconds to go.

Without much time to work with, the Red Devils managed to get as far as the Watertown 48. In arguably the biggest play of the season for the Raiders, Burlington quarterback Dylan Bonfilio dropped back and threw a pass across the middle, but  Mey read him all the way.

“I saw the quarterback turn his head towards the receiver, so I started to creep over towards that side of the field,” said Mey. “Once he threw it, I was in perfect position to step in front of it and pick it off.”

The interception handed the ball, the game, and a Middlesex League title to the Raiders.

It was the Burlington offense that struck first in this matchup, when Bonfilio faked a pass and handed off to running back Chenet Guerrier, who took it 45 yards for the touchdown, giving Burlington a 7-0 lead.

Watertown didn’t get discouraged easily, responding on its very first offensive play. Starting on from the 25, Raiders quarterback Nick Giordano hit wide receiver Austin Farry for what looked to be just a 5-yard gain, but the talented senior blew past the Burlington defense, taking it all the way down the field for a 75-yard touchdown.

Giordano then connected with Farry a second time, as Giordano fired a laser across the middle, which Farry reeled in for a 16-yard score to put the Raiders ahead, 14-7, at the start of the second quarter.

The Raiders scored points on both sides of the ball this game, as senior linebacker Alex Martinos intercepted an errant pass and returned it for another touchdown, putting Watertown up, 21-7.

After Foley made a spectacular catch to put Watertown on the Burlington 1,  Rimsa took a handoff left and strolled into the end zone to give Watertown a 28-7 lead in the third quarter.

The Red Devils, however, did not go away. Bonfilio scored on a 1-yard sneak late in the third quarter, and Guerrier added his second touchdown of the game from 6 yards out to cut the deficit to just 28-21 with under eight minutes remaining.

Burlington then completed their comeback, as Guerrier dashed 32 yards for his third touchdown of the game. Watertown’s 21-point lead had been completely erased, and a successful 2-point conversion put Burlington ahead, 29-28, with only 2:44 remaining.

“You could see in our body language that their 2-point conversion was a letdown for us,” Cacace said. “But we shrugged off those negative feelings quickly and went to work. I’m proud of them for that. That’s not easy to do.”

But, just as they had all season, the Raiders showed why they belong at the top of the Middlesex League.

“From my perspective, I was glad that they left us 2:44 on the clock to respond,” remarked Cacace. “I told the team that the we had 2 minutes and 44 seconds and we still had four timeouts to work with so let’s regroup and go right down and score.”

Along with their first Middlesex League Championship in three decades, Watertown improved its record to a perfect 6-0. The Raiders will try to continue their undefeated season as they travel to Wilmington on Friday, Oct. 24, to take on the Wildcats in their final game before the state tournament begins.

“[The Middlesex League title] was very high on our list of goals,” says Cacace, but the Raider squad is still taking things week by week.

“We still have a bunch of goals out there left to accomplish, so we need to get back to work this week and prepare for Wilmington.”

–Oct. 23, 2014–