LYNN — The Salem soccer workforce didn’t run a single offensive play within the first quarter of its Div. 6 semifinal towards Stoneham on Friday at Manning Field. Normally that may in all probability end result within the Witches having to play catch-up.
That wasn’t the case, nonetheless, as Salem used massive play after massive play to beat the Spartans ball-control assault.
Stoneham ran 67 performs in comparison with Salem’s 29 however a pair of kick return touchdowns and a three-touchdown efficiency from Devante Ozuna propelled the Witches to their first Super Bowl look since 1999 with a 38-14 win.
“I am so proud of these kids,” Salem coach Matt Bouchard stated. “The COVID year was hell for these kids bit they were a bright light and that helped propel them to where they are now.”
The query coming in was if Stoneham’s ball management may preserve Salem’s high-powered offense off the sector lengthy sufficient to maintain the rating in test. Problem for Stoneham was that the Witches can beat you in some ways.
That was proven on the opening kick when Quinn Rocco Ryan raced up the suitable sideline for an 89-yard landing and a 7-0 lead simply 16 seconds into the sport.
Stoneham’s response was a 54-yard drive in three minutes that ended with a 30-yard landing go to Sam Sereda from Matthew Tran, who added the conversion rush to make it 8-7.
On the following kick, Pujols took it on the 31 and raced down the left sideline for one more Salem rating and a 13-8 lead with 7:46 left within the first quarter
Stoneham then went to work on the clock by way of a 15-play drive which Tran capped with a three-yard keeper. Kevin Gilmartin’s rush gave Stoneham a 14-13 lead and Salem had but to run a play.
Getting the ball at midfield following a brief kick, Salem went backwards on first down. On the following play, Grimes flared one out to Ozuna and he weaved his approach by means of the protection for a 53-yard rating that gave Salem the lead for good.
“Devante has such a great skill set. He slides and glides so nicely and is a lot quicker than he looks,” Bouchard stated.
The Spartans fumbled on the following collection with Ozuna recovering on the Stoneham 37. His 22-yard run moments later arrange Shane Field’s one-yard plunge that made it 25-14 with 5:45 left within the half.
The Spartans drove contained in the Salem 20 on the following collection however an incompletion on their thirty ninth play of the half turned the ball over on downs with :51 left.
Instead of killing the clock, Salem elected to name a display to Ozuna. It was a smart transfer as he took it 81 yards to make it 32-14 on the break.
Stoneham bought the ball to start the second half however turned it over following a failed faux punt. The Witches had been glad to take the brief area as Ozuna’s third rating of the night time, this one a 17-yard run that noticed him carry a Stoneham defender from the five-yard line into the top zone, made it 38-14.
From there, the Salem protection snuffed out Stoneham’s final two drives to e book their ticket to Gillette.
“I am so happy that these kids weren’t satisfied after last season,” Bouchard stated. “We had a good year and they took the extra steps to get better. They worked like dogs and that’s the difference. They had goals and they wanted to reach them.”