ARLINGTON — The Tanners ground assault continues as the Woburn High football team ran through Arlington for 406 yards in a 47-16 romp for its third straight win of the season on Friday night.
Woburn is 3-0 and off to its best start since 2014. This week will be the ultimate test when the Tanners go to Reading to face the perennial Middlesex League Liberty Division kingpin Rockets (4-0). Friday’s kickoff is at 7 p.m. at Hollingsworth Field.
In this era of spread offenses, the Tanners have apparently found something with their Double-Wing “old school” offense that, although not a mystery that they are going to run the ball, still makes it hard to defend. Since implementing it in the spring, Woburn has gone 7-2 its last nine games.
“We try to mix it up and make them cover the whole field,” said Woburn coach Jack Belcher. “Even though it’s a tight formation to start the play you have to cover the 53 and a third yards, maybe not vertically, but there’s stuff that can put up 47 (points). We’re 3-0 and how can you not be happy about that?”
Sophomore running back Brian Ferreira reaps the statistical rewards of this offense as he’s been the main guy to make it go. The 5-7, 180-pounder gained 247 yards on 16 carries with four touchdowns. He has the benefit of running behind a strong, cohesive offensive line led by tackles Amin Rahim and Kevin Kazadi, guards Yahya Aksadi and Killian Hayes and it all begins with center Anthony Palmieri.
Woburn scored on its first three drives on Friday night to seemingly put this one into cruise control. But, to their credit, the Spy Ponders (1-2) began the second half with an impressive scoring drive, helped out by a good kickoff return. They then answered a quick Woburn touchdown with a 69-yard kickoff return for a touchdown and had the game at 32-16 late in the third quarter leading to some concern over on the Woburn sideline.
“I said to them you can’t act like teenagers and what I mean by that is when it’s 24-0 you still have to play with emotion,” said Belcher. “It’s a cliche to say you have to play like it is zero-zero, but, Arlington has some players. I saw them against Brookline last Saturday and played a good Hingham team in Week 1, 21-14 (loss). They’re pretty young and are going to be good.”
Woburn got the game back in control at that point. Helped by a short field by recovering an onside kick, the Tanners went 52 yards in nine plays. Ferreira picked up a pair of first downs on runs of eight and nine. Then a reverse to wide receiver Derek Dabrieo went for 15 yards and led the Tanners to a goal-to-goal situation.
After an eight-yard run by quarterback Brett Tuzzolo got it to the Arlington one, Jake Daniell went in from there. Daniell also rushed for the two-point conversion to make it 40-16 with 10:57 to play.
In a bit of an oddity, both teams combined to go seven for seven on two-point conversions. Woburn went five for five itself.
Even though it now had a bit more breathing room, the Woburn defense stopped Arlington’s attempt to answer Woburn’s latest score.
With the Spy Ponders just into Woburn territory at the Tanner 47, defensive tackle Kazadi sacked Arlington QB Jake Schiano for a nine-yard loss that went on to stunt the drive.
Woburn showed its depth even in mop-up time as Lucas Maia had pull-away speed in going 64 yards for the final touchdown with just 1:26 to play. This resulted in a running clock and the game came to a quick end without another play occurring.
This rushing attack by Woburn has been tough to stop with its misdirection and strong offensive line leading the way. Ferreira has been outstanding as the team’s lead back. His first touchdown run was from 20 yards on a toss to the right that he cut back inside. His second score was on a 75-yard sprint and then went 26 yards for his third TD which made it 24-0 early in the second quarter.
After Arlington scored on a 12-play, 52-yard drive to open the second half, it took Ferreira just two plays as he was slipping tackles and outrunning everyone 63 yards for his fourth touchdown.
The Tanners have had the luxury of only throwing the ball eight times in three games and yet are averaging 41.3 points in those opening games. Next week against Reading they may have to mix it up a bit more. But, for now it has proven to be a tough offense to defend and Belcher agrees.
“I think it is,” supports the Woburn coach. “On any snap, even though (the defense is there) it can be inside right, inside left, middle and wide right left. You’ve got that, and you can go over the top a few times, eventually you should be all right.”