WOBURN — As Woburn High football coach Jack Belcher walked off the field after his team’s Week 7 loss to Belmont, he said that while it may be tough to see, the Tanners were getting better.
A week later, that progress could not have been more obvious.
In a non-playoff matchup, Woburn snapped its four-game losing streak with a 42-12 win over Medford on Friday.
“We played a clean game,” Belcher said. “There were a few penalties that we would have rather not had, but it was clean. Offensively and defensively, we did what we practiced.”
The Tanners (3-5) snapped a four-game losing streak and play two more non-playoff games before their annual Thanksgiving Day game with Winchester. Next up is Lawrence at home on Friday at 6 p.m.
“At the start of the season, you want to get into the playoffs,” Belcher said. “Now, you have three weeks of games. You don’t know who you’re playing until Sunday. You can mess around or you can play football. With a lot of the seniors, they realize that this is the last month they’re going to be putting on the pads so they figure they might as well win.”
Woburn scored 21 points in each of the first two quarters and shut out the Mustangs (0-8) until the fourth quarter. Mustang quarterback Aidan Barry threw touchdown passes of 18 and 52 yards to Matthew Santiago and Julien Jarvis.
The Woburn running game got going early. Running behind Nick Coviello, Yahya Aksadi, Jimmy Pappas, Kevin Kazadi and Matt Tilly, the Tanners did not have to throw a pass.
Symon Sathler started off the scoring with a touchdown run of 25 yards a little over two minutes into the game. Mike Koussa followed with a scoring run of nine with 3:45 left in the quarter.
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Just eight seconds of playing time later, Coviello recovered a fumble in the Medford end zone. Ayob Essouabni’s third of six extra points made it 21-0.
“Against Belmont, we got off to a bad start,” Belcher said. “We needed to be emotionally ready and this time, we were. We didn’t count on Medford giving us a few with some bad snaps, but we’ll take it.”
Sathler continues to play a big role with the team, especially with a bunch of skill position players injured on both sides of the ball. Friday, he gained 156 yards on just seven carries, basically doing all his damage in a little over a quarter. He scored his second touchdown of the game on an eight-yard run early in the second quarter.
A pair of turnovers set up Woburn’s next two touchdowns. One play after the kickoff that followed the fourth touchdown, Logan Wilson picked off a pass and returned it 41 yards to the Medford 4. On the next play, Belcher rewarded Wilson by giving him the carry on the next play and he scored on a jet play to the right with 7:15 left in the half.
After Medford’s Samuel Enayo returned the ensuing kickoff to the Mustang 35, Medford advanced the ball to the 42 on the next two plays. On third down, Coviello stopped Dash Exeteur for a 2-yard loss.
On fourth and 5, Woburn’s James Taft stopped Barry 10 yards behind the line of scrimmage and knocked the ball loose. The Tanners recovered the fumble at the Mustangs’ 30 to set up another scoring drive.
A holding penalty nullified Jake Daniell’s 19-yard touchdown run, but three plays later, Ty Eller ran through the middle for a 4-yard touchdown run with one minute left in the half.
With Woburn holding a 42-point lead, the new Federation Rules call for a running clock in the second half. Belcher was able to get everyone into the game.
“That helps,” Belcher said. “It’s tough getting JV and freshman games after the seventh week. With injuries, you don’t know if you’re going to a JV or freshman game or just a sub-varsity. We were lucky to get Cambridge (on Saturday) for a JV game.”
After a scoreless third quarter, the Mustangs got on the board. At the end of a drive that began with 5:21 remaining in the third, Barry found Santiago in the left corner of the end zone, ending Woburn’s shutout bid with 9:34 remaining in the fourth.
On the extra point, Woburn’s Essouabni blocked the kick to keep the score at 42-6.
The touchdown came on a fourth-and-11 situation. After Medford drove to the Woburn 17, the Mustangs fumbled in the backfield on the next two plays. Christian Sgroi and Jaden Simonds stopped Barry for losses of eight and four yards on those plays. Barry gained 11 on a third-down and 22 keeper before finishing the drive with the pass to Santiago.
Though Medford’s Charles Donovan recovered the onside kick, the ball did not go the required 10 yards. Woburn went to work on the Medford 49, but on the next play the Mustangs got the ball back on a fumble.
Daniell sacked Barry for a five-yard loss on second down, but on the next play, Barry found Jarvis for a 52-yard catch-and-run. Barry threw to Jarvis for the conversion but the ball fell incomplete.