Since there’s no high school football season this fall, the Town Crier has been publishing archive game stories of old WHS Football games, matching up the current week’s game. Below is the week five game from the October 20th, 1976 edition with the Wildcats defeating Andover. This was the season the ‘Cats advanced to the Super Bowl.
For head coach Fred Bellissimo, the long draught is over.
Three years in a row he watched his team push Andover all over the field, only to come away with nothing, while the Golden Warriors went on to two consecutive Super Bowl titles. Saturday ended as Wilmington handed Andover its second loss in a row, 17-8.
For the Wildcats, it was their fifth straight win, giving them a share in the MVC along with Dracut and Tewksbury. For the first time in four years, Andover dropped from the race, their record now at 2-2.
It was a game of defense and turnovers as neither team could sustain much of an offense as the mistakes decided the game.
The Warriors drew first blood as on Wilmington's first play, Gordie Fitch fumbled at the one. In the next play, Gerry Stabile barreled in. The rush was good and Andover led 8-0.
Later in the quarter, the Wildcats got a break as Dino Esposito pounced on a loose ball on the Andover 14. However that was snuffed out three plays later on an interception.
A punt return by Dino Esposito gave Wilmington field position again on the Warrior 15 yard line. Six plays later, Bob Sferrazza bullied in from the goal line. Jim Stewart ran in the conversion and the score was knotted at 8-8.
The score remained that way until late in the third quarter as Wilmington fumbled on the Andover five. Unable to move, the Warriors were forced to punt and Bob Kohler from the right side of the line, got through to block it and the ball rolled out of the end zone, for a safety, and for a 0-8 advantage.
The Wildcats got the ball right back at the Andover 34. Eleven plays later and on fourth down at the three, Stewart swept right to paydirt. The kick was good for the 17-8 lead.
The next two Andover possessions found the defense chasing quarterback Mitch Rousseau for losses of 13 and seven yards, and Andover for the time being was dead.
The game however took its toll on Wilmington. Jim Stewart played with a dislocated finger. Gordie Fitch (ankle), Ray Gaud and Dino Esposito played shaken up all afternoon.
The defense line led by Esposito, Maga and Gaud played excellently, while the secondary of Blaisdell, Stewart and Steven Woods stopped the air attack.
Bob Sferrazza was the day's leading ground gainer, with 58 yards in 24 totes, while Gordie Fitch in 13 carries had 32 yards. Jim Stewart was 12 lugs for 36 yards.
Passing, Wilmington was 3-for-12 for 42 yards, suffering two interceptions. The Warriors went 8-for-22, 105 yards and also had two interceptions. On the ground, the Wildcats churned out 135 yards while holding Andover to 32. First downs Wilmington had the edge 10-7.