Another Win for Mass Phoenix
By Michael James LeClair
LEOMINSTER – There’s no place like home.
The Mass. Phoenix football team found lots of success last year inside the friendly confines of Doyle Field.
On Saturday night, the Phoenix were looking to pick up right where they left off last year as they welcomed the Maine Wolverines for their home opener.
The hosts continued their strong start to the 2019 season as they turned in a solid four-quarter effort en route to a 31-0 victory in East Coast Football League action.
The Phoenix, under first-year head coach Rayshawn Link, improved to 3-0 on the season while the Wolverines drop to 3-2.
Saturday’s shut out win is the team’s second straight shut out. The Phoenix defense has been nearly perfect through the first three weeks as it has only allowed a total of eight points. The Phoenix have outscored the opposition a combined 90-8. “I thought we played really well defensively, we made a couple of changes prior to tonight’s game,” said Link. “We were giving up some big gains in the run game so we wanted to make some adjustments and I think we did that tonight.”
The Phoenix will take their unbeaten record back out on the road this Saturday, June 29 when they head to Marshfield to take on the host Hurricanes.
“It’s nice to get the win in our first home game of the season, it felt really good,” said Link. “I went to high school and played at Leominster High so playing here is very special to me and to a lot of these guys on the team. I wouldn’t want to get our first home victory at any other venue.”
As for Saturday night’s battle, the Phoenix wasted little time putting points on the scoreboard. The hosts took the game’s opening kickoff and marched 77-yards on 12 plays. The drive was capped by a two-yard touchdown run courtesy of Theodore Norris. Chris Bruno’s point-after kick made it 7-0 before the Wolverines even touched the football. The home team doubled its lead with another touchdown, this time it was David Elias with a three-yard scamper to cap another double-digit play drive, this one went 12-plays and 92-yards. Bruno’s PAT made it 14-0 midway through the second quarter. The big play of the drive came courtesy of the arm of quarterback Matt Seward, who found Derek Franks on a third and long situation. Franks hauled in the pass and rumbled 45 yards inside the Wolverines 20-yard line to put the Phoenix in scoring position.
Maine did its best to try and counter the next time it touched the pigskin. The Wolverines pushed their way into the red zone to the Phoenix 18. On fourth and long the Wolverines lines up for a 35-yard field goal. An offsides penalty on the defense moved the ball up five yards and made it a 30-yard attempt. On the snap, the Phoenix front line got a great push and Armando Seaz was able to get through and block the attempt to keep the tourists off the scoreboard.
The Phoenix offense kept their foot on the gas pedal to open the third quarter as it added seven more to their total and expanded the lead to 21-0 with a two-yard touchdown run by Elias to highlight an eight-play, 79-yard drive that began back at the Phoenix 21-yard line. Meanwhile, the defense refused to break as they continued to get pressure in the Wolverines backfield and make life miserable for the opposition’s offense. With the game well in hand, the Phoenix wasn’t finished putting points on the scoreboard. A 37-yard field goal by Bruno made it 24-0 before a 50-yard touchdown run by Curtis Ludden late in the fourth quarter put the finishing touches on another win.
This year, the Phoenix is teaming up with a new sponsor, QB1 Mentality, and looking to make an impact in the community. Every time the Phoenix score a touchdown, whether it’s offensively or defensively this season and add the extra point kick, QB1 Mentality will donate seven dollars to Robert F. Kennedy Children’s Action Corps. With Saturday’s barrage of points, the donation total is up to $84 through three games this season.