Monday, September 24, 2007

Stellato, Chelsea topple Bulldogs

Stellato, Chelsea topple Bulldogs
By Mike Grenier , Staff Writer
Salem News

MIDDLETON - Chelsea High football coach Mike Stellato refused to take the bait when he was asked whether Saturday's game against North Shore Tech represented a sort of homecoming for him.

Just a year ago, Stellato was coaching a few miles away at Danvers High and it was the realization of a dream for him to be in the Northeastern Conference. He was hoping to be there for a long time, but it ended up being just one season due to a job issue at Danvers.

The shock has worn off for Stellato. If there's any bitterness, it was absent after Chelsea walloped North Shore Tech, 45-14, giving the Red Devils their first win of the season (1-2).

"This was just another game for us," said Stellato, who was delighted to see his team score 37 unanswered points after the Red Devils trailed 14-8 in the first quarter. "The important thing is that we got our first win of the season.

"I'm enjoying myself at Chelsea," he added. "I'm doing what I love, which is coaching high school kids. I feel lucky that Chelsea gave me the opportunity. This was a great day for us."

After dropping games to East Boston (24-8) and Madison Park (30-6) to start the season, Stellato and the Red Devils had it all figured out in this one. Chelsea's old-fashioned Single-Wing offense produced a whopping 351 yards on the ground and the defense tightened up considerably after surrendering two touchdowns in the opening quarter.

Chelsea pushed the pace of the game and received superb performances from Alex Carabello (21 carries, 149 yards and 2 touchdowns) and Melvin Ramirez (9 carries, 75 yards and a touchdown) and a defense that yielded only 12 yards in the closing half.

"The offensive line dictated a lot of what we did," said Stellato, who was 3-7 in his lone season at Danvers. "We're a ball control team and Carabello was outstanding. I thought we were the aggressor on both sides of the ball."

The early signs for North Shore Tech (0-3) pointed to a hotly contested, high-scoring game. David St. Pierre (5 for 8 passing for 121 yards and a touchdown), the Bulldogs promising sophomore quarterback, finished off a 6-play, 51-yard drive from a yard out and senior J.J. Navis added the two-point conversion for an 8-0 lead. After Chelsea made it 8-8, North Shore Tech stormed back with a beautifully executed 55-yard scoring pass from St. Pierre to Cam White, making it 14-8.

However, the Bulldogs couldn't sustain anything after that. Chelsea hammered out a 32-14 lead in the opening half and when North Shore Tech had a chance to climb back in it with less than a minute left in the half, it was repelled on four straight plays inside the Red Devils 5-yard line.

"That was a big momentum changer," Navis said of North Shore's inability to score just before the half. "We were (emotionally) dead at halftime. A lot of our kids are in varsity uniforms for the first time this season. We need to want to win. We're trying, but we need more drive to win."

North Shore Tech's first-year head coach Mike Drouin, who took over for longtime coach Paul Worth, said he saw progress, but it wasn't enough.

"We were flip flopping touchdowns (with Chelsea) for a while," said Drouin. "It's tough. You want (the winning) to happen now, but we're so young (with just three senior starters). We're getting better. Some people ask whether we're rebuilding Paul Worth's team. Paul Worth is a good friend, but we're not trying to rebuild his team. We're just trying to build my team."

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