By Steve Freker
REVERE— It would have been hard for longtime Revere High head coach Lou Cicatelli to deny that this year’s turkey dinner was the tastiest of all, in his 16 years at the helm of the Patriots’ football program.
After all, on a day steeped in tradition and history, Revere’s hard-fought, 18-6 victory over holiday archrival Winthrop at frosty Della Russo Stadium was the cherry on top of one of the most successful seasons ever for the Patriots.
At game time, the temperature was a “balmy” 16 degrees, with a swirling wind chill of straight up 1 degree.
The win closed out Revere’s year at 7-4 overall, its best record since 1981, a team Cicatelli played for under the legendary late Patriot head coach Silvio Cella.
Adding to this, for the first time in over 40 years, Revere’s Thanksgiving win was the third in a row over the Winthrop Vikings, a feat not accomplished since Cella’s 1974 won its third straight Turkey Day game.
“It’s three in a row and it felt great,” Coach Cicatelli said of the historic “W”. “These kids have worked so hard and battled through so much this year, they deserved a great finish like this.”
For the year, Winthrop lost its chance for a winning record for the season, finishing at 6-5.
With the win, Revere made another chip in the large lead Winthrop holds in the overall series, which began in 1913. Game #88’s result leaves the overall tally at 55-29-3 in Winthrop’s favor. Since the last time Revere won three in a row, in 1974, the Patriots have won on Thanksgiving four times before the latest streak, Viking dominance for over four decades.
On Thanksgiving Day, despite what some viewed as a mismatch going in, it was far from it. As Coach Cicatelli had predicted last week, it was a battle.
Revere had to play catchup in the first half when Winthrop intercepted a Jonathan Murphy pass on a third-and-long heave and scored quickly after Austin Daigneault returned the pick to the Patriots 21-yard line.
Daigneault himself scored on a four-yard run four plays later as the second quarter began, for a 6-0 Winthrop lead and the conversion run failed as the Vikings had drawn first blood.
Revere tied the game late in the second quarter on the legs of star running back Darius McNeil. McNeil busted off a 30-yard run to the Winthrop 5-yard line with 2:33 left in the half and then scored on the next play for a 6-6 deadlock.
Revere attempted the PAT kick but sophomore booter Rayan Riazi’s try was blocked by the Vikings and the score stayed even as people sprinted for the halftime hot chocolate.
In the second half, Revere leaned hard on McNeil as it was not easy task to air it out in windswept Della Russo Stadium. Murphy did eke out a TD pass however, when he hit Cal Capozzi with an 11-yard scoring strike to put Revere up 12-6, the eventual game winning points, with 1:44 left in the third quarter in this defensive battle.
McNeil carried the next Revere scoring drive, opening the fourth quarter. Devin Matthias recorded a huge fourth down sack, as the Vikings went for it on 4th-and-5 from their own 47-yard line.
Five McNeil runs on six plays was capped by a 1-yard touchdown dive to give the Patriots a commanding, 18-6 lead after the conversion run was stuffed by the Vikings.
McNeil finished the game with a game-high 139 yards on 28 carries and the two TDs.
Still, as expected, Winthrop did not relent. The Vikings launched two more drives deep into Revere territory, but could not solve the Red Zone and dent the scoreboard.
All-Conference linebacker Zach Furlong picked off the last Winthrop pass of the day in the end zone to end any threat and essentially seal the Revere victory. Frank Sims and Zach Carifeo also led the Patriots’ defense.
“We are proud of our seniors and our team,” Coach Cicatelli said. “It was exactly how we wanted to finish our season.”
Revere 18, Winthrop 6
Winthrop 0 6 0 0 6
Revere 0 6 6 6 18
Winthrop—Austin Daigneault 4-yard run (rush failed)
Revere—Darius McNeil 5-yard run (kick blocked)
Revere—Cal Capozzi 11-yard pass from Jonathan Murphy (rush failed)
Revere—McNeil 11-yard run (rush failed)
(Advocate photos by Al Terminiello)