REVERE — All year long senior running back Darius McNeil has been a workhorse for the Revere football team’s offense.
“He’s been one of our best backs all year long,” Revere coach Lou Cicatelli said of McNeil. “As a junior coming into the program last year he was a little smaller, but he got a lot bigger this year. He worked really hard this season in the weight room. The guys love him. They rally around him.”
McNeil had totaled 1,177 yards and eight touchdowns on the ground going into Thursday’s Thanksgiving game against Winthrop, for which the senior had high expectations.
“We expected to win this game coming in,” McNeil said. “Just based on our confidence and the way we knew we could execute on the field. We didn’t expect it to be that close honestly, but it was and were able to pull it out in the end.”
The Patriots earned the 18-6 win over Winthrop at Harry Della Russo Stadium, and McNeil played a huge part, dominating in the running game. McNeil carried the ball 28 times for 139 yards and two touchdowns behind a strong performance by his offensive line.
“There were definitely some big holes today,” McNeil said. “We made some adjustments at halftime and it worked out great for us.
“It was great for us at halftime to make some adjustments that helped open up some holes for me and I was able to get some big yards,” he said.
Cicatelli said the halftime adjustments were crucial to the win.
“We made a few adjustments in the second half,” Cicatelli added. “We tried to spread them out a bit but still run our off tackle play, and it worked. I tip my hat to Winthrop. (The Vikings) had a good game plan. They slowed us down a lot better than other teams did but Darius was the star.”
After the win, an emotional McNeil was proud to be able to see the hard work him and his teammates dedicated pay dividends.
“Its feels great to get a win (Thursday),” McNeil said. “Me and my boys, we came out here and did everything we had to do to win this one. We executed today the exact way we wanted to.”
McNeil feels he leaves the Patriots in good standing with a talented core returning to Revere next season.
“It’s a special group and a special bond,” McNeil added. “I’m going to miss them all. You can definitely catch me here at this game next Thanksgiving but I’ll be in the stands. They are definitely a special group returning next season. I think they are going to have a great year next year, there’s a lot of young guys that are doing it all. The program is great and everything is great here.”
This was the third straight Thanksgiving win by the Patriots over Winthrop.
Cicatelli knows a hard runner like McNeil will be difficult to replace. He also gave credit to his line.
“The offensive line played a great game,” Cicatelli said. “They got a good push today, especially in the second half. Darrius is going to be a big loss. We are going to miss him a lot.
“Just a great football game today,” Cicatelli added. “It was close like we knew it would be but what can I say I’m very proud.”