A high school tradition finally made its way to Whiting Avenue as the Dedham High School football team played its first game under the Friday night lights.
More than 1,000 fans turned out for the grand opening of the new $3 million athletic complex and thanking of donors who helped raise an additional $225,000 for lights.
As a crisp night wore on, the Walpole offense wore down Dedham's defense en route to a 27-0 win - the Marauders' first true home game since November 2009.
Heading into halftime with 7-1 Walpole, now 8-1 on the season, the Marauders (2-7) trailed by only a touchdown, and had done well containing Walpole's dangerous rushing attack, holding Walpole's potent senior tandem of Shane Blass and Craig Hanley to 55 yards on the ground.
"We gave them fits - that offense is explosive, and I thought our defense played better than ever in the first half," Dedham coach Dave Flynn said after the game.
Dedham's front three on the defensive line - Andrew Martignetti, Matt McIsaac and James Driscoll - stuffed Blass throughout the game. Blass finished with 72 yards for the game, most of which came on a run for 20 yards and another for 31.
The Marauders offense had chances in the first half to capitalize on a couple costly penalties by the Raiders.
Following a second quarter interception by Dedham senior Shawn Pinkham, Dedham looked like it would go three-and-out, until Walpole picked up a roughing the kicker penalty. The Marauders drove down to the Walpole 19-yard line and drew the Raiders offsides on fourth-and-two, but couldn't do anymore, ultimately missing on a 38-yard field goal attempt.
"Offensively, we need to finish. We move the ball, and then for one reason or another, we break down. We need to be a more consistent team," Flynn said.
Dedham running back Mikyle Hill ran for 31 yards and caught one pass for 14 yards. Senior Shane Lowe finished the game with 32 yards on the ground. Quarterback Bryan Hummel went 4-for-11 for 48 yards.
Walpole cashed in halfway through the first quarter on a 49-yard touchdown pass from senior Tom Donnellan to senior Dave Thibault on a streak down the Walpole sideline to cap an 81-yard, 2:56 drive.
Walpole added to its lead on the opening drive of the second half as the Raiders marched 74 yards in 6:04 and tailback Steve Thulin rushed from 11 yards out for the score.
"That's been our Achilles heel - right after the half, kicking off and then holding them on that drive," said the first-year coach.
Dedham fought back on the next drive and put together a solid six minute drive, but on third-and-11, a halfback pass was picked off in the end zone by Walpole.
"We didn't run the play the way it's designed, and unfortunately we turned the ball over," he said.
Walpole used the momentum to score on its next two possessions to make it 27-0 - one on a 22-yard pass from Donnellan to Thibault, and the other a four-yard run by sophomore tailback Kyle Raftery.
"Our kids played with heart and toughness," Flynn said. "I'm extremely excited for the next two weeks to give these seniors what they so well deserve."