Thursday, June 30, 2011

Agganis Classic, LAA Road Race, more...

It's already July which means preseason practices start next month, but before we get there, let's touch on some important summer events.

Cohee, Roberto in the Agganis Classic
Graduating Pioneer captains A. J. Roberto and Gino Cohee will represent Lynnfield football on July 14 at 7 pm in the Agganis Football Classic. This is the 50th playing of the annual event and the two Pioneer standouts will suit up for the North squad when they cap off their high school careers at Manning Field in Lynn.

LAA Road Race
The 44th Annual LAA Fourth of July 5K road race will be held on this Monday and I encourage all of you to come out and support Lynnfield's football players and all other Pioneer athletes by participating. The race leaves Town Hall at 9 am. Registration begins at 7:30 am and it's $20 for 16 and under and $25 for 17 and older. Thirty-eight awards will be given out for men and women in age groups from 10 and under to 70 and over.

It's only 3.1 miles and it's nice flat course (ok maybe just one little hill going up Thomas Road). Hey even I'm running it again so I expect to have a lot of company out there. For more information click on the LAA Road Race link.

New Georgetown Coach Channels Pioneers
There's a new man in charge in Georgetown and according to his initial comments, the Pioneers should expect a familiar look from their CAL/NEC Tier 4 rivals.

Paul Sobolewski takes over the reins from Matt Bouchard who resigned in March after five seasons coaching the Royals. The new head coach was asked by reporter Joshua Boyd of the Georgetown Record about his offensive philosophy and he replied that "We have a spread offense philosophy. We like to throw the ball. What the defense tries to do against us is what dictates what we do"

Sobolewski went on to say that "It’ll take kids a little time to learn our offense, but it looks more complicated than it is. There are a lot of formations, but the same plays out of every formation. It’s sort of similar to what Lynnfield does."

According to the Record's article, Sobolewski plans on interviewing Bouchard's assistant coaches to discuss their joining his staff. Former Pioneer captain Billy Adams, son of LHS co-AD and former head football coach Bill Adams, was an assistant at Georgetown last fall.

The new Royals' coach lives in Revere and comes to Georgetown from Division 2 Winchester of the Middlesex League where Sobolewski guided the Sachems to a 30-25 record over five seasons. He resigned following last season because of what he called "a brick wall" between him and the middle school program, according to Boyd's story. Click here to read Boyd's complete article.

Pioneers' Summer Schedule
Once again this summer, the Pioneers will be tuning up for the season by participating in a 7 on 7 passing league. This is a great opportunity for the offensive players to work on sets, route running and near game like activity in preparation for the real thing. It also give the pass defense a good look at defending the spread offenses they will see in the regular season.

The Pioneers will be playing in the Reading League and their first two contests will be on Sunday, July 10th. All games will be played at Reading High School. The full schedule is as follows:

- July 10th, 9 am vs Reading
- July 10th, 10 am vs. Peabody
- July 17th, 9 am vs. Swampscott
- July 17th, 10 am vs Reading
- August 7th, 9 am vs Reading
- August 7th, 10 am vs. Methuen

In addition, the Pioneers will be participating in a 7 on 7 tournament at Bishop Fenwick on July 23rd beginning at 8:30 am.

That's it for now. Check back on August 5th when we'll be only weeks away from the start of the season. Have a great Fourth of July Weekend.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

A Fond Farewell to the Class of '11

With Lynnfield High Graduation scheduled for Friday night, I thought it would be a good time to take a look at the football seniors from the Class of  '11, what they meant to the program and some of their future plans.

First let's look at the legacy that these seniors put together.

Individually, they accumulated nine All League honors in three years. A. J.Roberto ('09, '10), Gino Cohee ('09, '10) and Evan Panzero ('08, '09) each had two. Panzero missed his senior year with a shoulder injury or he most likely would have hit for the hat trick. Roberto captured the CAL Player of the Year award in 2010 as well.

Rick Berardino, Steve Ullian and Jeff Gannon all garnered All League honors in 2010.

Impressive individual honors to be sure, the but the more impressive accomplishment was the way this group helped turn around the Lynnfield football program, especially the past two years. The 2009 and 2010 seasons turned out to be one of the most successful two year periods in the history of the school.

The two year haul included:

- Most wins (19) surpassing the 1985-86 teams who posted 18
-Second most points scored over a two year period (615) finishing behind the 1960-61 juggernauts who amassed an eye-popping 674 points in two seasons.
- 6th best two year winning percentage (19-4, .826) and best two year winning mark since 1985-86 (18-3, .857). Not surprisingly, the 1960-61 team was best over a two year period with a 16-2 mark good for a .889 winning percentage.

And finally their most impressive achievement, capturing the 2009 CAL Small Championship and playing a post season game for the first time in 24 years.

Pretty head stuff and certainly something that head coach Neal Weidman and his staff can build on as the Lynnfield football program moves forward with a new group of Pioneers looking to establish their own legacy.

The coaches have spoken at length about this group of seniors and you can check out my prior blog on the Unsung Seniors for some of the coaches' comments at the banquet.

So where do they go from here? Many have played their last competitive football game. That is the case for the vast majority of high school football players across the country. A few, though will be moving on and playing at the next level.

Two who will continue their careers are Cohee and Roberto.

According to Cohee's dad Rick, Gino is headed to Pace University in New York City.

"Pace is a Division II college that has brought in an entirely new coaching staff," according to Rick. "The head coach is a fairly young guy who was a QB at Duke University. They have brought in a huge coaching staff including a few ex NFL players. They have funding in place (mostly alumni) who are dedicated to putting Pace Football on the map.

"The head coach is very interested in Gino to be part of his rebuilding process," Rick continued. "They have been 0-9 and 1-8 over the last few years before he was brought in (the whole situation sounds too familiar). They believe in Gino and he wants to have a new try at turning around a program but really wants to finish that process with a championship."

Roberto will also be continuing his football career at the next level, but he will be staying closer to home. According to his mother Laurie, A. J. will be traveling up route 114 to attend Merrimack College. He will be playing for the Warriors, although Laurie is not sure where they will use him.

Interestingly enough, the two former Pioneer captains will be meeting this season on September 17 when Pace travels to North Andover to take on Merrimack. The Pioneers play Amesbury at home at 11 am that day, so if you hustle after the game, you could make the second half with perhaps a chance to see the two former Lynnfield standouts in their rookie college seasons. 

Jeff Gannon, another Pioneer captain last year, will also continue his playing days at Curry College, where mom Connie says he will be suiting up for the Colonels.

Last year's fourth Pioneer captain, Steve Ullian, appears headed to North Shore Community College, according to his mom Robin. Ullian, the best kicker in the history of Lynnfield football, should be able to help someone with his accurate foot, so this could be a one year hiatus away from football for him.

Rick Berardino is most likely headed to Endicott College, according to dad Steve. "He's met with the football
coaches and believes it should be a good fit for him."

Tim Shannon, the Pioneers Scholar Athlete winner last season, is heading for Northeastern. "No football
team!" says mom Lisa. "I think he'll be an intramurals guy but will be excited to have the opportunity to follow his friends and teammates."

Evan Panzero, who would have made a huge contribution to the 2010 team had he been healthy, is headed to Framingham State, but according to mom Joanne, will not be playing football "for at least the first year." He wants to settle in at school and take things from there.

Joining him at FSU is Craig Cataldo, who had an outstanding senior season playing high school football for the first time. With no varsity experience, Cataldo stepped in at guard and linebacker and ended up earning All League honorable mention.

Craig was also the Pioneers' starting hockey goalie for five years, but according to mom Patti, he hasn't decided what he is going to do sportswise in college.

Both Panzero and Cataldo will be meeting up with former Pioneer captains Pat Lamusta and George Hennessey, who both play for the Rams. Something tells me there will be some serious recruiting going on this fall for the two freshmen.

Most of the other seniors will not be playing football, but will be heading for campuses this fall. According to head coach Neal Weidman, Nick Burtman is going to Curry to study Criminal Justice. John Bossi, who also had a standout senior year, is headed to North Shore CC according to his mother Dodie.

Pete Foustoukos is leaning toward UConn, and most of his most football playing will be of the flag variety according to mom Claire.

Matt Kelly,  who also came out for his senior year and made a significant contribution on special teams and in the defensive backfield, will not be playing football next year. Kelly, a standout for the Pioneer icemen, will be playing junior hockey next year according to Weidman.

To these and the other senior football players who may not have finalized their plans for next fall, good luck. I think I can speak for all Pioneer fans in thanking you all for helping to provide some exciting high school football these past few years. Congratulations to you all!

That's it for now. Check back on July 1 for my next post.