Friday, September 30, 2011

Speed Bump

Watching St. Mary's play football is like watching the NFL Redzone in fast forward on your DVR.

The Spartans' relentless double wing offense led by running backs Todd Collier and Cory Donahue, ran over, around and through the Pioneer defense for over 350 yards and 20 first downs in a convincing 40-16 victory at Manning Field tonight.

I believe Collier wore number 28 and Donahue was number 23 but it was really hard to tell since they were mostly a blur all night. The Pioneer defense worked hard, but those backs didn't need much daylight and when they got it, they were gone.

The Pioneers were able to put together a couple of nice scoring drives with Mike Karavetsos connecting on two more TD passes, a 30 yarder to tri-captain Mike Thomas and a nine yarder to Steven Yobaccio. Karavetsos also ran in a two point conversion and tossed a two pointer to Dan Ashwell.

In the end, St. Mary's proved to be too quick and athletic for the Pioneers. But being forced to try and stay with the Spartans can only help in the development of the young Lynnfield squad as they head further into the season.

You can read my full game account and and check out my photos in this week's Villager. And check back tomorrow night for my Leftovers post.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

St. Mary's Game Preview: Get Ready for Rush Week

After last week's 40-12 victory over East Boston, St. Mary's head coach Matt Durgin was joking with Daily Item reporter Steve Krause trying to recall the last time the Spartans had completed a touchdown pass.

"I don't know," Krause quoted the coach in his Item game story. "We threw the ball once last week...and it was incomplete. This week we were perfect. One pass, a completion...and a touchdown."

The Pioneers attempt and complete more passes in a quarter than St. Mary's attempts in several years.

This season they have scored 17 touchdowns in three games defeating Cambridge 35-0, Martha's Vineyard 44-22 and East Boston. Of those, 16 came on the ground.

But you can't argue with success. The Spartans are a perennial power in the Catholic Central Large, compiling a 10-1 mark last year and just missing the postseason.

They run a double wing offense, similar to the one that the Pioneers faced against Austin Prep in their 2009 playoff game. It is a patient, ball control offense that hammers away until it finds a crack and then one of their speedy backs breaks through for a big gain.

The formation is basic.

The line uses tiny splits where their cleats nearly touch.

Quarterback Jonathan Capano crouches low underneath center so the defense can barely see him. On the right wing, facing him at an angle is Cory Donahue (6 TD's, 2 conversions, 40 points). On Capano's left wing, facing him is Todd Collier (5 TD's, 4 conversions, 38 points). Directly behind the quarterback is fullback Xavier Gonzalez (3 TD's, 1 conversion, 20 points).

One of the backs usually shuffles into motion and then the fun begins. Capano can hand it off to one of the backs cutting inside him, he can quickly lateral it to the back who then looks for his hole, he can pitch it to one of the backs outside or he can give it to the fullback diving up the middle. Occasionally he may keep it. And once every couple of games, he will throw it.

Defenses have to stay at home, read their keys and be disciplined. If not, they will get burned instantly, especially by this quicksilver Spartan backfield.

"They're very good," said Pioneer head coach Neal Weidman. "They're super athletic and they score a ton of points. They have a ton of speed. They try to get the edge on you."

Defensively they are led by Collier, last year's Daily Item Defensive Player of the Year. They like to blitz and if you catch them, you can capitalize. East Boston caught them for one of their two TD's that way.

East Boston had some success moving the ball and there were some open pass plays, but their quarterback took advantage only occasionally. It will be interesting to see how St. Mary's handles the spread.

The Spartans have virtually no kicking game. They don't use a tee to kick off, instead laying the football on the ground like a loaf of bread and then squibbing it to the return team.

They have attempted only three PAT's and made only one. However, they are 11 for 14 on two point conversions.

The Pioneers will be looking to extend their winning streak to three while at the same time snapping a two game road losing streak. The last two Pioneer games away from the Middle School Field were losses to Hamilton Wenham and Newburyport last year.

After an easy win over Bishop Fenwick last week, the Pioneers will be much more severely tested against a quicker, more experienced, proven winner like St. Mary's. How they perform will be a good indication of how far they have come since the beginning of the year.

This will be the second meeting all time between these two schools. The Pioneers shut out the Spartans 36-0 in their only other meeting in 1991.

Game time at Lynn's Manning Field is 7 pm.

That's it for now. Check back Friday night for my post game summary.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

The 1986 Super Pioneers: Carty For the Defense in Newburyport

To commemorate the 25th anniversary of the only Pioneer team to make it to the Super Bowl, I am taking a week by week look back at the Super 1986 season.

LHS Football Wayback Machine
September 26, 1986

There was consternation heading into the Pioneers' Cape Ann League opener following a lackluster non-league victory over Wayland to begin the season. Not only did the Pioneers have to open the league schedule against one of the preseason favorites, but they would have to travel to Newburyport to do it.

Lynnfield football followers have come to know War Memorial Stadium as the Pioneers' personal House of Horrors, and things weren't much better 25 years ago. Lynnfield had traveled to the "Home Port of the Clippers" seven times since the CAL had been formed in 1973, and the Pioneers had come away with only a pair of wins.

Making the task even tougher this night was the fact that the Pioneers would be playing without standout running back Todd Coviello. The senior co-captain hurt his knee against Wayland and was unavailable in this game.

Luckily the Pioneers had two co-captains.

Outstanding tackle Darrell Carty picked up the slack on defense to lead the Pioneers to victory. When the dust had settled, Carty had 13 solo tackles, two sacks and a forced fumble. He led a tenacious Lynnfield defense that kept Newburyport out of the endzone until the last play of the game. For his efforts, Carty was named the Division 3 Defensive Star of the Week by the Boston Globe.

Meanwhile, on the other side of the ball, a pair of juniors filled in admirably for the injured Coviello. Mark Sutera picked up 66 yards on 10 carries while Jason Mochi rushed 12 times for 51 yards.

The Pioneers banged on the door early, with a pair of first quarter scoring drives thwarted by interceptions on the four yard line and in the endzone. But Lynnfield broke through big time in the second period scoring three times to build a 19-0 halftime lead.

Dave Frontero got things started by recovering a fumble on the first play of the second period. On the next play, Frontero completed what he started by tossing a 48 yard touchdown pass to Mark Guido who glided into the endzone for the score. The PAT was blocked, but Lynnfield led 6-0.

A 22 yard punt return by Ron Grasso gave the Pioneers great field position at midfield on their next possesion. Nine plays and 49 yards later, Sutera finished the drive on a nine yard draw play. Frontero booted the extra point and the Pioneers led 13-0.

Head coach Bill Adams dipped into his bag of tricks late in the half when he called for a fake field goal on a fourth and goal from the nine. Backup quarterback and holder Steve Bucci took the snap, rolled to the left and drilled one to Mochi who slipped by a defender to get into the endzone. That gave Lynnfield a 19-0 lead at the break and it was clear the Clippers would not be coming back in this one.

The defense, led by Carty, Chris Loomos, Bill Aldenberg and David Aldenberg, kept the Clippers beached. They did punch in a score in the first, but the play was called back on a penalty and the Pioneers would not allow them back into the endzone. Newburyport got their lone TD on the final play of the game on a 16 yard pass.

The win lifted the Pioneers to 2-0 and into eighth place in the Globe's Division Three Super Bowl rankings, tied with Triton who knocked off 1985 co-champion North Andover 21-15. That set up a big early season showdown between the Pioneers and the Vikings in Lynnfield's home opener the following week.

Next: The Pioneers' home opener against tough Triton.

If you played on or were involved with the 1986 team and would like to share a memory, please pass it on to me at

Monday, September 26, 2011

Around the CAL/NEC 4: Week 3

All five other teams in the league were in action as we reach the midpoint of the non-league portion of the schedule. First up, let's take a look at the standings

Hamilton-Wenham took another giant step toward cementing themselves as the prohibitive favorite in the CAL/NEC 4 with another dominating win. On Friday, the Generals went on the road in the rain and snuffed out Newburyport 18-6 for their third consecutive win.

The tandem of Burr and Lyons may sound like a law firm, but it is taking on more of a look of a funeral home for the opposition as a devastating one-two offensive punch for H-W. The Clippers held quarterback Trevor Lyons in check in the rain early and actually scored first. Newburyport quarterback Connor Wile found James Conway with a 12 yard TD pass to give the Clippers a 6-0 first period lead.

Then Burr and Lyons went to work. Normally, Burr does most of his damage with his bruising running, but in the second period he turned into a receiver. Lyons hooked up with him three times to get the Generals to the five yard line. Lyons ran it in for the score and after the try for two failed, the teams were knotted at 6-6.

Burr went returned to earth on H-W's next drive carrying the load as the Generals marched down the field for another score. Burr did the honors from the one. The rush for two failed and H-W led 12-6 at the half.

The teams remained scoreless throughout the third period and deep into the fourth. With just over three minutes left, the Generals drove to the Newburyport 20 where Lyons finished it off with a pass to Pete Duval on a fourth and eight. The PAT kick attemp failed but the Generals had wrapped up the 18-6 win.

H-W has now allowed only 13 points in three games and looms large as the league schedule gets closer. The Generals return home to face Amesbury on Saturday afternoon.

Meanwhile down the road apiece in the same rainstorm, North Reading battled Amesbury at Landry Stadium and for the second consecutive year, fell to the Indians in overtime.

The Hornets got 177 yards and a pair of TD's from Carl Lipani who lugged the pigskin 40 (yes FORTY) times. But it wasn't enough to overcome the home team.

Amesbury took a 7-0 lead in the first but NR came back to tied it in the second period on a Lipani one yard run. Eric Valenti tied it with his PAT and that's the way the first half ended.

The Indians took the lead in the third, but missed the PAT and led 13-7. The Hornets used a mind-numbing 11 1/2 minute drive to tie the score again and Lipani capped it with a two yard run with just over a minute to play. However, Valenti's kick was wide, setting up the overtime.

North Reading scored first on a miraculous pass completion from Jason Kellogg to Charles McCarthy on fourth and 14. Under the tiebreaker rules, you can't kick an extra point on the first series, and Lipani was stuffed on the two point try leaving them with a 19-13 lead.

Amesbury tied in on the second play of their series and then won it when Delante Castle took a pitch and   ran into the endzone for the two points.

The 21-19 loss was the Hornets' second in a row as they fall to 1-2 in non league play. The Hornets host Austin Prep this Friday night.

Georgetown was on the road as well this week and fell to Whittier Voc 28-13 in Haverhill Saturday morning.

The Royals scored first on a Tyler Wade 11 yard pass to Colby Ingraham. The pass for two failed but Georgetown led 6-0. Whittier then took command, scoring four unanswered touchdowns. The Tigers led 20-6 at the half and 28-6 until late in the game. Georgetown added a touchdown when Wade connected with Thomas Zargaf for 39 yards. Wade added the point but it was too little too late as the Royals suffered their first loss of the year and fall to 1-1.

They play at Bishop Fenwick on Saturday.

Manchester-Essex fell to 1-2 with a 14-8 loss to Cathedral after allowing two second half Panther touchdowns at Hyland Field Friday night.

The Hornets actually had a chance at the go-ahead touchdown with less than a minute to play but a fumbled snap out of the shotgun killed the threat.

M/E controlled the first half and scored first on a six yard TD run by Chris Dumont. A bad snap out of the endzone by Cathedral gave the Hornets two more points and they led 8-0 at the half.

However, the Panthers came back to tie it in the third and take a 14-8 lead mid way in the fourth period. The Hornets couldn't get any closer though as Cathedral won it's third straight game.

M/E travels to North Shore this Saturday.

And finally, the troubles for the Ipswich Tigers continue. They fell to 0-2 after suffering a 26-0 beating at the hands of Pat Sheehan's Triton Vikings who have now won two in a row after snapping their 12 game losing streak.

The Tigers have now been outscored 66-8 in their two losses. They have another tall task this Saturday when they travel to Pentuckert.

That's it for now. Check back Wednesday night for my next post in the series celebrating the 1986 Super Bowl season.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Bishop Fenwick Leftovers

Now that was more like it.

After last week' over Amesbury there was no telling which way the Pioneers would go. Would they have a false sense of invincibility or would they recognize their fortune and learn from the escape?

Clearly it was the latter.

"They watched the film (of the Amesbury game)," said Pioneer head coach Neal Weidman. "They knew they weren't good. I was confident they would come out and play better than we did last week. They probably played a little better than I thought we would."

You think?

The Pioneers crushed Bishop Fenwick, dominating the line of scrimmage and rolling for 408 yards of offense. You can read my full game account in this week's Villager, but Lynnfield started strong in this one and never looked back.

This was the first 400+ yard game for the Pioneers since last year's 30-13 comeback win at Amesbury. They only had one other game that topped the 400 yard mark and that was against Cathedral (421 yards)

This was a team possessed which had learned from the Amesbury game.

"Amesbury was tough," Weidman continued. "They came ready to play last week. They were real physical. We didn't have a great week of practice last week and we played like we practiced. This week was better in practice and we played better. I keep telling those guys that they have to recognize that correlation that they practice better then they play better."

Weidman also cautioned that Bishop Fenwick was not Amesbury.

"Fenwick is a real young team," he said. "They do have a couple of players or kids that are going to be players. (Freshman Rufus Rushins) is a tank and (sophomore Eric Razney) is real quick and will be a nice one. (Sophomore quarterback Nick Bona) is young, but is going to be a good player. He's tough and fast."

It was also mentioned that the Pioneer line had a distinct size advantage over the smallish Crusader line.

"That's always a struggle for smaller schools," he replied. "Finding some bigger kids that are willing to play offensive line."

Weidman also said that getting the first win last week was a contributing factor to how well the Pioneers played against Fenwick.

"That's part of it," Weidman explained. "Gaining some confidence from the fact that they won it. The first one is the hardest one.

Explosive Start
The Pioneers put this one away early, taking the fight out of the Crusaders in the first quarter with two surgically brutal scoring drives. In leaping out to a 13-0 lead, the Pioneers gained 156 yards on 19 plays (8.2 yard per play average). More than half the plays (11) were good enough for first downs (9) or touchdowns (2).  While the Pioneers were mowing them down in those first eight minutes, the Crusaders managed to run three plays for  eight yards.

"You like to be able to put points up early and take advantage of that," said Weidman. "Getting off to a fast start has always been good for us. Whenever we get out to a fast start, we usually play pretty decent."

Thomas Tallies
After being held out of the endzone in the Pioneers' first two games, tri-captain Mike Thomas got into the scoring column early in the third on a nifty 13 yard run. It would have been his second TD of the game if not for a bizarre play on Lynnfield's opening score.

On Lynnfield's opening drive, Thomas rumbled through one of the many holes the Pioneer offensive line ripped in the Fenwick front wall and appeared headed for a 14 yard score. However, the ball was stripped at the three yard line, then bounced straight up into the grateful arms of Alex Pascucci who took it into the endzone to get credit for the score, the first of his varsity career.

Thomas looked much more dominant in this game, punishing defenders and dragging would be tacklers. That included one play that resembled a rugby-like scrum where a hive of nearly all 22 players bounded about 10 yards toward the Pioneer goal line. Thomas finished with 113 yards on 16 carries.

"He ran well and carried some people," Weidman said. "He ran hard. It was hot and humid so we had to get some guys some breaks but he was good."

Redemption Island?
Senior Dan Ashwell had a breakout game which Weidman acknowledged.

"He had a good game," the coach said. "Two TD catches and an interception and a couple of nice tackles. He dropped that pass in the endzone last week and I think he wanted to redeem himself."

Ashwell's two scores came on passes of 45 yards and 75 yards from Mike Karavetsos. On both plays the speedy senior simply ran by the Fenwick defense and Karavetsos led him perfectly both times.

It was the first two touchdown reception game by a Pioneer receiver since Rick Berardino did it against Georgetown a year ago.

Karavetsos Coming
Weidman also noted the improvement in Karavetsos, his junior signal caller.

"He's getting better each week and that's the goal," Weidman said. "He's getting over being super nervous to start the game and he's starting to take some time to get some experience. The kid's come a long way. He's not only come a long way since he was a freshman, but he's come a long way since the start of this year."

The running game has been there for him all year and he is the Pioneers' leading ground gainer with 234 yards in three games. He's averaging 7.1 yards per carry.

But it's his passing game that has improved most dramatically. After a 2 for 9, 12 yard performance against Newburyport, Karavetsos put up an 11 for 18, 214, 1 TD, 2 Interception performance against Amesbury which could have included more completions and touchdowns if not for a couple of dropped passes. Then last week, the junior was 5 for 10 for 159 yards, 2 TD's and 1 int.

Being a stat freak, I decided to dust off the NFL's passer rating formula to see how those performances tracked.

Against Newburyport, Karavetsos put up a 26.16 rating. Then against Amesbury that jumped to 74.77 and then against Fenwick it leaped to an impressive 135. For the year, Karavetsos has a 79.22 passer rating.

For comparison purposes only, former Pioneer quarterback Gino Cohee had an 84.47 rating as a junior in 2009 and a 99.13 last year as a senior.

Palumbo Power
Junior Tyler Palumbo made his presence felt all over the field on both sides of the ball against Fenwick and is fast becoming one of the Pioneers' more consistent players.

Palumbo had several key pass breakups in coverage from his linebacker spot, was in on many tackles and had a couple of quarterback pressures on blitzes. On offense, he had a couple of carries, caught a two point conversion pass and threw several key blocks. He was also in on several special teams tackles.

"He started as a sophomore last year, one of only three starters back," said Weidman. "We expect him to do well and he is. He's a tough kid. He's not very big but he's pretty tough."

Special Teamers
Speaking of special teams, a couple of youngsters made their impact felt on kick coverage Saturday.

Sophomore Matt Kramich and freshman Alex MacLachlan each had a pair of special teams tackles hustling down field to help stifle the Fenwick return game.

Kramich has been doing it in all three games beginning with the opening kick of the season when he stuck the Newburyport kick returner.

Home Stand Over
The Pioneers' completed their three game homestand with a 2-1 mark. They now head out on the road for visits to St. Mary's in Lynn and Danvers for night games the next two weeks.

They have now played four straight home games going back to Thanksgiving Day last year. Their last road game was the nightmare, last second loss to Hamilton Wenham last November.

The last time the Pioneers opened a season with three straight home games was in 2006. That year, they lost to Georgetown and Matignon, then beat Hull before heading out on the road.

- A special Ronald Reagan Centennial coin was used for the opening toss. It was part of a nationwide ceremony to honor the late president for the 100th anniversary of his birth.
- The 35 points scored by Lynnfield was the most for the Pioneers since the 41-0 beatdown of Ipswich last November 6.
- The Pioneers are now 2-0 against Fenwick having outscored the Crusaders 77-29. However, with all the young talent Fenwick has, something tells me these games will be much more competitive if the series continues next season.
- The Pioneers played without last week's receiving standout John Rogers who now has several pins in his thumb. It is not known when he will return.
- They also played without linebacker A. J. Gallo, last week's hero for his game winning fumble recovery. Gallo was suited up but was in bed with strep throat most of the week, according to Weidman.

That's it for now. Check back tomorrow night when I take another look around the CAL/NEC 4.

Saturday, September 24, 2011


The young Pioneers put their first major imprint on their 2011 season this afternoon with an impressive 35-8 blasting of the Bishop Fenwick Crusaders at the Lynnfield Middle School Field.

The Pioneers rolled up 350+ yards in the first three quarters enroute to the victory that ups their record to 2-1.

Quarterback Mike Karavetsos led the way both running and throwing including two long touchdown connections with Dan Ashwell. Tri-captain Mike Thomas, Kyle McGah and Alex Pascucci added rushing touchdowns, Karavetsos hit Tyler Palumbo for a two point conversion and Alex Roper drilled three PAT's to account for the scoring.

The Pioneer line dominated both sides of the ball and the Lynnfield defense continues to grow, forcing the beleaguered Crusaders into six turnovers.

You can read my full game account in this week's Villager and check back tomorrow night for my Leftovers post for much more on the game.

OD's Run
And finally don't forget about OD's Run which will be held tomorrow, Sunday, September 25 at 10 am at Lynnfield High School.

The annual 5K memorial road race and walk is held to raise funds for scholarships awarded in memory of Johnny "OD" O'Donnell. Johnny is a former Pioneer football player and this event is a tribute to his short life.

For more information contact Karen Mahon at (508) 528-1286, or

I hope to see you there.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Bishop Fenwick game preview: Schizophrenia

To say the Bishop Fenwick offense is in transition would be an understatement.

In last year's 42-21 Pioneer victory over the Crusaders, Bishop Fenwick ran the spread offense similar to Lynnfield's. They had an experienced senior quarterback in Bret Kidik who threw for 2711 yards and 23 touchdowns on the season and a receiver in Ryan Lipka who caught a record setting 115 passes.

Despite the high octane passing game, BF struggled through a 3-8 year. Kidik, Lipka and 12 other seniors have graduated, and the Crusaders are going with a youth movement.

They have also ditched the spread offense and now focus on the ground game from the I formation. Unless they go into their Wing T offense, a long time favorite of BF coach Dave Woods. Suffice to say, they pose a lot of preparation problems.

"They do a whole bunch of stuff that we're going to have to prepare for," said Pioneer head coach Neal Weidman. "They're in the spread a little bit, the wing T a little bit and the I a little bit. They do a ton of stuff."

In their first two games, both losses, the Crusaders ran the ball 95% of the time. That would be expected with a sophomore quarterback in Nick Bona at the controls. Although he was named a captain as a sophomore, he is still feeling his way with the varsity, and in 34-14 loss to Northeast and a 20-0 defeat to Weston, Woods was hesitant to put the ball in the air.

Against Weston, they trailed 14-0 at halftime and came out running in the second half. Even falling behind 20-0, they continued to run the ball.

Which brings up another oddity about Fenwick. They are not very big, except in the backfield. Their two monster runnings backs are Fran Hannon (6'1" 210 lbs) and freshman Rufus Rushins (6'1" 220) (and isn't that the perfect name for a running back.)

However, their offensive line averages 5'10, 192 lbs.

Their game plan is to clearly pound the two running backs out of the I formation. They like the quick give to Hannon who is the up man in the I. If he doesn't get the ball, he becomes the biggest lineman on the field opening up holes for Rushins, or Eric Razney, another back that sees a lot of action.

Against the big line of Northeast, which the Pioneers tangled with in their scrimmage, Fenwick could not get much going from the I. NE defensive coordinator Joe Papagni put seven or eight men in the box to stop the running game, daring the Crusaders to pass. They never did, but they did switch to the wing T (think Amesbury and Ipswich with inside handoffs and reverses) in the second half and had a little more success.

Against Weston, they ran the I most of the game, and sustained several long drives but were unable to score.

Defensively, Fenwick was no match for the Northeast roadgrader offensive lineman and the Knights jumped out to a 20-7 lead. The Crusaders closed to 20-14 but NE blew it open in the fourth quarter as they wore down the smaller Fenwick line and won going away.

Weston runs the spread like Lynnfield. They didn't throw often, although they did score on a 36 yard TD pass. They did have good success with the quarterback running on the pull and go play out of the spread. Their first two touchdowns came on that play and they also had several other big gainers that way.

With the way Mike Karavetsos has been deftly handling the fakes, look for him to do some damage running the ball.

Which brings us to the Pioneers, which has also shown a split personality so far this year.

Against Newburyport, they ran for 173 yards but only had 12 through the air. But last week against Amesbury, Karavetsos had a breakout day completing 11 of 18 for 214 yards and a TD but they could manage only 44 yards rushing.

They will be looking to get the best of both worlds against Fenwick.

The key will be controlling the two big Fenwick backs and forcing them to go to the air, which they have been reluctant to do. If the Pioneers allow the bruising runners to run wild, that would mean trouble for the locals. Offensively, they need to continue to fine tune the spread and convert  some of the plays that Weidman felt were there against Amesbury.

Game time at the Middle School field is 11 am.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

The 1986 Super Pioneers: Lynnfield Cuts Through the Fog in Wayland

To commemorate the 25th anniversary of the only Pioneer team to make it to the Super Bowl, I am taking a week by week look back at the Super 1986 season.

The LHS Football Wayback Machine
September 19, 1986

From the Lynnfield football program's inception in 1958, the Pioneers traditionally opened the season against Wayland, a fellow member of the Dual County League in the early years. When Lynnfield left the DCL to join the Cape Ann League in 1973, the Pioneers continued to play the Warriors in their non-league opener. In 25 previous meetings, the Pioneers held a slim 13-12 edge. However, the Pioneers dominated in the first half of the 1980's. They came into the 1986 game riding a 5-0 streak against the Warriors, outscoring them 95-14 and shutting them out three times. They were coming off a 28-6 win in 1985.

It would not be so easy in the 1986 opener.

According to the account by Villager reporter Rob Irion, the Pioneers literally and figuratively played in a fog for most of the night. On a wet field in Wayland, playing in a persistent mist, the Pioneers could never really get untracked.

The Warriors stunned Lynnfield on their opening possession marching 43 yards for a score on a 9 yard pass play. The PAT failed, but the home team jumped out to a quick 6-0 lead.

It looked like the Pioneers would answer when Bill Aldenberg recovered a Wayland fumble at the Warrior 36 yard line as the first quarter ended. Runs by co-captain Todd Coviello and Jason Mochi got it to the 16 yard line but Coviello was stopped on a fourth and one and the Pioneers couldn't score the equalizer.

The defense came to the rescue later in the second period when junior tackle John Dean sacked the Wayland quarterback twice to pin the Warriors on their own 11 yard line. The ensuing punt gave the Pioneers the ball in great field position on the Wayland 42.

Mochi carried to the 25 for a first down. Then quarterback Jay Kelleher pitched to Coviello who rocketed down the right sideline to knot the score at 6-6. A bad snap botched the extra point try but the teams went in at the half tied 6-6.

Compounding the Pioneers' struggles was the loss of Coviello, who spent the second half on the sideline icing his knee. He told Irion "I made a cut on a run and strained my knee. I won't risk it tonight, but I'll be back next week."

Keller was 0-4 in the first half, so Adams decided to change things up in the second half and inserted Dave Frontero at quarterback.

"We just wanted to mix things up," Adams told Irion. "Frontero's a much shiftier kid. It wasn't to slight Jay. He might be back next week. He threw the ball well in the first half."

With Coviello sidelined, the running burden fell to Mochi who responded. He picked up 67 yards on the night, most of those in the second half.

The defense struck again when Scott Yerardi recovered a fumble on the first play of the second half. A holding penalty backed the Pioneers to mdfield, but that didn't phase Mochi who took a pitchout and raced 50 yards for an apparent go ahead touchdown. The score was nullified on a clipping call which did not please Adams.

"That was called when Jason was 25-30 yards downfield," Adams said.

The Pioneers broke through late in the third quarter when Frontero found Mark Sutera with a 16 yard scoring pass. Frontero looked to pass for the two point conversion, but instead ran through a gaping hole on the right side to make it 14-6.

But Wayland made one last valiant attempt.

Late in the fourth quarter, the Warriors marched to the Lynnfield 4 yard line. They had four chances to punch in the potential tying score, but the defense was having none of it.

On first down, Sutera dropped the Wayland quarterback for a one yard loss. After an incomplete pass on second down, co-captain Daryl Carty swatted down a pass on third down. Then on fourth down, Frontero made a diving breakup of a pass in the endzone to preserve the win.

"I'm really happy to get out of here with a win," Adams told Irion after the game. "We knew they were a tough team but I didn't think it would be this tough. The way they played, theoretically, we should have lost."

Escaping with a non-league win was one thing, but a more serious problem loomed for the Pioneers: the condition of running back Todd Coviello. Adams didn't agree with Coviello's rosy proclamation that he would be ready for the league opener the following week. Adams had a terse, one word answer when asked if Coviello would be available for the important league opener against Newburyport.

"Doubtful," Adams said succintly.

Next: Under the Friday Night Lights for the league opener in Newburyport.

If you played on or were involved with the 1986 team and would like to share a memory, please pass it on to me at

Monday, September 19, 2011

Around the CAL/NEC 4: Week 2

All non-league games again this week. Georgetown was off but everyone else was in action.

First let's take a look at the standings.

If there was ever any doubt, there is more evidence this week that the big gorilla on the CAL/NEC 4 block is Hamilton Wenham. For the second week in a row the Generals defeated a former CAL Large and current CAL/NEC 3 opponent to up their record to 2-0.

This week they thumped Pentucket 30-7 which should definitely throw a scare into the hearts of the rest of the CAL/NEC 4. Granted the Sachems were without their big running back Sean Brennan, but I'm not sure he could account for the entire 23 point difference. More concerning than the score was the fact that Pentucket coach Steve Hayden told Dan Harrison of the Salem News that "physically they were better than us."

That is high praise indeed from the coach of a team that prides itself on steamrolling opponents with a relentlessly physical Wing T ground game.

The Sachems opened the game with their usual "death march" running attack, methodically driving 67 yards in 8:18 with DJ Engelke pounding in from the three. But that would be all Pentucket would celebrate on the day.

The Generals responded on their first drive with a 23 yard Elliot Burr TD that made it 7-6. They then quickly converted two Pentucket fumbles in their own territory into another pair of scores. Trevor Lyons hit Matt Putur with a six yard screen pass for the first TD then ran it in for the two. Burr made the Sachems pay for the second turnover with a one yard blast. Lyons and Putur converted the two and before you could say "defending CAL Small Champs", the Generals led the stunned Sachems 22-7.

Lyons added the final score in the second half on an eight yard rush and Burr added the two point conversion to account for the final score.

Apparently the Generals' only weakness is lack of a kicking game since after missing the PAT on the first TD they went for two every other score. That Achilles heal would have come in handy last year when H-W beat the Pioneers on a last minute field goal, but no use crying over spilled pigskin.

The Generals travel to Newburyport Friday night in what looks to be a VERY interesting contest.

And speaking of World War Memorial Stadium, North Reading sailed into the "Home Port of the Clippers" last Friday night and had their brand new single wing offense stuffed and mounted. Newburyport picked up where they left off against the Pioneers and swatted the Hornets 28-6.

North Reading moved the ball well with their tight split blocking schemes against Saugus last week, but found little running room against the Clippers.

"They went seven guys on the line and they're very, very good skilled kids," Wall told me on Saturday. "They were letting them fly around and make plays."

Newburyport's first team defense stymied outstanding Hornet running back Carl Lipani until they had built up a 28-0 lead. With the Clipper second team defense in, NR mounted their only scoring drive with Lipani picking up most of the yardage including their only TD.

Wall obviously did his homework and watched as Clipper QB Connor Wile and receiver Brett Fontaine put up big numbers against the Pioneers last week. His defense was set up to stop the passing game but Fontaine instead did it on the ground, collecting 136 yards rushing, mostly on sweeps from his end position.

"They had one good pass on a broken play and got a lot of yards on that," Wall said. "Other than that I thought we had him stifled but then they handed him the ball. Credit to them. They're big up front, very physical and great skill kids."

So how are things going with the Hornets and their new offense?

"Until (Friday night) I thought it was going real well," said Wall. "We still saw some things that were there but then they were just more physical. You say 'well we can run this' and then they just stuff it. They had a good scheme going. When they're bigger and they're going to play more physical, it doesn't really matter what offense you run."

"We're young and that's part of our problem," he continued. "And it showed (Friday night). We only started two seniors on defense. It looks good for the future, but how many 28-7 drubbings do you have to take."

The Hornets (1-1) will try and get back on the winning track when they travel to Landry Stadium in Amesbury this Friday night.

Manchester-Essex (1-1) broke into the win column for the first time with a 23-19 seesaw battle at CAL/NEC 3 Saugus. The lead changed hands six times as the two teams exchanged haymakers back and forth.

The big gun for the Hornets was junior running back Jake Fitzgerald who had a pair of touchdowns. M/E led 7-6 on a pass from Corey Burnham to John Beardsley. They took the lead back 15-12 on an eight yard run by Fitzgerald then notched the game winner on a one yard plunge by Fitzgerald.

Former Pioneer defensive coordinator Greg Haberland was in attendance and said that the Hornet line was big and opened some nice holes for Fitzgerald.

The Hornets host Cathedral on Friday night.

Ipswich (0-1) stumbled out of the starting gate with a 40-8 loss to CAL/NEC 2 Marblehead.

The young Tigers, who graduated over a dozen seniors, was pinned in its own territory most of the night as the Magicians pulled out to a 40-0 lead. They avoided the shutout thanks to a Peter Moutevelis 81 yard kickoff return.

Things don't get much easier for Ipswich this week when they travel to Triton to take on Pat Sheehan's Vikings.

And finally, speaking of Sheehan, congrats to the former Pioneer offensive coordinator and captain as his Vikings finally broke through snapping a 12 game losing streak with a 28-27 squeaker against Haverhill.

The Vikes gave up 301 yards to Hillie running back Chance Brady and had to stop a two point conversion try in the middle of the fourth quarter to secure the win, but they got it done.

"It's a huge weight off our shoulders," Sheehan told me. "The kids were real excited."

That's it for now. Check back Thursday for my preview of this week's Bishop Fenwick game.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Amesbury Leftovers

Anyone relatively new to following Lynnfield High football should not take yesterday's win for granted. Despite being outplayed, the Pioneers were able to make enough plays to win.

Not too long ago, these were the games Lynnfield routinely lost. That is a credit to how far the program has developed under head coach Neal Weidman. Winning is an attitude and that has much to do with the way the Pioneers were able to pull out a win that probably should have been a loss.

Which is not to say the head coach was very happy with the way his squad played.

"We were out there too long," he said after the game. "They made too many first downs. Did we run an offensive play in the second half?"

Weidman was being facetious but he wasn't far off. The Pioneers ran ZERO offensive plays in the third quarter and nine overall in the second half.

"The defense made the plays when they needed to, but we have to get off the field on third down," Weidman continued. "We're not doing a good job that way. Too many third and shorts and too many big plays on third and long."

Amesbury was 6 for 13 on third down and 2 for 5 on fourth down. The three misses on fourth down came at the Lynnfield one yard line, 21 and on the final play of the game.

I asked the coach if Amesbury was doing anything special to allow them to run up nearly 400 yards of offense.

"They were blocking us," he deadpanned.

But he did give credit to the Amesbury running game which features waves of backs coming at you.

"They're good," Weidman said. "They run the wing T and they run it well. They're young but you can tell they have kids that are into it."

The Indians had four runners with over 50 yards. Quarterback Matt Talbot (82), Delante Castle (65 and two TD's), CJ Collin (60) and Stephan Deas (58). Fullback Perry Mroz had 36 and sophmore Ben Cullen had 28. That's a lot of production.

That explains why they were able to hold the ball three times as long as the Pioneers Saturday.

"It was ridiculous," said Weidman. "We've got to get off the field on defense. We've got to figure that out."

I asked Amesbury head coach Thom Connors how they were able to run so well against the Pioneers.

"We think we have a good running game," Connors told me. "We stick with it. We practice it a lot. It's pretty simple. We were just able to move the ball. They were giving us  a few things that we were able to take advantage of."

Weidman wasn't too happy with his offense either.

"We dropped two passes that should have been touchdowns," he said. "We are not capitalizing when we need to. They were begging us to throw. They were covering three guys with two. We can't drop bubble passes. It was there. Either we dropped it or we're running 30 yards down the sideline and then we get a holding call. That type of stuff will drive you crazy. We had a chance to put it away, but for some reason we weren't able to do it."

So as poorly as the Pioneers played and as productive as Amesbury was moving the ball, how did the Indians not win?

"We made crucial mistakes,"said Connors, "and when you make crucial mistakes to a good football team, this is what happens. And (Lynnfield) is a good football team. Neal does a great job with them. They're well coached and disciplined. We just made big mistakes when we couldn't afford to."

Bottom line, the Pioneers dodged a bullet and got the win. Learn from it and move on.

Going for Two?
When the Indians scored early in the fourth quarter, some were wondering if Connors should have gone for the two point conversion to take the lead.

"I thought about going for two at that point," Connors told me. "It was nine minutes left and we were doing a pretty good job of stopping them. We'd only given them one touchdown on a blown coverage."

He could have added that the Lynnfield defense wasn't exactly stopping the Amesbury offense.

The other factor may have been that although the Indians averaged 5.3 yards per carry against Lynnfield, the Pioneer defense did stop Amesbury for one yard or less 15 times up to that point. That included the huge goal line stand on the Indians' opening drive.

As it turns out, Tyler Palumbo threw a monkey wrench into Amesbury's plans with the winning play, sneaking through to block the PAT.

Karmic Payback
The Pioneers have now beaten Amesbury three straight times and in two of the three, they were outplayed by the Indians and won the game on similar plays.

"(A. J. Gallo's) fumble return won us the game," Weidman said. "It was like two years ago when Timmy (Lamusta) returned one for a touchdown. Without that we lose that game. They outplayed us today and they outplayed us two years ago when we won. But that's how this series has been. Whoever has played the worst has won.

"When they won the Super Bowl (in 2008) we outplayed them up there and lost 13-12. We played them the year before that and outplayed them and lost 20-15," he said.

"Next year both of the coach's strategies will be to play worse than the other team and you'll win," Weidman joked. "It's unbelievable."

Yesterday's game was eeriely familiar to the 2008 game that Weidman referred to. In that game three years ago, Amesbury was on the way to a Super Bowl Championship and the Pioneers were struggling through a 3-8 year in Weidman's first season.

The Pioneers dominated time of possession two to one, had more total yards 290-193, more first downs 16-7 and double the plays 64-32.

Gino Cohee, then a sophomore, scored touchdowns of six and four yards to give the Pioneers a 12-0 half time lead. Amesbury cut it to 12-7 early in the third period and then won it when quarterback Jared Flannigan sprung lose on a 63 TD run in the middle of the fourth quarter.

Looks like yesterday's win was a payback from the football gods.

The Play That Almost Wasn't
The Pioneers' first TD was a pretty 93 yarder from Mike Karavetsos to Jonathan Rogers, but it came perilously close to never happening.

After the Pioneers outstanding goal line stand, which not only kept the Indians out of the endzone, but prevented them from getting a first down at the one yard line, Lynnfield took over on the one.

On the first play from scrimmage following the stand, Karavetsos carried up the middle. The ball was shaken loose and it looked like a disastrous turnover deep in Pioneer territory.

But Karavetsos dived into the pile and came up with the recovery. Two plays later, Karavetsos and Rogers hooked up for the long distance TD.

Rogers Out?
Speaking of Rogers, Weidman said after the game that he may be out for the year with a torn ligament in his thumb.

That would be a shame. This was a break out game for the senior who is in his first year playing for the Pioneers. He had four receptions for 136 yards against Amesbury and was looking like a real threat.

Hopefully he will be able to return to the lineup at some point.

Warned by Waisnor
In my preview post of the Amesbury game I noted that the Pioneers would be trying to stop the run to put the ball in the hands of inexperienced quarterback Matt Talbot and force him to beat them with the passing game.

Shortly after I posted, I received an email from the Voice of the Pioneers, Tom Waisnor, with the ominous subject line "Beware Matt Talbot."

In his message, Tom stated, "This might sound funny, but when Matt Talbot was 12, he single handedly defeated our youth football team and ended our 23 game unbeaten streak. (This team is currently the juniors). I have video...this kid could throw. I still have nightmares."

Well the Pioneers did force the ball into Talbot's hands, but instead of throwing it, he ended up running with it picking up huge chunks of yardage running outside. Talbot turned out to be the Indians' leading running back with 82 yards on 15 carries. He was fairly pedestrian throwing, completing five of 11 for 39 yards.

You can sleep well for another year Tom. But Talbot is only a junior so we'll see him again next season.

Still Impressed
I asked Connors after the game how he thought the Pioneers looked compared to last year.

"They do a good job running that offense," he replied. "They're young and learning it. They were a well oiled machine last year so were a lot tougher to play. But we have battles with them all the time. Obviously they graduated some great kids. But they're coming. They're going to win football games. They're a good team."

- Junior Alex Roper nailed two more PAT's, one of them the game winner, and is now four for four on the season.
- Amesbury was forced to punt only once all game
- This was the Pioneers' first one point victory since 2006 when they edged Hull 8-7 at the Middle School field.
- Gallo's fumble recovery for a touchdown was the first since Tim Lamusta's against Amesbury in 2009.
- The Pioneers did not get their initial first down until midway in the second period. They finished with only six first downs
- The Pioneers are now 23-15-1 against Amesbury all time. They have outscored the Indians 589-580.
- The Lynnfield defense has now given up 642 yards in two games, 447 on the ground and 195 passing. They have allowed 37 first downs and have lost the time of possession battle by exactly a two to one margin - 58:40 to 29:20

Campus Update
Former Pioneer captains Gino Cohee and A. J. Roberto found themselves on opposite sidelines for the first time ever Saturday afternoon when Merrimack College hosted Pace University in North Andover.

Unfortunately for Cohee, his Setters took it on the chin as the Warriors romped 63-7. Roberto was credited with one unassisted tackle for Merrimack who improved to 2-1. Cohee didn't make it into the stat column. The Setters are now 1-2

Meanwhile down in Milton, another former Pioneer captain Jeff Gannon is seeing action for the 2-1 Curry College Colonels. According to dad Mike, Gannon is being used primarily as a blocking fullback. He has carried twice for net five yards.

OD's Run
And its not too early to start thinking about participating in OD's Run which will be held this Sunday, September 25 at 10 am.

The annual 5K memorial road race and walk is held to raise funds for scholarships awarded in memory of Johnny "OD" O'Donnell. Johnny is a former Pioneer football player and this event is a tribute to his short life.

For more information contact Karen Mahon at (508) 528-1286, or

That's it for now. Check back tomorrow night when I take a look around the league.

Saturday, September 17, 2011


Big plays trumped big numbers today as the Pioneers notched their first win of the year with a nail-biting 14-13 victory over Amesbury.

The Indians rolled for nearly 400 yards of offense, but the Pioneers stopped them at the one, 21 and 27 yard lines to seriously limit the damage and stay in the game.

The Pioneers got big play TD's on a 92 yard pass from Mike Karavetsos to Jonathan Rogers and a 70 yard return of a fumble recovery by A. J. Gallo. Alex Roper added both extra points, the second of which turned out to be the margin of victory.

And probably the biggest play of the game was Tyler Palumbo's PAT block that preserved the win.

You can get all the details and action photos in my game account in the Villager on Wednesday. Meanwhile check back here tomorrow night for my Leftovers post.

And has been said before, they don't draw pictures on the scoreboard.

Pioneers are now 1-1.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Amesbury Game Preview: Storm the Castle

For the second week in a row, the Pioneers will face a familiar foe from the CAL and CAL Small in the Amesbury Fighting Indians.

The Pioneers and Indians have clashed 38 times since 1973 and Lynnfield owns a 22-15-1 edge in the series. They currently have a two game winning streak as a result of two come from behind victories in the past two years.

In 2009 it was the Evan Panzero strip and Tim Lamusta fumble recovery for a 29 yard touchdown with six minutes to play that lifted the Pioneers to a 14-10 win.

Last year, the Pioneers trailed 13-7 at halftime but exploded for 23 unanswered points in the second half to cruise to a 30-13 win. That outburst included two touchdowns by this year's tri-captain Mike Thomas.

The Indians went on to finish 4-7 last year and lost significant firepower to graduation. Gone are quarterback Tyler Lay, running backs Ian McLaughlin (who also anchored the defense) and Matt Enaire and receiver/kicker Nick Croce.

Left behind to pick up the slack are three dynamic running backs in Delante Castle, C. J. Collins and Stephan Deas. Castle and Deas carried only four times against the Pioneers last year, but they gained 53 yards. Both are electric. Castle dismembered Manchester Essex last week with 110 yards and three TD's in 11 carries in a 28-7 rout of the Hornets. Collins carried nine times for 109 yards.

There was some poor tackling on the part of the Hornets and the Pioneers are going to have to make sure they wrap up those runners or they will run wild again.

The biggest hole that Amesbury head coach Thom Connors has to fill is at quarterback. He held a four player tryout this preseason and the winner was Matt Talbot, who was listed as a running back last year.

Connors has admitted that Talbot has not played very much at quarterback, so expect most of his contributions to come in the running game. Against M/E, Talbot threw sparingly (1 for 6 for 6 yards), but then again, with Castle and Collins, he didn't have to put it up much.

The Pioneers will likely load up on the running game and dare Talbot to beat them through the air. The Lynnfield defense was solid against the run against Newburyport in the first half but the Clippers broke through in the second half behind Tyler Martin's strong performance. The Indians will come in thinking they can run against the Pioneers.

Offensively, Lynnfield will be looking to improve in the passing game as they try to get into the win column. The Pioneers were solid running the ball against Newburyport, picking up 173 yards on the ground behind quarterback Mike Karavetsos (105 yds) and Thomas (68 yds). The Pioneers averaged 5.2 yards per carry.

Karavetsos was 2 for 9 for 12 yards passing, so any pick up there should give the Amesbury defense something else to worry about.

But ultimately the Pioneers want to put the game in the hands of Talbot and to do that, they need to corral the Indians running game. The extent to which they can do that should determine the outcome of this one.

Game time at the Middle School is 11 am.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

The 1986 Super Pioneers: Not So Great Expectations

2011 year marks the 25th anniversary of the only Lynnfield football team to make it to the Super Bowl. I thought it would be appropriate for today's Pioneer fans to follow that 1986 team week by week as they moved through that historic season.

Each Wednesday, I will post an article of what was happening with the Super '86 team that week 25 years ago. Most of my information comes from news articles from the Lynnfield Villager of that year and from retrospective interviews I have done over the years with Bill Adams, head coach of that squad, Harry Jameson who was an assistant coach and a few ex-players I have met along the way.

If you played on that team and want to share any memories of specific games, I'd love to include them. Just email me at

For my kickoff post of that special season, I look back at the preseason preview of that 1986 team and what the expectations were for them.

The LHS Football Wayback Machine
September 10, 1986
When preseason practices began for the 1986 squad, there were some huge holes to fill. The 1985 team had earned a share of the CAL Championship with a 9-1 record. Their only blemish was a 14-7 loss to the other co-champion North Andover.

Gone to graduation were CAL & Globe All Stars defensive lineman John Caruso and QB Mark Nevils. Running backs Scott Milne and Rob Lake were also gone. Milne scored 97 points, Lake posted 36 and Nevils tallied 12. That trio accounted for 65% of the 225 points the Pioneers racked up in 1985.

In its preview story, the Villager did not sound optimistic.

"It appears at first glance that Bill Adams' team will be hard pressed to match last year's championship performance," the article read.

But Adams, beginning his second year as Lynnfield head coach, put on a brave face.

"My outlook is pretty optimistic," he told the Villager. "We're really pulling together as a unit. I think we're at the same point defensively as we were last year and ahead of where we were offensively. We'll be very competitive throughout the year."

However when I interviewed him about the '86 season for a ten year retrospective in 1996 he admitted that he wasn't expecting a championship type season.

"I thought we has lost too much (from 1985) to repeat in 1986," Adams told me. "But we had a tremendous junior class led by Mark Sutera and Jason Mochi to supplement the four returning starters."

Assistant coach Harry Jameson had similar sentiments 10 years after the fact.

"We didn't have too many seniors so we didn't expect much," Jameson said.

Adams was clearly enamored of his co-captains tackle Darrell Carty (6'3" 230) and FB/LB Todd Coviello (6'1" 200). The pair were the only full time returning starters from the '85 champs and Adams called them "the heart of the team."

As Adams and his staff of Jameson, Paul Harrington and Scott Brennan prepared for the season, they had to deal with a quarterback concern. Senior Jay Kelleher was expected to be the starter but he was dealing with a knee injury and was day to day. Junior Dave Frontero was handling most of the snaps in Kelleher's absence.

They represented a contrast in styles as Kelleher was the classic drop back passer while Frontero was smaller and faster and presented more of a running threat.

Adams told the Villager that the complete Pioneers' lineup looked like this:

QB - Frontero/Kelleher
RB - Coviello
RB - Jason Mochi
RB-  Mark Sutera
WB - Mark Guido
WR - Ron Grasso
WR - David Callahan
T - Carty
T - Dan Madden
G - Paul Booras
G - Chris Loomos
C - Kevin Murphy
PK - Frontero
K - John Wilson

T - Carty
T - John Dean, Booras
E - Callahan
E - Bill Aldenberg
NG - Loomos
LB - Coviello
LB - Sutera
CB - Kelleher
CB - Steve Bucci, Mike Pascucci
S - Frontero
S - Mochi, Scott Yerardi

In handicapping the rest of the league, Adams felt that Newburyport, Triton and North Andover appeared to be the top obstacles to the Pioneers title defense. Those three just happened to be the first three teams on Lynnfield's league schedule.

That being the case, the Pioneers were going to find out quickly how they measured up in 1986.

Next: The Pioneers non league opener against Wayland.

If you played on or were involved with the 1986 team and would like to share a memory, please pass it on to me at

Monday, September 12, 2011

Around the CAL/NEC 4: Week One

Ipswich had a bye this week before opening up with Marblehead next Friday, but all the other teams in the league saw their first action. Let's take a look.

As predicted here, North Reading appears to be a load this season. They opened at home against Saugus and used their new single wing offense to good effect, rolling over the Sachems 20-0.

The Hornets threw only twice all night as they steamrolled to 232 yards on the ground. Junior running back Carl Lipani, who has played since he was a freshman, appears to be the biggest beneficiary of the new offense. He rushed for 161 yards and three touchdowns (three, nine and seven yards).

Almost as impressive as the offense was the NR defense which blanked Saugus and held them to 124 yards of offense. Saugus did manage to get into the redzone twice, but the Hornet defense, led by linebacker Mike Moscaritolo, shut them down both times.

The Hornets travel to Newburyport this Friday, so we should get a good comparison look at them following that game.

Defending CAL Small champion and preseason CAL/NEC 4 favorite Hamilton-Wenham traveled to Byfield to open up the season last Friday night. I was on hand to hopefully witness Pat Sheehan's first win as head coach at Triton. Unfortunately for Sheehan and his Vikes, Triton continued their snake bitten ways with a 6-0 loss to the Generals.

The General defense was outstanding, shutting down the Lynnfield-like spread offense of Triton. The Vikes made it into H-W territory only once in seven possessions and that only to the General 30. Triton managed only 96 total yards of offense.

Of course it's tough to muster any offense when you can't get your hands on the ball. The Generals still deploy that smash mouth Stack I, but this year they have moved standout junior tailback Trevor Lyons to quarterback with bulldozing runner Elliot Burr as the feature back. With those two backs, the Generals look to play ball control, which they did against Triton.

In the first half, the Generals ran off 31 plays and consumed 16 minutes and 19 seconds of the 20 minute half. The Vikings had the ball for only 3:41 and nine plays.

The General's opening drive turned out to be the only scoring march of the game. H-W drove 76 mind numbing yards in a methodical march that took 15 plays. There was only one pass on the drive and it was a big one.

On fourth and 12 from the 25, it looked like the Vikes might stop the drive and get off the field. But Lyons found Matt Putur over the middle for a 21 yard gain to the four yard line. Two plays later, Burr punched in the TD from two yards out. The kick was no good, but H-W had put up what would turn out to be the winning points.

Triton did better in the second half, picking up 74 yards and holding the Generals to one first down after H-W had picked up 10 in the first half. However, they could never come close to getting into the endzone and the result was another loss for Triton.

"I thought our offense was going to output a little more," Sheehan said after the game. "They did a great job of keeping the ball away from us. The second half I think we made some great defensive adjustments. We started to take the run game away a little bit. Offensively we just couldn't get into a rhythm tonight."

"(Burr) is a big dude, 220 pounds and tough to take down," Sheehan said. "And (Lyons) is getting better at throwing at throwing the ball. We weren't too worried about his arm but he did enough tonight.

"We had a better second half, but we just didn't make enough plays," Sheehan concluded.

The Generals host Pentucket Saturday afternoon.

Georgetown stepped down three divisions and started the season with an impressive 25-14 win over defending Mayflower Small Champion West Bridgewater in the first game for new head coach Paul Sobolewski. The game was supposed to be played in Georgetown, but when some mosquitoes were found to be infected with the West Nile virus in Georgetown, all outdoor sports contests were cancelled so the game was moved to West Bridgewater.

Quarterback Tyler Wade led the way for the Royals with 123 yards rushing, 68 yards passing and two touchdowns. The game was knotted at 6-6 at half time but Georgetown pulled ahead with a TD in the third and early in the fourth to take a 19-6 lead. Both teams added late scores to account for the 25-14 final.

Sobolewski told the Newburyport Daily News that he was particularly happy with the win since the Royals were playing seven sophomores on defense and eight sophomores on offense.

The Royals are off this week then travel to Haverhill to take on Whittier on Saturday, September 24.

Manchester Essex hosted Amesbury, the Pioneers' next opponent, Friday night at Hyland Field, but couldn't control running back Delante Castle and fell 28-7. Castle scored three times to lead Amesbury.

Man-Essex actually led this one 7-6 at the end of the first period, but the Indians ramped it up from there scoring 22 unanswered points to swat the Hornets.

M-E Quarterback Corey Burnham, whose only previous start came against the Pioneers opening night last season,  was at the control for the Hornets. Jacob Fitzgerald scored the Hornets' only TD on a 30 yard run.

Manchester-Essex travels to Saugus to take on the Sachems Friday night.

That's it for now. Check back Wednesday night, when I'll be starting a special weekly series on a very special Pioneer season.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Newburyport Leftovers

This one was billed as the battle between the Pioneers' experienced line vs the Clippers experienced skill position players. The question going in was whether the green Newburyport line would give the talented duo of receiver Brett Fontaine and running back Tyler Martin enough room to operate. And also how would Clipper quarterback Connor Wile play in his first varsity start.

We got our answer.

There is no question there were issues along the Clipper line. They were flagged five times for motion or offsides and in the first half, the Pioneers contained Martin. However as the game wore on, the line settled in and allowed the Clipper stars to shine.

You can read my full game account in Wednesday's Villager but let's take a closer look at some of the Clipper standout performances.

Fabulous Fontaine
In particular, the Wile to Fontaine connection burned the Pioneers badly. The two hooked up ten times for 146 yards and a score. Incredibly, nine resulted in Newburyport first downs and the tenth was for the touchdown.

One play in particular tells you how the Clipper coaching staff feels about Fontaine and why that feeling is justified.

Early in the fourth period, as the Clippers got to the line of scrimmage, one of the Newburyport assistant coaches on the sideline became visibly excited.

"Look at number 80! Look at number 80!" he screamed. "Get him the ball Connor. Get it to him."

What the coach had seen was Fontaine lining up wide left with Pioneers' Jon Rogers (number 80) lined up on him in what appeared to be single coverage. The coach was beseeching his quarterback Connor Wile to make sure he threw to Fontaine.

What the coach probably didn't realize was that Rogers, a senior, was playing in his first varsity game for the Pioneers. All he saw was one on one coverage of his star receiver and figured no one could cover Fontaine one on one.

As the play developed though, Rogers did stay stride for stride with Fontaine, maintained perfect inside position and covered him about as well as anyone could. But Wile dutifully did what his coach demanded and threw it 25 yards downfield anyway.

At the last second, Fontaine leaped up over Rogers and snagged the pass just as Rogers did. The two came down both holding on to the football, but the officials ruled it a catch and a first down. Rogers could not have played Fontaine any better on that play but it still resulted in 25 yard reception. Fontaine is just that good.

Getting Martinized
As for the ground side of the Clipper attack, Tyler Martin was as relentless as a bad toothache. Listed at 5'7" 185, the battering ram of a runner clearly plays bigger than that. The game plan was to send him into the teeth of the Pioneer defense and hope for the best.

In the first half, he wasn't getting much as the Pioneers controlled the line of scrimmage. As the game wore on, the Clipper line started to calm down and the relentless pounding began to take effect.

In his first 13 carries, Martin picked up only 36 yards, a 2.8 per carry average. However, his final 13 carries resulted in 76 yards and a touchdown, an average of 5.8 yards per carry. Included were runs of 17 yards, 15 and 15 for the score. His TD run is emblematic of the way he runs. He broke one tackle in the backfield and a final one as he dove into the endzone. He finished with 112 yards.

Weidman Encouraged
Though obviously not happy with the loss, Pioneer head coach Neal Weidman was encouraged with the way his young team played in their opening game.

"I know we had a lot of work to do which is still the case," Weidman told me after the game. "We had a few guys on the field that this was their first varsity game. That being said, they did some good things too.

"Defensively I thought we did really well," said Weidman. "They had two drives toward the end when they got downhill on us a little but up to that point we had played well defensively."

The return of Andrew Kibarian clearly bolstered the defense. After missing the preseason scrimmages, Kibarian returned with a vengence, with a blocked pass, 1 1/2 sacks and generally creating havoc with the Clipper offense.

"Offensively we actually moved the ball real well," the coach said. "We shot our selves in the foot, we missed a read here or missed a block there. And we had the "blown whistle" there."

The "blown whistle" on a second and seven from the Clipper 36 where the officials were faked out by Mike Karavetsos. The quarterback tucked the ball into tri-captain Mike Thomas' gut, pulled it out and headed downfield for what looked to be at least a big gain and possibly a touchdown. The Clippers bit on the fake and took down Thomas. Unfortunately, the officials bit as well and ruled the play dead, which was news to Karavetsos who had the ball in the open down the right sideline with blocker Steve Yobaccio in front of him.

The refs, duly embarrassed, couldn't do much after the fact except give the Pioneers a first down at the 28 which is where Karavetsos was when the whistle blew.

"We got the first down there," said Weidman. "but then we got to fourth and three and didn't pick it up. We turned the ball over on downs. Obviously we'd rather score the touchdown then turn the ball over on downs. Momentum may have swung there."

Weidman commented on the Pioneers inability to convert on three fourth down chances deep in Newburyport territory.

"It's good that we were in fourth and short a few times," he said. "Those are field position things that we have to convert on."

Budding Magician
Speaking of fakes, Karavetsos did a nice job with his sleight of hand on his ball faking against the Clippers.

"He's doing a good job on his fakes as you can tell by the "blown whistle," Weidman said.

He made another nice fake on his 64 yard TD run in the fourth quarter.

On running plays in the Pioneer offense, the quarterback has to read the defense and decide whether to hand off to the running back or pull it back and keep it. On the TD run, Karavetsos read the play perfectly, made the "pull", got a couple of nice blocks, broke a tackle and raced through the Clipper defense to the endzone.

I asked Weidman what the quarterback would be reading on that play and how he would make his decision to "give" or "pull."

"It depends on what the play is," the coach explained. "Sometimes it's the backside defensive end and sometimes it's the backside defensive tackle. The touchdown was a trap so he was reading the backside defensive tackle. So if (the defensive tackle) goes here and we don't block that defensive tackle and he then takes the back, (Karavetsos) pulls it and goes. If (the defensive tackle) comes up field (Karavetsos) gives it to the back and we run underneath him."

And you thought it was simple, right?

It ain't over till it's over
As the game wound down and the Clippers led 27-14 with the ball inside the Pioneer 20, the outcome was a foregone conclusion. That didn't faze Weidman who continued to use all his timeouts, forcing Clipper quarterback Wile to take a knee three times.

Was the coach sending a message to his young team.

"We just wanted the kids to know that we weren't going to give up," Weidman explained. "We should have been able to use (the timeouts) up the drive before, but (Martin) broke those tackles and scored. That's when we wanted to use them.

"I think the kids did a good job," he said summing up. "They went down and scored on us and we came right back and played tough. Like I said, we have a bunch of guys that are new. This is their first go at it. I can't complain with the effort."

- The Clipper Curse continues for the Pioneers who lost to Newburyport Saturday for the 31st time in 39 meetings.

- The loss snapped a 12 game home winning streak for the Pioneers. Their last home loss was on November 15, 2008 when they lost to Manchester Essex 35-21.

- The opening game loss was the first for Lynnfield since they fell to Georgetown 28-20 in 2007. It was the first home opener loss since a 7-6 loss to Georgetown in 2006.

- The 14 points scored by the Pioneers were the fewest at home since the 14-10 comeback win against Amesbury in 2009.

- The 27 points allowed was the most since that loss to M-E in 2008.

- The Pioneers had only one penalty all day, a 15 yard facemask call on the seventh play of the game.

- As has become his custom, Clipper head coach Ed Gaudiano did not coach his team from the sideline Saturday. He was perched up in the pressbox right next to Tom Waisnor, the stellar Voice of the Pioneers.

At the Car Wash
Fred Roberto told me to remind everyone about the Friends of Lynnfield Football Car Wash to be held next Sunday, September 18 behind the South Lynnfield Fire Station.

In Memoriam
And speaking of the Voice, prior to the game, Waisnor read a list of people associated with the Pioneer football program who passed away in the past year. They were:

- Lynn Fin, wife of Chris Finn, a coach in the youth program both football and cheering
- Thomas Terranova Sr., volunteer of youth program and father of Tom Terranova, head of the youth program
- Brian McGah, father of sophomore Kyle McGah, coach in the youth football program
- Sydney Vinci, four year old daughter of Tricia and Steven Vinci who have been involved in the youth program
- Stacy Monkiewicz, mother of children in the youth program. Matt Monkiewicz donates the Kayem hotdogs for the concessions stand at the games.

That's it for now. Check back tomorrow when I take a look at the weekend action around the league.

Saturday, September 10, 2011


It just seems that "bad news" and "Newburyport" always go together for Lynnfield football.

The Clippers ruined a perfect late summer Saturday morning and Lynnfield's home opener by coming to town and dropping the Pioneers 27-14 to start the 2011 season.

The Pioneers held their own for a while, playing to a 7-7 first half tie. In the second half they fell behind 20-7 then closed to 20-14 but ultimately they succumbed to a talented corps of Newburyport skill position players.

Junior quarterback Mike Karavetsos had a pair of touchdowns and the returning Andrew Kibarian had 1.5 sacks from the defensive side. The defense forced three turnovers, but the Pioneers couldn't turn them into points.

Overall, a good effort and definitely signs of some good things to come.

You can read my full game account in the Villager on Wednesday. Check back here tomorrow night for my Leftovers column for more on the opener.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Pioneers to Host Nemesis Newburyport in Opener

It feels odd to write that a game against Newburyport doesn't really matter, but in the new world order of 2011 (or at least in the world of north shore football), it really doesn't.

One of the beneficial byproducts of the merger of the Cape Ann League and the Northeast Conference into the 24 team superconference, is that the Clippers no longer stand in the way of the Pioneers' title hopes. The CAL/NEC has broken into four leagues of six team each. Lynnfield is in the CAL/NEC 4 with North Reading, Hamilton Wenham, Ipswich, Georgetown and Manchester-Essex.

Say bye bye to Newburyport and Amesbury who move up to the CAL/NEC 3 to join Triton, Pentucket, Winthrop and Saugus.

Well not really bye bye, but more like so long since the Pioneers will still play Newburyport, along with Amesbury and Pentucket. But those games no longer become life and death struggles with league title implications on the line.

So when the Clippers sail into town Saturday morning to open the season, it will be a non-league game. Of course that isn't to say the game won't still be intense. This year will be particularly interesting since it was Newburyport that derailed the Pioneer express last season.

After reeling off seven straight wins to start the 2010 season, the Pioneers cruised into Newburyport and were broadsided by the Clippers by a 24-7 count. The Pioneers would later lose a one point heartbreaker to Hamilton Wenham that officially ended their hopes of winning a second straight CAL Small crown.  But even if they had beaten the Generals, the loss to Newburyport would have kept them from repeating anyway.

You know that revenge has to be on the Pioneers' mind when they kick off against Newburyport.

Not that the Pioneers need any more inspiration when facing the Clippers.

Newburyport has been the brussels sprouts on Lynnfield's dinner plate since the two became charter members of the Cape Ann League in 1973. The Pioneers are 8-30 since then, by far their poorest record against any opponent.

In recent years, it has been even worse. Lynnfield is 3-21 since 1987 having been outscored 641-251 in those 24 games.

The Pioneers have had a few great moments against Newburyport, the biggest coming in 1977 when a 2-6 Pioneer team upset the Clippers 6-0 ending what had been the longest winning streak in Eastern Mass football at 38 games. But those high points have been few and far between.

Saturday's battle figures to be an evenly matched one. Both teams are faced with replacing talented players lost to graduation on both sides of the ball. Both teams will be looking at new quarterbacks but that is where the similarity ends.

The Pioneers' strength and experience lies in its offensive and defensive lines. Tri-Captains Jon Roberto and John Gaff lead a strong trench brigade. Tri captain Mike Thomas is an experienced running back, having picked up 445 yards and five touchdowns last season.

After that, the Pioneers get a little green.

Junior quarterback Mike Karavetsos was 2 for 5 for 8 yards and rushed 6 times for 38 yards last season. His main receiving corps of Alex Pascucci, Dan Ashwell, Steve Yobaccio, John Rogers and Niko Varano combined for three catches last season. Rogers and Varano weren't even on the squad.

And behind Thomas in the running game are Tyler Palumbo and Kyle McGah who combined had 17 carries for 71 yards and one touchdown by McGah.

But for a frame of reference, going into last season, Tri-captain Jeff Gannon and Thomas had combined for 133 yards and zero touchdowns in 2009. Last year that pair exploded for 903 yards and 13 TD's.

Lynnfield's young group of skill position players will need to make a similar jump in production for the Pioneers to be successful in 2011.

The Clippers graduated 13 players including quarterback Ryan O'Connor but they have nearly the opposite problem than the Pioneers. Their talent exodus came out of their offensive and defensive lines including mammoth tackles Tim Regan and Tim Lawler.

They will have an inexperienced quarterback in junior Connor Wile, but he will be surrounded by seasoned weapons. Receiver Brett Fontaine and tight end Jim Conway are back as is running back Tyler Martin who burned the Pioneers for 92 yards in last year's upset. Fontaine had four catches for 54 yards while Conway had a pair of catches for 18 yards.

The fact that the Pioneers' strength (defensive line) matches up against the Clippers' weakness (inexperience offensive line) favors Lynnfield. The Pioneers faced two outstanding offensive lines in scrimmages against Masco and Northeast and were not able to stop them. This matchup should prove to be more favorable. If not, the young Pioneer defense could be in for a long day.

Meanwhile, Pioneer head coach Neal Weidman is focusing on the development of his team. As you read in my Villager preseason preview Wednesday, Weidman feels the Pioneers will need four or five games to hit their stride.

"We just have to make sure that we stay positive and continue to improve," Weidman told me. "We've definitely improved already.

"The biggest thing is that we need to be consistent on both sides of the ball," the coach continued. "Right now we're not on either side of the ball. We do well offensively and then it's a missed block here or a dropped pass there, we drop a snap or something else happens.

"Defensively, we stop them then (against Northeast) we give up a touchdown drive where we give up two fourth down conversions," Weidman said. "We have to get off the field. It's just a consistency thing."

But Weidman is not surprised at the state of his squad right now.

"I think we're about where I thought we would be," he said. "I knew it was going to take some time to get come guys varsity ready. We're still working on that piece."

So what happens if the Pioneers do struggle through what appears to be a very difficult non-league schedule?

"We have to talk to them and let them know that they are playing good teams and the experience will be good," Weidman said. "We just have to keep getting better. "

And he can also keep reminding them that the games that really matter don't start until October 21 when the Pioneers travel to Ipswich for the first league game. But until then, some good football lies ahead.

And appropriately enough, it all starts Saturday against Newburyport.

Let's kick this baby off. Game time at the Middle School Field is 11:00 am.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Action Photos from Sunrise Photography

As we head into the season beginning Saturday, I just wanted to remind everyone that Sunrise Photography will be shooting at all the games and offering outstanding action photos of all the game action.

Jack Schnelle and myself literally take hundreds of pictures at each game, so we're bound to get something that you like.

To check out the gallery for each game, click on the Sunrise Photography ad at the lower left. Once you get to the site, to view the images click on "Gallery", navigate to the season (year) and the game you'd like to see and click on any image to start a slide show.

Images can be ordered and paid for on line. In the shipping section of "check out" be sure to indicate if you would like to pick up  your images at a local Lynnfield address or if you prefer that they be shipped.

This season we will also be offering jpegs of the photos as well.

Check it out after the Newburyport game.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Northeast Scrimmage, First Peek at Hornets and More

Lots of things to get to as we get ready for the Pioneers' opening game against Newburyport on Saturday.

First a reminder to pick up a copy of the Villager on Wednesday for my comprehensive season preview. I talk to head coach Neal Weidman about the season ahead and we go over the starters and key contributors at each position both offensively and defensively.

Let's begin with a wrap up of the Pioneers' final preseason scrimmage.

"Northeast"-er Buffets Pioneers
The Pioneers were nursing a 13-12 lead at halftime of their final preseason scrimmage against Northeast Metro last Saturday. But five plays into the second half, the complexion of the game changed completely and the end result was a convincing 28-13 win for the Knights.

Northeast came into the traditional Labor Day weekend tilt against the Pioneers as defending two time Division 4A Super Bowl champions. They look hungry for a third as they displayed a devastating power running offense that rolled through the Pioneer defense for 381 yards. Running back Bobby Novello led a rushing attack behind a huge forward wall that moved the ball pretty much at will.

The Pioneer offense, clearly improving over recent scrimmages against Triton and Masco, kept up with the Knights in the first half of the game-like scrimmage. After Northeast marched 70 yards to take a 6-0 lead on their first possession, the Pioneers answered back with a 70 yard drive of their own. The big play was a 62 yard catch and run from junior quarterback Mike Karavetsos to junior Alex Pascucci that got the Pioneers to the Northeast three yard line. Tri-captain Mike Thomas bulled his way in from there and junior Alex Roper nailed the PAT to give Lynnfield a 7-6 lead.

Once again though, the Knights went on the attack, bulldozing 80 yards on 16 plays to take a 12-7 lead.

The Pioneers answered once again on a 75 yard scoring drive. Karavetsos and Pascucci hooked up again for a big gainer, this one for 47 yards and a score. The kick was wide left but Lynnfield had a 13-12 lead.

Northeast mounted another drive and got as far as the Lynnfield five yard line. However a huge third down sack by junior DJ DeGeorge pushed them back to the 16 and time ran out on the Knights.

Things went south quickly for the Pioneers in the second half. On the first play of the third period, a Northeast lineman batted a Karavetsos pass, caught it himself and roared in for a 25 yard defensive score. Northeast made the two point conversion to take a 20-13 lead.

Things didn't get much better from there. The Pioneers took the following kick at their own 20, lost five yards and then gave up a safety when the snap from center sailed over the punter's head.

Leading 22-13, Northeast put together another long drive, this one 60 yards on 10 plays to score again and go up 28-13.

The Pioneers answered with a drive of their own but stalled at the Northeast 10 yard line. The fourth period was cut in half to give the teams a chance to work with the younger players in alternating 10 play sets and the game ended with a 28-13 Northeast win.

"We knew they were pretty good this year," Weidman told me afterwards. "They scrimmaged some good teams and have done well against them. That was a nice offensive line with two good backs."

"To be honest, if that ball doesn't get tipped at the beginning of the second half and we go down and score on that drive, we probably win the scrimmage," Weidman said.

I spoke to former Pioneer defensive coordinator Joe Papagni who now fills the same role with Northeast after the game and asked him if their running game was as good as it looked.

"We lost two linemen from last year, but the replacements are good," said Papagni, current Pioneer head lacrosse coach. "The kids are picking it up but the running backs are what makes it. Those kids are determined kids. They just want the ball all the time and they are competing against each other. That makes for a nice situation."

What did Papagni think of the Pioneers?

"Their backs made some of us miss," he said. "Our tackling is usually better than that. They seem to have a lot of numbers and they never give up.  It's good to see some of my lacrosse kids out there. Neal's got some multiple sport athletes out there so that's good."

The Pioneer offense picked up 201 yards in the 3 1/2 quarter scrimmage. Karavetsos was sharp completing 10 of 12 for 154 yards and a touchdown. His only incompletion other than the interception came on his last pass of the scrimmage. He also rushed five times for 18 yards.

Pascucci caught five passes for 116 yards and a score and senior Dan Ashwell had four receptions for 31 yards.

Sophomore Kyle McGah had a pair of carries for 13 yards.

Quick Start for A. J. Roberto
Not surprisingly, former Pioneer captain A. J. Roberto made his presence felt in his first game at Merrimack Saturday night. According to the game stats posted on the Merrimack web site, Roberto had three solo tackles in the Warriors' 60-3 demolition of WPI.

I ran into him at the Northeast scrimmage prior to the game and asked him what the biggest difference was between between high school and college ball.

"It's a lot faster and there's a lot more to learn," A. J. told me. He said the defensive playbook is about an inch and half thick.

I'm thinking those first three tackles are just the beginning of what will be an outstanding career for Roberto at Merrimack.

Hornets Should Sting This Year
It's never too early to take a quick look at the Pioneers' archrivals over in North Reading, especially this year when the Hornets look to be one of the primary contenders for the CAL/NEC 4 title.

Triton scrimmaged North Reading the day before facing the Pioneers and I asked Viking head coach Pat Sheehan how the Hornets looked.

"They are going to be a tough team," Sheehan told me. "They have a big line and have gone to "toe-to-toe" splits. They are tall and long and I'd say they look to be in the 220 pound range. They are running the Peabody single wing very similar to what Austin Prep runs - like novocaine. They love fourth and one. They are going to be a lot to prepare for with all the shifting they do.

"They moved the ball on us in smaller chunks, but they kept moving it," Sheehan said. "Offensively we moved the ball pretty well against them mostly through the air. It was a pretty evenly contested match."

"(North Reading head) coach (Jeff) Wall brought in Ed Melanson from Peabody and that's why they are running that offense. Wall does a tremendous job with the defense. Every year they haven't done very well with wins and losses but they were like us last year where they just compete every game until the end."

I asked Pat to compare the Hornets to the Pioneers.

"They are new to what they are doing right now and you can tell there's some confusion," he said. "But they are firing off the ball and doing a nice job. And Lynnfield came out and they fired off the ball and they hit us in the mouth a couple of times. That should be a really good Thanksgiving Day matchup this year."

Power Posting
With the season ready to begin, I'll be going into regular season posting mode so you're going to have to check back often to keep up. I'll have my game previews on Thursday night, my first game look right after the contest on Friday or Saturday, my more detailed Leftovers post on Sunday night and a look around the league on Monday nights.

And for those of you who enjoy my Glory Days look at Pioneer games of the past, I am hoping to begin a special series on Wednesdays that should run the entire season. Tentative start date for that will be September 14.

We'll kick it all off with my preview of the Newburyport game on Thursday.  Let the games begin.