Thursday, November 10, 2016

Greater Lawrence Game Preview: Hair of the Dog

by Tom Condardo

1. Chew some fresh ginger or peppermint.
2. Eat one or two bananas
3. Drink a glass of fresh tomato juice with a bit of lemon juice along with a slice of plain toast.

Say what?

Those are some simple home remedies for avoiding a hangover, and the Pioneers should consider one or two of them as they prepare for Saturday's game against Greater Lawrence. Or they could just partake of a hair of the dog that bit them - get back out there and play some football.

The Pioneers and Neal Weidman's coaching staff poured their heart and soul into preparing for the playoff semi-final against St. Mary's last Friday night. Although they danced with the Spartans for a while, in the end they couldn't overcome one of the best teams in Eastern Mass.

Now they have to get over it.

There is a real danger in getting back up after a disappointing playoff loss and we've seen it play out from both sides of the fence in recent years.

In 2013 following a hard fought divisional semi-final playoff loss to Bedford, the Pioneers came out flat as a pancake and fell behind Watertown 14-0. Weidman admitted the team had a "sluggish" week of practice and it looked like it carried over into the game.

Luckily, Dan Sullivan hit Jon Knee with a 30 yard TD pass with four seconds left in the first half to cut the lead in half. That seemed to wake the Pioneers who stuffed a Watertown scoring bid on their first possession of the third quarter when Matt Kramich picked off a pass at the five yard line.

Lynnfield then capped a 95 yard drive with a halfback option play when Jake Rourke hit Knee to cut the lead to 14-13. Not done tricking around, the Pioneers snapped directly to placekicker Dan Bronshvayg on the PAT who promptly found Austin Caswell cruising into the endzone to take a 15-14 lead.

Watertown jumped back out to a 20-15 lead but Kramich got it right back for Lynnfield with a 93 yard kickoff return and the Pioneers held on for a 21-20 win.

The Pioneers got to see the hangover affect from the other sideline last year when they faced Pentucket after both the Sachems and Lynnfield were eliminated in the first round. Pentucket suffered the bigger upset as they were the top seed and got knocked off by number eight Bedford.

Lynnfield pulled it together after their disappointing loss to Watertown to jump out to a 21-0 halftime lead over a dazed Pentucket team. Jake McHugh hooked up with Kyle Hawes for the first score, Drew McCarthy ran one in from 41 yards for a second TD, and McHugh found Louis Ellis for a six yard score to give them the three touchdown lead at the half.

Unfortunately Pentucket shook off the cobwebs in the second half and scored four times to only a single McCarthy score to escape with the 28-27 win.

Greater Lawrence Rolling
The Pioneers can't afford to sleepwalk into this one on Saturday because if they do, the Reggies will run them over. Greater Lawrence comes into the game at 6-3 and shook off their upset playoff loss to Ipswich two weeks ago by thrashing Winthrop 47-13 last week.

The Reggies, who finished as the third seed in D3A one spot ahead of the Pioneers, run a spread offense very similar to Lynnfield. They have two explosive skill players running it and the Pioneers are going to have to figure out a way to control them.

Running back Ojany Belliard is their leading scorer with 130 points on 21 touchdowns, the fourth highest score in D3A. He's been on fire the last five weeks rushing for 959 yards and 15 touchdowns in five games - an average of almost 200 yards and 3 TD's per game.

But the Pioneers can't sell out on Belliard or they will get torched by quarterback Kyle Vasconcellos who has been another potent weapon for the Reggies. In the last five games, Vasconcellos has run for 6 touchdowns, and completed 25 of 46 passes for 408 yards and 5 more TD's.

The Reggies have had a solid season beating two seven win teams in Shawsheen and Mystic Valley, but they lost to Northeast and Ipswich, two teams the Pioneers handled fairly easily. The question is which team will show up on Saturday.

This will be the first ever meeting between the schools, the second day game of the season for the Pioneers, their third game on natural grass, and their first morning game.

Game time in Andover is at 10:30 am.

That's it for now with one additional programming note. My Leftover post will be delayed since I will be spending Sunday in Western Mass celebrating my grandson's first birthday. I should have something up by Tuesday. Check back then.

Directions to Greater Lawrence High School from Lynnfield High:

Lynnfield High School

275 Essex Street, Lynnfield, MA 01940
Get on I-95 S
5 min (2.5 mi)
Take I-93 N to River Rd in Andover. Take exit 45from I-93 N
17 min (17.7 mi)
Continue on River Rd to your destination
3 min (0.8 mi)

Greater Lawrence Technical School

57 River Road, Andover, MA 01810

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