Monday, November 14, 2016

Greater Lawrence Leftovers

by Tom Condardo

I don't want to say I told you so, but.....well, I told you so.

After pouring their heart and soul into the D3A playoff semi-final against St Mary's, the Pioneers came out Saturday morning looking like they needed a massive shot of caffeine.

It's to be expected really. In every other high school sport, you play the regular season and build up to the tournament and if you make it, you keep playing. If you don't make it, your season is over. Likewise once you're bounced from the playoffs, you're off to the next sports season.

Football is different. Every team is going to play at least 10 games. Some will be pre-playoff and some will be post-playoff. There is no way around it unless you want to make the football season seven games and end it in October. No one would want that.

Teams that don't make the playoffs continue on playing other non-playoff teams hoping to pick up a win or three before their big Thanksgiving Day rivalry game.

It's actually a little harder for teams that make the playoffs. They have higher expectations with visions of Super Bowls dancing in their heads. Unfortunately, for all but 16 teams in the state, that dream will not be realized and they will be forced to deal with the massive letdown. For some, it comes after the first round. For others, the sectional semi-final or final, and for others, the state semi final.

Whenever it happens, the air comes out of the balloon and coaches have to regroup and pump the team back up to play a few more games that won't lead to the Super Bowl.

For the Pioneers, that came after the St. Mary's loss. And the crash was hard, as head coach Neal Weidman acknowledged after the Greater Lawrence win.

"Practices weren't that good so I wasn't overly surprised," Weidman said after watching his team play in a haze for the first quarter and a half Saturday. "That first week after you lose in the playoff is sometimes tough to get them rallied back up. We just weren't ready to play today."

The Pioneers managed only 10 yards of offense on their first three possessions - all three and outs. Meanwhile Greater Lawrence a team with a load of weapons, was rolling. The Reggies had the "advantage" of shaking off the cobwebs in a 47-13 rout of Winthrop last week. They came out flying and built up a 14-0 lead before the Pioneers slipped off their bedcovers.

Fortunately for them, once they snapped out of it, they rolled over the Reggies with five straight touchdowns, four of them TD passes from Matt Mortellite - one to Anthony Murphy (who had the fifth TD on an eight yard run), one to Nick Kinnon, and two to Louis Ellis.

The first one to Ellis was a circus catch that was a good a high school reception as you're going to see. But it probably wasn't the captain's best of the day. That came on the Pioneers' final scoring drive when Ellis leaped over the GL defender and snatched the ball away as he fell to the ground.

Many of you are too young to remember, but the catch reminded me of this great Lynn Swann catch in Super Bowl X in 1977.

Speaking of the junior quarterback, he had another stellar performance completing 16 of 22 passes for 218 yards. His NFL passer rating was 143.5. For reference, a perfect score is 158.3. For the season, Mortellite has a passer rating of 117.8.

Birthday delay
So I mentioned the delay in posting this was due to my grandson's first birthday party on Sunday. Here is a comparison shot of Jackson Condardo from Day 1 to Day 365. He's definitely growing into his Pioneer hat.

Jackson Condardo 1 day.

Jackson Condardo 1 year
That's it for now, check back next week for my preview of the big Thanksgiving Day game.

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