It’s safe to say that Andrew Morency’s undefeated Hamilton-Wenham Generals should have a pretty good idea of what to expect when Hamilton-Wenham (1-4) Saturday at 2 p.m. Morency and his staff scouted not only the Crusaders’ 30-13 win over the Georgetown two weeks ago, but used last week’s bye week to , 43-26. Now, it’s just a matter of figuring out which Crusader squad will show up in Hamilton on Saturday.
Will it be the one which ran wild behind aptly named freshman Rufus Rushins against Georgetown, or the squad that surrendered 43 unanswered points to the Hornets last week? Morency, for one, is betting on the former.
“I don’t think last week was a true indication of what kind of team they are,” said Morency. “I think it was just a matter of a young team going though some growing pains. We are very aware of their capabilities and we feel that they are a team that could find it any week and we just hope it won’t be our week.”
That was just the case last year when , 25-7, by a previously winless Crusaders squad.
“It’s kind of like déjà vu in that leading into our games the last two years they had had not a lot of success, but when they played us they put it all together and really kind of took it to us,” said Morency of the Crusaders, who have won the last two meetings with the Generals.
“Part of this week’s preparation has been not to forget completely what happened last year.”
Morency said the bye week not only allowed his team to rest up and get healthy for conference play, but also tighten up some things that he was not too happy with in the .
“Although we moved the ball well against Amesbury, we made some uncharacteristic mistakes, so we were able to focus on that a bit. Our defense has been spectacular, but we also felt that Amesbury was not our best performance, so we cleaned up some things on that side of the ball as well.”
Bishop Fenwick at Hamilton-Wenham, Saturday 2 p.m.
The pick: H-W, 22-0: No déjà vu this time for unbeaten Generals.
Triton poses huge test for surging Falcons
It’s safe to say that Danvers got the old running game going in last week’s . Nick Valles (196 yards), Alex Valles (87 yards) and Jake Palazola (147 yards) all ran for a country mile as Danvers (3-2) moved over the .500 mark. Now imagine what kind of numbers the Falcons could have put up if they weren’t whistled 12 times for a series of infractions that wiped off an additional 12 points off the board?
“We were fortunate to be able to overcome those mental mistakes,” said Danvers coach Sean Rogers. “It was one of those helter-skelter games where kids can get too emotionally high or too emotionally low depending on the situation, but I thought our kids did a great job of keeping an even keel.”
Keeping an even keel against a potent Triton offense led by dynamic quarterback Blaise Whitman will be the next task for Danvers when the 3-2 Vikings invade Dr. Deering Field Friday night.
“Blaise Whitman is a phenomenal athlete. I know he’s a great pitcher and he’s a terrific quarterback,” Rogers lauded of the Vikings’ signal caller who connected on 23 of 33 passes for 184 yards and one touchdown in a .
“If you don’t put pressure on him he can sit back there and pick a team apart.”
Whitman is just one problem that the Danvers defense will have to contend with Friday. The other is rugged tailback Derek Paquette who finished with 115 yards rushing on 21 carries, including two touchdowns, last week against the Big Blue.
“They’re not the typical spread team in that they are not only fast, but very physical as well,” noted Rogers. “You don’t often see that combination. Paquette is a hard-nosed, downhill runner much like (Pentucket’s) Nolan Dragon. If we don’t tackle well he is just going to run through us.”
Triton at Danvers, Friday 7 p.m.
The pick: Triton, 35-28: Falcons continue to improve, but Triton has too much firepower.
'Second Season' Starts Friday in Revere for Peabody
Those Tanner fans still stinging from to Beverly should take some solace in two key points. First of all, at 3-1, Peabody is still off to its best start since 2004. Secondly, the crucial part of the season starts Friday night at Revere’s Harry Della Russo Stadium when the Tanners open up league play against the Patriots.
“OK, that does makes me feel a little better,” said a solemn Peabody coach Scott Wlasuk when reminded of those two key points last Friday. “Hopefully, we will be able to come up with a better performance than we had today.”
That will be indeed necessary as Revere is off to a 4-1 start and like Wlasuk’s Tanners, Lou Cicatelli’s club has its own designs on the NEC/CAL Tier 1 title and the automatic playoff bid that comes with it. On defense, Revere has posted two shutouts (Medford, 21-0; Salem, 14-0), and is coming off a 42-33 win over Cambridge last week.
Like Peabody, Revere installed its own version of the Pistol offense this season and has shown plenty of firepower both on the ground and through the air. Against Cambridge, senior tailback Drew Lauria, the leading scorer in Division 1A, was the story as he found the end zone five times and rushed for 190 yards on 24 carries. The Patriots can also air it out and have a good one in quarterback Joe Ritchie, who connected with Lauria on a 70-yard scoring strike last week. Revere halfback Tom Portrait also topped the 100-yard rushing mark last week.
It is worth noting, however, that winless Cambridge led the Pats, 20-14, at the half and were right there, down 28-27, heading into the final quarter. Revere’s .
Peabody suffered a huge blow in the Beverly game with the loss of starting halfback and cornerback Brady Doyle to an ankle injury. Senior Casey Grenier filled in at both slots and is expected to do the same against Revere.
A key for Peabody will be dialing up its patented ground game behind explosive tailback Nat Gaye and keeping Lauria and the Patriots’ offense off the field. Last year Gaye rushed for 168 yards and two scores as the Tanners rolled over Revere, 33-8.
Complicating matters even more for the Tanners are reports that Peabody could be missing some key players for this one due to an incident last weekend.
Peabody at Revere, Friday 7 p.m.
The pick: Peabody, 24-21: If they are at full strength -- a big if -- look for the Tanners to rebound with their biggest win of the year.
Witches hoping to ace this English test
After watching one Lynn team erupt for 26 unanswered points last week in a 41-15 loss to Lynn Classical, things will get no easier for Salem Friday night when the Witches host an even more explosive Lynn squad when the Bulldogs of Lynn English invade Bertram Field.
You may want to chalk up last week’s loss to simply growing pains for coach Scott Connolly’s young, but promising club. With a slew of underclassmen, including six sophomores, starting on both side of the ball, Salem simply could never stop this Ram-sized snowball that kept up picking up momentum in the second half.
English comes into the game at 3-2 after topping Malden, 10-0, last week, but the record is a bit deceiving in that the two losses came to local heavyweights Beverly (36-35) and .
As always seems to be the case, English is once again blessed with a dynamic two-way threat at QB in Jermaine Kelly, who has capably filled the giant shoes of Tyllor McDonald. With a fleet of speedy skilled players behind him, tackling in space Friday will be of the utmost concern for the Witches (1-4).
Salem is not lacking for speedy skill players either and Shakir White ranks high on that list. The sophomore returned a kickoff 75 yards last week for the Witches first score. Linebacker Joshua McRae’s pick would set up the game-tying score in the second quarter before the flood gates opened in the final 22 minutes.
Last year the Witches jumped out to a quick 6-0 lead on the Bulldogs on quarterback Brad Skeffington’s 20-yard strike to Antonio Reyes, but it was all English after that as the Bulldogs scored the next 30 points on their way to a 30-6 win in Lynn.
Lynn English at Salem, Friday 7 p.m.
The pick: English, 28-21: Look for a nice bounce back performance by Witches against a very good English squad.
Blitz the Big Blue? Malden likely to try it Friday
Once again and then some last Thursday night in the first night game at Blocksidge Field. Luckily, quarterback Mike Walsh (17-for-23, 218 yards, 3 TDs) and his favorite target, wideout A.J. Baker (7 catches, 92 yards, 2 TDs), led a furious rally over the final 15 minutes to keep the team perfect at 5-0.
“We were down by 11 late in the third quarter, but from that point on we really elevated our game,” said Swampscott coach Steve Dembowski. “They certainly gave us a run for our money.”
A large crowd was on hand to watch the exciting contest, which was illuminated by temporary lights.
“It was a good atmosphere and it was exciting,” said the coach. “There were a lot of good things about it and hopefully at some point the town will get (permanent) lights.”
Before jumping into conference play next week, Swampscott will look to close out its non-league slate at a perfect 6-0 Friday night at Malden when they take on a surprising Golden Tornados (2-3) squad. After topping both Classical (21-0) and Bedford (33-13) for its first two wins of the year, Malden lost a tight one last week to English, 10-0.
“They played English very well and could have easily won the game,” said Dembowski. “They are athletic and have a great middle linebacker. They’re a blitzing, pressure defense that will play man coverage and send six guys after the quarterback. We don’t see a lot of blitzes the way we do things, but I doubt that they are going to change for us. We are going to have to pick up the blitz and turn that into opportunities for us.
“One of our goals each year is to improve on our non-conference record,” the coach added. “Last year we went 5-1 and this year we have the chance to go 6-0.”
Swampscott opens up league play next Friday at Salem.
Swampscott at Malden, Friday 7 p.m.
The pick: Swampscott, 21-7: Big Blue picks up the blitz, improves to 6-0.