The big question at Dr. Deering Stadium Friday night where Danvers hosts Salem will not be what the Falcons do for the first 22 minutes of the game, but whether or not they show up for the final 22.
For the second straight week a fairly solid first half went by the boards for the Falcons last Friday as Marblehead scored 27 unanswered points in the second half to roll to a 48-6 win.
The loss was the fourth straight for Danvers and dropped the Falcons to 0-3 in the conference and 3-5 overall. The good news is that after a brutal four-game stretch that featured conference powers Beverly, Swampscott, Marblehead, along with a very formidable Triton squad, Sean Rogers’ club will square off against a young Salem squad, which has stumbled to a 1-8 mark thus far.
That being said, Salem does have some weapons that could make it a long night for the Falcons. Quarterback Christian Dunston has shown flashes this season both with his feet and with his arm. If he can get to the open field the shifty junior can be a handful and when he does stay in the pocket he has hooked up with receiver Ben Kapnis for three scores this year.
Friday will be Senior Night for the Falcons and senior captain Nick Valles, who was one of the few bright spots last week with 63 yards rushing, will look to make his final home game a memorable one. Sophomore QB Ryan Chasse also showed flashes of things to come last week and connected with Jake Cawlina on a 16-yard strike in the second quarter for the lone Danvers score.
Salem at Danvers, Friday, 7 p.m.
The Pick: Danvers, 28-27; Falcons’ seniors lead the way in final home game.
If the Peabody Tanners are looking for a secret weapon to help them finally put an end to a five-game losing skid Friday night in Lynn they might have to look no further than down to their cleats, which for a change will be visible and not submerged in a layer of mud.
The pristine field turf of the new Manning Field will indeed be a sight for sore eyes for the Tanners, especially their explosive backfield of Nat Gaye, Jason Hiou and D.J. Henrick. Last Friday, the trio was left spinning their wheels in the quaking bog otherwise known as Coley Lee Field in a 35-10 loss to North Andover.
Peabody managed just 16 yards on the ground in the first half and just 73 yards in total.
“We love our field here, but it’s tough to get to the outside and run against a quick and aggressive defense like that when you are running through six inches of mud,” Peabody coach Scott Wlasuk noted of the field, which drains very poorly due to a large sheet of ledge that lies less than 20 inches below the surface.
Somehow, Gaye still managed 78 yards on the ground last week to eclipse the 1,000-yard plateau for the second straight year and the lightning quick tailback will undoubtedly be a huge part of the offensive game plan Friday against a young, but improving Lynn Classical squad.
After stumbling out of the gates to a 1-2 start, the Rams have righted the ship and gone 3-2 since with solid wins over Salem (41-15), Gloucester (28-14) and they handled Revere, 28-5, last week. In that five-game span, the Rams, much like the Tanners, also simply had no answers for either North Andover (a 42-6 loss) or Masconomet (a 40-6 loss).
Shifty sophomore back Brad Scuzarella is the guy the Tanners must contain. Last week in the win over the Pats, Scuzarella caught three passes for 133 yards, including a 72-yard TD strike from QB John Finnegan that put the game away. He also had two long punt returns to set up another pair of scores. Finnegan also rushed for a pair of scores for the Rams in the win.
Peabody at Lynn Classical, Friday, 7 p.m.
The Pick: Peabody, 31-28. If Peabody kicker Sean Wlasuk can nail a 30-yarder as he did last week in the muck in Peabody, he can split the uprights on the turf in Lynn from 40 yards out for the game-winner Friday.
Lyons taking it to another level
Suffice it to say, Hamilton-Wenham football coach Andrew Morency is quickly running out of adjectives when it comes to describing the play of his quarterback Trevor Lyons.
The junior terrorized yet another fairly proficient defense last week as Hamilton-Wenham rolled to a 28-12 win over North Reading. Running behind the Generals’ great veteran line, Lyons rushed for 261 yards in all, including scoring jaunts of 1, 76, 61 and 11 yards.
“He had quite a day and he’s someone who seems to be getting better and better the more comfortable he gets at the quarterback position,” said Morency. “The thing about Trevor is that he is such a student of the game and such a competitor that he is truly trying to take it to the next level each and every week.”
The win lifts the Generals to 3-0 in the league and 8-0 overall heading into Saturday’s tilt against 1-7 Georgetown. After winning their first game against West Bridgewater (25-14), it’s safe to say the season has gone south in a hurry for a young Royals squad. Georgetown has lost its last seven, including a 35-7 rout by Lynnfield last week. Tyler Wade (33 points) is the Royals leading scorer and also a proficient field goal kicker.
“They are a little young and they have been going through some rough times, but each week in this league you never know what is going to happen,” Morency cautioned.
On paper it indeed looks like a pretty big mismatch and with the Thanksgiving showdown with Ipswich just around the corner, Morency is hoping that his team does not get caught looking ahead.
“In football trap games happen and every level and you always have that concern as a coach, but this group seems to be special and they get it. I think at this point with the way the season has gone we certainly want to finish it off right,” he said.
Georgetown at H-W, Saturday, 1 p.m.
The Pick: H-W, 35-0; Trap game? Hardly. Generals’ seniors shine in final home game.
Big Blue not taking 1-8 Gloucester lightly
After watching his team shut out one of the most prolific offenses in the region in the second half of its gigantic 21-13 win over Beverly at Hurd Stadium last Saturday, you might have been expecting Swampscott coach Steve Dembowski to be effusive in his praise of his widely underrated defense.
“We started pretty poorly giving up an 82-yard drive that we made a lot of mistakes on. Then, we gave up a touchdown pass that we had worked on in practice which we were not even close on,” said Dembowski, candidly before throwing a few plaudits in the direction of his rock-solid defensive unit.
“To the kids’ credit they never stopped playing hard and we did do a good job of taking away their perimeter run in the second half. I don’t think we played our best game by any means and made a lot of mental mistakes, but overall to come out of there with a win and hold a team like that to just 13 points was really good for us,” he said.
Linebackers Zach Kalapinski (12 tackles, three for losses) and Aiden Lang, led the inspired defensive effort along with Frank Legere, who came up with a huge interception for the Big Blue (3-0, 8-1).
The win could make the annual Thanksgiving showdown with Marblehead (3-0, 6-2) a title tilt, but for that to happen Swampscott must get by one of the scariest 1-8 teams you are going to find when Gloucester invades Blocksidge Field this Saturday.
After graduating 19 starters from last year’s undefeated Super Bowl team, the Fishermen are finally finding their footing and posted their first win of the year last week, 35-0, over Salem. The record is indeed deceiving when you figure that Gloucester squandered a two-touchdown lead against the Panthers, lost a tight one to Tier 1 power Masconomet, and gave No. 15 Andover a very good game early in the season.
“They certainly look like they are healthy and they are executing very well,” said Dembowski, who was on hand at the Salem game. “They played with a lot of heart and passion last weekend and really blew Salem out of the water.
“This is a team that these seniors have never beaten and if we want to control our own destiny we have to win this game. It will also be the seniors’ last home game so there are a lot of reasons to work hard this week.”
You have to go back to Swampscott’s magical 2008 Super Bowl season when Chris Cameron brought the Big Blue back from an early 14-0 deficit to win 21-20 at Newell Stadium to find the last time Swampscott upended this NEC giant. That win represented just one of two hiccups in a 52-game span at home for the vaunted Fishermen. Last year Swampscott fell, 41-24, at home in their opener to the Fishermen.
Backs Kyle Lucido (3) and Santo Parisi (2) combined for all five scores on the ground last week against Salem for Gloucester (1-2, 1-8).
Gloucester at Swampscott, Saturday, 1 p.m.
The Pick: Swampscott, 38-21; Big Blue reel in Fishermen, set up huge Thanksgiving showdown with Magicians.