Published in the September 17, 2015 edition

HORNET MATT MCCARTHY (center), fights his way through the Ipswich Tiger defense prior to breaking free to score North Reading's first touchdown of the season on the team's first possession of the game. (Bob Turosz Photo)

HORNET MATT MCCARTHY (center), fights his way through the Ipswich Tiger defense prior to breaking free to score North Reading’s first touchdown of the season on the team’s first possession of the game. (Bob Turosz Photo)


IPSWICH — The 2015 edition of the North Reading football Hornets started their new season on the right note as they dominated the Ipswich Tigers last Friday night, 27–15, in Ipswich. The North Reading offense collected over 300 yards on the ground despite the wet grounds thanks to rain earlier in the day, including a game leading 236 yards from junior running back Matt McCarthy.

As reported in last week’s season preview, it was stated that the offense would be back in the single-wing offense, which has given the Green and Gold great success in the last several years. But for the season premiere the Hornets went with a slightly different offensive formation, going instead with one of the most common formations in football, the I formation.

“(Last week’s) report was great, because Ipswich thought it was single–wing,” said veteran North Reading head coach Jeff Wall. “It was a little gamesmanship. They have been running a spread offense all camp and tonight they came out running the triple option. That was one of the things I told the team yesterday, we have to be ready for everything. You never know with a team that is searching for an identity, so we had to be ready for everything.”

North Reading scored the first touchdown on their very first possession of season, thanks to very good field position, starting at the Ipswich 43 yard line and needed only four plays to get into the end zone thanks to a 16 yard run by McCarthy. The extra point attempt by Bobby O’Donnell went wide but the Hornets had an early 6-0 lead.

The second North Reading touchdown would come early in the second quarter and would also be the second touchdown of the game for McCarthy, this time going 35 yards and this time O’Donnell hit the extra point to give the Green and Gold the 13–0 lead over the Tigers.

Before the second half was completed, McCarthy would grab the hat trick of touchdowns with his biggest run of the night, 66 yards, plus the added O’Donnell extra point that gave the Hornets a commanding 20–0 lead in Ipswich’s backyard.

The second half started much the way the first half went for North Reading. The Hornets won the coin toss at he start of the game but opted to kick off to Ipswich.  That means they got the ball to start the second half and David Smith took the opening kickoff 77 yards for his first touchdown of the season. O’Donnell again added the point after touchdown. The Green and Gold had a 27–0 run to start the 2015 campaign.

It wasn’t only the offense that did its job but so did the Hornet defense. The D gave up only 92 yards on the ground from five combined Tiger runners and 162 yards of total offense for the whole game. McCarthy,  Nic O’Connell and Bobby O’Donnell, Nick Copelas, John Merullo, and Drew Delano were all over the place for their team and did not give the Tigers a chance to do anything on the offense side. O’Connell led the team with 14 tackles.

“This one of the most aggressive defenses we’ve had in North Reading,” said coach Wall. “We’ve had some good defenses but these kids really fly to the ball. They just attack. I’m proud of the way the D played.”

The Tigers made the game seem closer than it really was by putting up 15 points late in the game, while North Reading was resting most of its starters. The Tigers scored on a fumble recovery by Jake Long  and again on the only pass completion of the whole game between both teams, on a 70 yard bomb from Shane Grady to Alex Morris. The Tigers then added a two-conversion to make it 27–15, but the Hornets restored order, caging the Tigers the rest of the way and running out the clock before a disappointed Ipswich crowd.

North Reading is 1–0 on the young season and will have its home opener on Friday night as they will host the always tough Hamilton–Wenham Generals. After years of not beating the Generals, the Hornets have won the last two games, but throw that out window, says Coach Wall. “We’ve had some changes along the way. They are very well coached, they’re disciplined, and they are talented. We have our work cut out for us. We have to play better.”

Kickoff is at 7 p.m. at the Arthur Kenney Field.