Published in the October 20, 2016 edition
By ANDREW MOUNTER
BYFIELD — Friday was a banner night for Triton Regional High School, as they dedicated their newly renovated $3.5 million Triton Memorial Field at Institution for Savings Stadium in front a packed crowd in Byfield last week but the North Reading football Hornets rudely crashed the celebration as they blew out their Vikings 41–13.
For Hornets head coach Jeff Wall, this game reminding him of when North Reading opened the new Arthur Kenney Field on Thanksgiving Day of 2009 and were blown out by archrivals Lynnfield, 35–14.
“That game still eats at me and I had to be reminded about that game tonight by my coaching staff, comparing the two games. But I’m proud how we played tonight,” said Wall. “We come in here, they’re undefeated, it’s the rededication of their field, and the fans are excited, they had everything going on their side coming in to this game and our kids stepped up and met the challenge. The coaching staff and I told them all week just do their jobs and they did. I couldn’t be more proud of those guys, they absolutely deserve it. They worked hard to get to where they are today.”
The two traded off red zone interceptions in the first quarter but the Hornets would be the ones to take advantage of the Viking turnover. On the very first play of the second quarter, senior captain Matt McCarthy went 54 yards for the first touchdown of the night. Senior captain Bobby O’Donnell kicked the extra point through the goal posts for a 7–0 North Reading lead.
The Green and Gold expanded their lead to 13–0, thanks to a punt return fumble by Triton that was marked down at their own 14. Then junior quarterback Kyle Bythrow took advantage of the great field position by taking the ball into the end zone but the extra point appeared to be blocked this time around.
The Vikings did cut the lead to 13–7 halfway in to the second quarter on a 41-yard interception by linebacker Liam Spillane. The extra point was true.
North Reading answered right back with three runs by McCarthy that added up to 64 yards. His third ramble was a 15 yard run in to the end zone. Bobby O’Donnell’s kick of the extra point was good, increasing the Hornet lead to 20–7.
Triton tried to drive before the first half expired but the half ended with two sacks of the Vikings quarterback, Lewis L’heureux, one by O’Donnell and the other shared by Michael Quaratiello and Jack DeAngelo.
The Green and Gold would receive the ball first in the second half and they took just six plays to reach the endzone. It was Bythrow again, this time from the Triton 12 yard line and another O’Donnell point after touchdown gave the Hornets a 20 point lead, at 27–7.
The Vikings would get their last score of their home opener, with a beautiful pass from L’heureux to Chris Trotta for a 35 yard strike but the extra point failed, so it was North Reading 27, Triton 13.
Bythrow would end the third quarter with style by completing a 48 yard run to glory but it appeared he would be short of the goal line as he was tackled by a Viking defender at the 10 yard line. But Bythrow ran right through it for his third touchdown of the night. The O’Donnell extra point went through the uprights giving the Green and Gold a 34–13 advantage.
“I wasn’t sure if that was McCarthy or Bythrow, then I saw it was Kyle. Not bad for a quarterback,” said Wall on the amazing play. “I couldn’t believe it. That play just sums up the heart of the team, he refused to go down, he showed courage, he showed character, and that’s all coming from having so much heart. That’s what these kids have and they’re opposing their will right now.”
The stout North Reading defense would grab two interceptions in the fourth quarter, one by Nick Dell Isola and the other by McCarthy, who showed off his running skills going 38 yards for his first defensive touchdown of the season and his third touchdown overall on the night. O’Donnell made the extra point again, closing the scoring out for the night at 41–14.
The North Reading offensive line dominated the Viking defensive line all night and thanks to that, the Hornets would rush for over 300 yards with McCarthy leading the pack with 204 yards rushed on 18 carries and Bythrow with 90 yards rushed on eight tries.
With the Hornet victory, both North Reading and Triton are now tied in the Cape Ann League Kinney division with 5–1 record and 2–1 record within the division but the Hornet now holds the tiebreaker for division with win last Friday night. The Green and Gold will host the 2–3 Newburyport Clippers tomorrow night at 7 p.m. If the Hornets win, they will win the division and play in the first round of the M.I.A.A. playoffs the next weekend. This should be interesting weekend of high school football around this area.