Sutera sets school record with 6 TD passes

Published March 17, 2021


LYNNFIELD – Well, it’s safe to say a lot can change in a year. The value of hand sanitizer and toilet paper became that of gold, everyone is now an expert in the exact distance of six feet and no one dares leave home without their phone, wallet, keys or mask. 

Perhaps the most notable change came this past fall when droving by Pioneer Stadium on Friday nights only to see bare bleachers and dim lights. COVID-19 forever changed the world and brought daily life to a screeching halt. After it was announced there would be no high school football during the fall of 2020, many wondered when they would see Lynnfield back on the gridiron. With the vaccination process thoroughly underway, the MIAA gave football a green light announcing an abbreviated seven-week March to April season.

Last Friday night, 470 days removed from their previous game, the Pioneers finally took the field against old foe Triton for the 2021 season opener. It was a late winter night but mild temperatures provided the feel of an early fall evening.

AUSTIN SUTERA threw for a school record six touchdown passes during Lynnfield’s 46-21 win over Triton on Friday night. The senior completed 21 of his 24 attempts for 359 yards and a perfect passer rating of 158.3. (Kristine Marengi Photo)

Other than that, nothing was normal.

The student section was empty as only parents were allowed to spectate, and players on the field would be seen with PPE masks beneath their helmets.

One of the other big questions entering 2021 was the Lynnfield offense. With the graduation of record setting quarterback Clayton Marengi, many wondered if the Pioneers would be able to light up the scoreboard like the year prior.

That would be answered immediately.  

On the second play from scrimmage, senior captain DJ Capachietti (5 carries, 85 yards, 1 touchdown) took a handoff behind pulling lineman Mekhi Peters and Nicolas Marcinowski and exploded up the left sideline; 70 yards later he was celebrating with his teammates in the end zone. Following a failed two-point try, Lynnfield would lead 6-0.

With Triton’s first possession on offense, the Vikings looked to attack Lynnfield on the ground. On the ninth play of the drive, Triton faced a 4th-and-2 just outside the red zone.  For the ninth consecutive time, the Vikings went with a run.  Senior quarterback Kyle Odoy called his own number but was quickly met by Capachietti and junior linebacker Spencer Riley.

BAKARI MITCHELL reeled in five catches for 112 yards and two touchdowns against Triton on Friday night at Pioneer Stadium. (Kristine Marengi Photo)

Following the 4th down stop, the Pioneer offense went back to work.  Facing 3rd-and-5 from their own 27-yard line, senior quarterback Austin Sutera (21-24, 359 yards, 6 touchdowns) scrambled to his right before finding a slanting Capachietti.  The senior running back shed two tacklers then darted up the middle before finally being brought down near midfield.  Five plays later, Lynnfield was knocking at the door on the Triton 10-yard line.

If you’ve ever watched ESPN’s NFL Countdown, you are familiar with the phrase “You Got Mossed!”  A portion of the show which highlights spectacular and acrobatic catches similar to the likes of Hall of Fame wideout Randy Moss.  The next time this segment is on, you might have to keep your eyes peeled for Bakari Mitchell.

On 2nd-and-goal, Sutera threw a high pass to the end zone just behind the sprinting Mitchell (5 catches, 112 yards, 2 touchdowns) who leaped into the air and snatched the ball with one hand as if he were Moss himself.

Trailing 12-0, the run-heavy Vikings offense began to mix in some passes. A massive 4th-and-11 conversion from the Pioneer 32-yard line set Triton up inside the 10 where they would return to the run. Two yards away on 4th-and-goal, Odoy faked the handoff to the right side then shot up the left making it 12-7.

With the ball at midfield, the Pioneers took a step backwards when senior receiver Blake Peters (5 catches, 70 yards, and 1 touchdown) caught a swing pass before losing his balance to net a 3-yard loss. Peters would only need one snap to redeem himself. On 3rd-and-4, Sutera found Peters over the middle where he made one defender miss then burst up the right sideline for a 53-yard score. Sutera looked Peters’ way again on the two-point conversion to extend Lynnfield’s 2nd quarter lead to 20-7.

Triton responded with a methodical six minute and 19 second drive but once again, the Pioneers defense would not break. With under a minute left in the first half, the Vikings faced a 4th-and-7 from Lynnfield’s 15-yard line. Heavy pressure up front forced Odoy to scramble right but the quarterback was immediately thrown to the turf by Spencer Riley and senior captain Trent Balian.

With 45 seconds remaining and 85 yards to go, many expected Lynnfield to kneel it and take their two-score lead to the locker room. The Pioneer offense had different intentions. Lynnfield moved the ball to their own 34 yard-line and with 23 seconds left, took their shot.

After already possessing the school record for all-time receptions and touchdowns, senior captain Jack Ford (6 catches, 117 yards, and 3 touchdowns) continued to shine. Sutera rolled to his left and threw a high arching bomb 45 yards down the sideline to a streaking Ford. The ball was placed just in front of the receiver who bobbled it twice then fell to the ground with it secured.

Following the second “You Got Mossed!” moment of the game, the Pioneers had possession at the Triton 12 with only six seconds remaining. When Sutera dropped back there was only one receiver he had his eyes on. Throwing the ball to the left corner of the end zone, Ford boxed his man out and hauled in Lynnfield’s fourth touchdown of the game as time expired.

“It’s almost like calling him ‘old reliable,’” commented 3rd year coach Pat Lamusta on Jack Ford’s performance. “If you just put the ball in his area, he’s going to go up and get it.”

Following two special teams mishaps, the Pioneers 26-7 lead quickly became 26-21. In a situation where lesser teams would succumb to the relinquished momentum, Lynnfield never flinched.

On the second play of the 4th quarter, the Pioneers turned to “old reliable.” At the Vikings’ 32 yard line, Sutera hit Jack Ford on a screen pass where Ford cut right, left, then right, and then back to his left. After making almost every Triton defender on the field miss, Ford would gallop up the sideline and into the end zone.

From there, the Lynnfield defense shut the door and the high powered offense continued their brilliance. In the end, the Pioneers would open the season with a 46-21 victory.

In addition to having a perfect passer rating of 158.3, Sutera broke the single game school record for passing yards (359) and touchdowns (six) in his very first start under center.

When the clock expired, it was all smiles on the Lynnfield sideline. With all the questions and speculation surrounding this unconventional season, just getting to this point was an accomplishment on its own. Having a firsthand look at what this tumultuous year has been like for the players, perhaps no one was happier than coach Lamusta.

“Our guys have been on an emotional roller coaster,” claimed Lamusta. “I’m relieved and very happy for our seniors. We’re going to make the most of this season. We’re just going to have fun, win games and send these seniors out with a bang.”