Published in the October 10, 2018 edition
By DAN TOMASELLO
LYNNFIELD — Patience is a virtue.
The football team (1-4) earned its first win of the 2018 season as the Pioneers shellacked an undermanned Manchester-Essex squad 36-6 during the home opener at Pioneer Stadium on Oct. 5.
“This was a massive game for us,” said Pioneers head coach Pat Lamusta. “It’s great to be back home. We wanted to protect this field. We are moving in the right direction.”
Lynnfield took control of the contest on the opening play, when the Hornets fumbled the ball and the Pioneers were able to recover it at the 50-yard line. The Hornets, however, responded by forcing the Pioneers to punt after a three-and-out. Lynnfield junior Khad Connell was able to recover the ball moments later after Manchester-Essex had its second fumble in the opening minutes of the first quarter.
Junior quarterback Clayton Marengi got the Pioneers on the board after scoring on a fourth-and-4 with seven minutes remaining in the first quarter. Sophomore Blake Peters converted the two-point conversion, giving Lynnfield an early 8-0 lead.
Senior captain Jared Simpson scored the Pioneers’ second touchdown on a second-and-goal with 6:12 remaining in the second quarter. Peters converted the extra point, giving Lynnfield a decisive 15-0 lead.
“It was an excellent drive,” said Lamusta.
Manchester-Essex sophomore running back Gavin Glass scored a 25-yard touchdown with 3:03 remaining in the second quarter. The Hornets were unable to convert the two-point conversion and trailed the Pioneers 15-6.
Marengi threw a touchdown pass to sophomore wide receiver Jack Ford with 1.9 seconds remaining in the second quarter. Peters converted the extra point and Lynnfield took a 22-6 lead at the break.
Junior wide receiver John Lee had a 42-yard punt return late in the third quarter, which paved the way for Simpson scoring his second touchdown with 2:23 remaining in the third. Peters connected on the extra point, giving Lynnfield a 29-6 lead after three.
Junior running back Anthony Floramo had an interception in the opening minute of the fourth quarter. Lee came up with a 40-yard punt return late in the fourth quarter, which allowed sophomore backup quarterback Brett Cohee to score Lynnfield’s last touchdown after completing a 30-yard run with 6:18 remaining in the game.
Lamusta was thrilled the Pioneers were able to come up with its first victory of the 2018 season during the home opener. The victory over the Hornets marked Lamusta’s first career win as the gridmen’s head coach.
“It’s a relief,” said Lamusta. “We needed it. The kids really needed it and I am just happy for them. I feel like we can keep this surge of momentum rolling. The team has a lot of potential, but there is still so much to work on.”
Lamusta commended the Pioneers’ offensive line, particularly senior captain Hunter Allain, junior Liam Farrell, junior Mike Julian, senior captain Cole Moretti and junior Justin Ndansi.
“The offensive line was awesome,” said Lamusta. “They stayed on their blocks and kept their feet moving.”
Lamusta said quarterbacks Marengi and Cohee played very well for the Pioneers.
“The play calling and coaching was on point,” said Lamusta.
Lamusta commended Simpson and Floramo’s strong play as well.
“The vision was much better for Jared and Anthony,” said Lamusta. “They were able to execute and make big plays when we needed them.”
Lamusta praised the Pioneers’ defense for stepping up, as the defense forced the Hornets to commit five fumbles. Lynnfield recovered three of the fumbles.
“The defense was awesome at executing the game plan,” said Lamusta. “They played physical.”
Lamusta tipped his hat to the Hornets (0-3), who only had 20 players.
“They gave us a battle,” said Lamusta.
Lynnfield will now shift its focus to Ipswich, as the Pioneers welcome the 4-1 Tigers to Pioneer Stadium on Friday, Oct. 12, beginning at 7 p.m. If the Pioneers can de-claw the Tigers at home, Lamusta said it will help Lynnfield’s late season playoff push.
“It keeps us in the conversation, but now we are just thinking about Ipswich,” said Lamusta. “If we win that game, with the points system, we can really put ourselves in a good position. We are not even thinking about the playoffs. We are just thinking about Ipswich because it’s a league game. It was a physical game last year. The kids are excited about it.”