THE PIONEER defensive line, including the pictured junior Walter Radulski (72) and senior captain Anthony Morales (54) line up for a play against Hudson in the Div. 6 state quarterfinals. Lynnfield, now 8-2 overall, will get ready to take on rival North Reading (5-4) on Thanksgiving at Pioneer Stadium. (Courtesy Photo)
HUDSON – “Our team has the bounce back ability and showed it all year long,” commented Lynnfield head coach Pat Lamusta on his team’s resiliency.
On a night when things just seemed to go against them, the 8-1 Pioneers fought until the bitter end in a 27-13 quarterfinal road loss against 7-2 Hudson.
Averaging 48 points in their previous three games, the high soaring Hawks offense came into Friday’s playoff matchup with a great deal of confidence. Led by dual-threat junior quarterback Jake Attaway, Hudson received the opening kickoff and quickly marched into Pioneer territory.
The Hawks converted on two third downs and one 4th down with an 8-yard designed Attaway run. However, on 4th and goal from the Lynnfield 5-yard line, the Pioneers made their first stand.
Attaway rolled to his right and hit junior receiver Garrett Giorgio between the numbers at the 1-inch line. That is where senior defensive back Niccolo Antidormi wrapped up the junior and would not allow that inch as he threw the receiver to the ground.
Lynnfield gave themselves a smidgen of breathing room to punt the ball back, but the Hawks would come soaring back. On just their second play, Attaway stepped up in the pocket and delivered a 39-yard touchdown strike to a wide open Nolan Yates. Following a missed extra point, the Pioneers found themselves trailing 6-0.
On Hudson’s next possession early in the 2nd quarter, the Hawks picked up where they left off. A 42-yard scramble from Attaway brought the ball into the redzone and pn 3rd and 6, Attaway tucked the ball and ran it in from 10-yards out to make it 13-0.
Unable to establish the run, Lynnfield started advancing the ball with quick screen passes. With each continuous screen, Hudson’s defensive backs began to creep up with anticipation. On 1st and 10 from their own 27-yard line, the Pioneers perfectly baited the defense on a fake screen before junior quarterback Tyler Adamo (12-18, 287 yards, 2 touchdown passes) heaved a deep ball down the field to a wide open Madux Iovinelli (7 catches, 121 yards).
With daylight in front of him, the junior galloped down the sideline before getting tripped up 16-yards short of the endzone. The receiver miraculously stayed on his feet and looked like he would score. That was until Hudson senior Garrett Giorgio punched the ball free and junior Ben Jackson recovered it in the endzone thwarting Lynnfield’s momentum.
Down 13-0 at halftime, many teams would have packed it in accepting it was not their night. This Pioneer team though, didn’t go down without a fight.
On the very first play of the second half, Adamo pumped left then uncorked a deep shot to senior captain Joey Cucciniello (2 catches, 63 yards, 1 touchdown). Cucciniello caught it in stride and ran 53-yards making it a 13-7 game.
The Hawks offense would respond once again with their quarterback. On a designed run, Attaway shot up the right sideline for a 76-yard score extending Hudson’s lead 20-7.
“He [Attaway] is one of the more impressive players we have seen this year,” stated coach Lamusta. “The quarterback was very dynamic, so it was a challenge containing him in the pocket and setting the edge on their designed quarterback runs.”
Lynnfield abandoned the run in the second half and attempted a pass on every remaining snap. They got another quick strike late in the 3rd quarter. Adamo found sophomore receiver Zahir Mitchell (1 catch, 95 yards, 1 touchdown) over the middle who dashed 95-yards to the goal line untouched. Despite the road team making it a one score 20-13 game, Hudson was just too much.
The Pioneer defense was able to stuff the Hawks on a 4th and goal run attempt, but would inevitably break on the next series. Averaging over 5 yards per carry, Hudson drove 65-yards in 12 plays before icing the game with a 1-yard Rocco Auger touchdown run.
Although they fought hard, for the second year in a row, Lynnfield’s state title aspirations ended in the quarterfinals.
“Coach Attaway is doing a great job with the Hudson team,” said coach Lamusta after the loss. “It was the type of game where we needed the good breaks to go in our favor and it did not pan out that way.”
While the Hawks showed they were the better team Friday night, coach Lamusta still wanted to recognize the resiliency his players displayed.
“Seeing senior captains like Joey Cucciniello and Alex Baldini battle over the course of the game in the midst of injury was inspiring. Joey, Alex, Quinn [Hardisty] and Anthony [Morales] set the bar high for future captains in terms of commitment level all year long, demonstrating what it looks like to play and fight through adversity.”
Despite the difficult ending, coach Lamusta knows there is one game still remaining on the 2023 schedule.
In two weeks, as is tradition, Lynnfield will play on Thanksgiving morning on their home turf against 5-4 North Reading.
“We are excited to have one more opportunity to be out on the field with our seniors vs. North Reading on Thanksgiving
and compete to win.”