Published in the August 22, 2018 edition


LYNNFIELD — A leaf has yet to turn and neither an apple nor pumpkin has been picked. It may be difficult to accept, with the summer humidity continuing to linger, but believe it because the wait is over. It’s finally here.

Football is back.

With the return of football looming over the approaching horizon, an undeniable excitement can be felt in the air. The Pioneers hosted their first practice on Friday, Aug. 17, which was briefly disrupted by rain and thunder. Despite the Mother Nature-induced hiccup, first-year head coach Pat Lamusta salvaged the season-opening practice by sending his team inside to the gymnasium.

From inside, the Pioneers were able to cover defensive assignments in addition to running a few offensive versus defensive plays. Lamusta was not fazed by the weather and felt the indoor practice was still a successful one.

“Given the disruption of the weather with the thunder, we were still able to get a ton installed on defense and we also did a little portion of offense today too,” said Lamusta. “It wasn’t like we lost the day because of the thunder, we were still able to get things done.”

THE PIONEERS have their first, and hopefully last, indoor practice of the season. (James Cranney Photo)

Lynnfield will indeed need to get things done to overcome the early adversity the team faces. In addition to losing 21 starters from last season, this Pioneers squad will have to go on the road for all of their scrimmages as well as the first four games of the season. Additionally, Lamusta will be beginning his first year as the Pioneers’ head coach. He succeeded former head coach Neal Weidman.

Lamusta believes the uphill battle will drive his team.

“I think we as a coaching staff and the players are using it as motivation,” said Lamusta. “We have a ton of adversity early on with being away, all the more reason that we have to give it all we have this first preseason and go the extra mile.”

This motivated bunch will be kicking off scrimmage play next Saturday at 2 p.m. as the Pioneers look to set the tone against an always challenging Masconomet opponent. After the season’s first scrimmage, Lynnfield will continue its road journey heading to legendary Bertram Field to take on Salem on Tuesday, Aug. 28 at 4 p.m. Preseason play will close on Friday, Aug. 31 at 4:30 p.m., when the Pioneers clash with the defending Division 4 Super Bowl champion Melrose Red Raiders.

Lynnfield’s regular season will consist of the typical Cape Ann League foes. The first four games on the road will be at Newburyport (Friday, Sept. 7, 7 p.m.), Wayland (Sept. 14, 7 p.m.), Amesbury (Sept. 21, 7 p.m.) and Winthrop (Sept. 28, 7 p.m.).

First home game Oct. 5

The Pioneers will then have their long-awaited return home against Manchester-Essex on Friday, Oct. 5, beginning at 7 p.m. Lynnfield then hosts Ipswich on Friday, Oct. 12 at 7 p.m.

The penultimate game of the regular season will be back on the road against Hamilton-Wenham on Saturday, Oct. 20, beginning at 1 p.m.

While the playoff schedule has yet to be finalized, Lynnfield will be back at Pioneer Stadium to host arch nemesis North Reading on Thanksgiving morning, Nov. 22, beginning at 10 a.m.

While the Pioneers will have their fair share of adversity, just like any football team, Lamusta and his staff are ready to tackle the challenge.

“It’s a competitive group,” said Lamusta. “There’s really going to be a lot of competing for positions, so I feel like that competition will lead to the right guys being in the right place.”