Published in the August 20, 2015 edition

JEFF WALL is entering his 13th year as head coach of the Hornets. (Bob Turosz Photo)

JEFF WALL is entering his 13th year as head coach of the Hornets. (Bob Turosz Photo)


NORTH READING – The acorns are starting to fall in back yards across New England the back to school ads are everywhere. Not good signs if you’re a student dreading the start of another academic year but all good signs if you’re a football player. Another sign that football season is just around the corner is that the North Reading Hornets start football practices next Monday to prepare for another campaign in the always-competitive Cape Ann League.

When it comes to coaching, the CAL runs the gamut from head coaches with lengthy, career-defining tenures to a substantial number who will be making their coaching debut this September, according to Tom Condardo, the football writer for the Lynnfield Villager, the Transcript’s sister publication. In fact, over one-third of the CAL’s head coaches will be new this year.

North Reading’s head coach Jeff Wall is actually the CAL’s third-longest tenured coach, according to Condardo. Wall, who will be entering his 13th season coaching the Green and Gold, has been head coach since 2003.

That’s impressive, but not nearly as long as Pentucket’s Steve Hayden, who has been on the job since 1982 and will launch his 34th campaign in September. Hayden is the dean of CAL coaches and has a record of 197-152, (.564 winning percentage) and barring any disasters should hit the 200 career win mark this season.

Next in line in terms of longevity is Newburyport’s Ed Gaudiano, prowling the sidelines for 28 years with a record of 172-118, a .593 winning percentage. Gaudiano’s Clippers will have their job cut out for them in the 2015 campaign, however. Newburyport must play all their games prior to Thanksgiving on the road because of a delay in the opening of a new all purpose field at Newburyport High School.

As mentioned, North Reading’s Wall is next in line in terms of longevity. His overall record since 2003 is 56-70, with a .444 winning percentage but that’s deceiving because the team has been much more competitive over the last half dozen years than when Wall first took over.

After Wall, the coaching longevity chart drops off to Andrew Morency, about to begin his 10th season leading the Hamilton-Wenham Generals. Morency has a 54-39 record, (.581). Lynnfield High School Coach Neal Weidman is next, about to begin his eighth year. Weidman has the league’s highest winning percentage among active coaches at 56-17, .767.

In fifth place is Triton’s Pat Sheehan, beginning his sixth year with a 19-36 record and a .345 winning percentage, followed by Glen Gearin of Amesbury, who has one year of experience heading into 2015. Gearin’s record last year was 3-8, (.273).

And now for the newbies.

Of the 11 schools in the two-division Cape Ann League, four will start the season with new head coaches.

Kevin Fessette, a former assistant at Endicott College, will lead the Ipswich Tigers. Jeff Hutton will coach the “other” Hornets from Manchester-Essex. Hutton is a former assistant coach at Beverly. Gavin McGonagle is new (but not really) at Masconomet. He was an assistant to former coach Jim Pugh, who left after 26 seasons. Eric McCarthy will be the third head coach since 2012 at Georgetown, taking over from Justin Spurr, who left after a single season.