Published in the July 27, 2016 edition


PEABODY — The football season is just about a month away, but the Lynnfield Pioneers got a head start with an impressive performance in the Under Armour Northeast 7v7 Tournament held last Saturday at a sweltering Bishop Fenwick High School.

With temperatures soaring into the low 90s, there were 40 teams battling for the East Division title and a right to move on to the UA New England Championship.

The Pioneers finished with a 3-1 record in pool play, earning them a trip to the playoffs. An impressive 19-0 win over Pingree propelled them into the Elite Eight where their title hopes were dashed in a 15-7 loss to Milton.

“I thought we competed well and made it pretty deep into the tournament, which was good,” said Pioneer head coach Neal Weidman. “I was happy with how well we performed on both sides of the ball.”

The Pioneers started with exciting overtime wins over Billerica and Malden, both by 8-6 scores. The defensive effort was particularly encouraging considering the Pioneers graduated their entire defensive backfield and are starting with all new pass defenders.

Captain Kyle Hawes led the way for a defense that included solid play from Cooper Marengi, Nick Kinnon, Jared Lemieux, Jason Ndansi, Zack Huynh and Tyler Murphy. Kinnon tossed TD passes in both wins, one to Ndansi and the other to Hawes.

Watertown outlasted the Pioneers 20-12 for Lynnfield’s only loss in pool play. Captain Louis Ellis caught both TD passes from Kinnon. Hawes also picked off an interception in the game.

The Pioneers bounced back with a big 19-6 win over Gloucester. Kinnon hit Alex Boustris with a TD pass to put Lynnfield on the board, but Gloucester closed the gap to 7-6. Kinnon connected with Hawes while Jack Razzaboni drilled one to Andrew DePalma to pull away and earn the Pioneers a ticket to the playoff round.

“It was encouraging to see some of the juniors step up and make some big plays against teams like Billerica and Gloucester,” added Lynnfield assistant coach Pat Lamusta. “Alex Boustris, Kyle Hawes and Louis Ellis showed they will all be threats as receivers with Nick Kinnon being able to spread the ball to them.”

Explode in playoffs

Lynnfield exploded in the first round of the playoffs, beating Pingree 19-6. Kinnon had a pair of TD passes – one to Marengi and the other to Peter Look – while Razzaboni added a third with a scoring toss to Ellis.

“Our scoring was pretty spread out,” Weidman said. “Louis Ellis, Kyle Hawes and Alex Boustris caught a bunch of passes. Jay Ndansi, Peter Look, Andy Depalma, Alex Gildea, Nathan Drislane and Cooper Marengi all contributed.

“We had some guys who haven’t had a lot of varsity experience step up and do some things which is what we were looking for,” Weidman summed up. “We need to see who can help out and make some plays. It was good day.”

Tourney has local roots

The tournament, started years ago by Lynnfield and Swampscott and played for several years at Lynnfield High, is a passing only/touch tournament. The event has grown exponentially and now consists of three separate tournaments with finalists from each region moving on to a New England championship final.

The Pioneers begin their preseason with their first official practice on Friday, August 19.