Staunch defense shines brightly against Division 2 Chieftans

Published in the August 30, 2017 edition

JUNIOR Brett Cohee scampers for a big gain against the Chieftains. Cohee led the Pioneers in rushing with 89 yards and a touchdown. Junior Leo Quinn looks on. (Kerrianne Allain Photo)

JUNIOR Brett Cohee scampers for a big gain against the Chieftains. Cohee led the Pioneers in rushing with 89 yards and a touchdown. Junior Leo Quinn looks on. (Kerrianne Allain Photo)


LYNNFIELD — In last year’s traditional opening scrimmage against Masconomet, the Pioneers and Chieftains combined for 13 touchdowns in 80 plays. This past Saturday was dramatically different when the two teams hooked up for the first real action of the season. Defense ruled the day as each team was only able to punch in a single touchdown. The difference was a successful extra point by Pioneer co-captain Cooper Marengi following a 13-yard TD run by junior quarterback Brett Cohee as the home team edged Masco 7-6.

“We played pretty well,” said head coach Neal Weidman. “It was a pretty physical scrimmage which was great for both sides. Compared to last year I thought the tackling on both sides was much better.” 

The controlled scrimmage consisted of each team alternating four sets of 10 plays each starting at the opponent’s 40-yard line. The Pioneers held Masco, the sixth rated team in Division 2 – three divisions higher than Lynnfield – to 44 yards rushing. The Chieftains did gain some chunk yardage passing, completing 10 of 18 passes for 140 yards giving them a total of 184 yards of offense.

“Defensively we flew around to the ball great,” said Weidman. “They did get a couple of big plays on jump ball type things where we had our hands on the ball. We have to make those plays and get the ball to the ground.”

The Pioneers, paced by Cohee’s 89 yards rushing, ran for 130 yards. Senior quarterback Matt Mortellite completed 8 of 14 passes for 51 yards and Cohee was 2 for 5 for 17 yards giving the Pioneers 68 yards passing and 198 yards of total offense. Several turnovers prevented them from scoring more.

“We did some pretty good things against a really good, aggressive defense so that was positive,” said Weidman. “The only thing I can really say I was disappointed in was that we shot ourselves in the foot a little bit offensively with penalties and fumbles. That moved us back and didn’t allow us to score a couple of times. It was disappointing to not finish those drives.”

The Pioneers also excelled in a five play goal line series after the main varsity scrimmage. They scored on two of the five plays with Mortellite connecting with Marengi and co-captain Nate Drislane.

Early Impressions

Weidman sees the need for improvement in some areas after the team’s first full week of practice.

“We need to execute some things the way they are supposed to be executed,” the coach said. “A few times we have guys doing their own thing and that can hurt plays and opportunities.”

Overall, Weidman is pleased with the effort he is seeing from his squad.

“Effort is the big thing,” he said. “You can’t fix that if it’s not there. The majority of the effort has been good with a pretty good, positive attitude. The rising sophomores that were on the freshman team last year have brought a little added energy. They’ve been helpful in practices.”

Next Up: Salem, Melrose

The Pioneers finish up their preseason schedule this week with two home scrimmages. They were taking on Salem Tuesday night as the Villager went to press and they’ll host Melrose on Friday, September 1 to face the fifth ranked team in D4 at 4 p.m. The Pioneers open the regular season at Pioneer Stadium against Newburyport on Friday, September 8 at 7 p.m.