Published in the October 26, 2016 edition


LYNNFIELD — From pre-season scrimmage partner to first round playoff foe.

For over nearly 30 years, the Pioneers would close out their preseason practices with a Labor Day weekend scrimmage against Northeast Metro Tech of Wakefield. However, with the reshuffling of the divisions this year, Lynnfield and Northeast both landed in Division 3A, so the practice game was discontinued this year in case the teams ended up meeting in the post season.

“It was more (Northeast head coach) Don (Heres) more than me,” said Pioneer head coach Neal Weidman of the decision to discontinue the scrimmage. “He felt that since we were going to be in the same division, maybe we shouldn’t scrimmage each other.”

The Pioneers’ win over Hamilton-Wenham last week lifted them into fourth place in the division seedings, 12 points ahead of Northeast which finished fifth overall. That slight edge means the Golden Knights will have to travel to Pioneer Stadium on Friday night in the opening round of the D3A playoffs.

Despite the proximity of and familiarity with Northeast football, this will be the first time ever that the two teams will meet in an official game.

“We’ve always had a really friendly relationship as far as scrimmaging and trying to make each other better,” Weidman said. “We’ve stayed in contact throughout the years. But it will definitely be different playing them in a real game.”

Northeast comes into the contest with a 5-2 record after beating Chelsea (62-12), North Quincy (14-8), Greater Lawrence, the third seed in D3A (36-20), Whittier Tech (42-8) and Lynn Tech (36-26). They lost to both Manchester-Essex 21-12, which is a team the Pioneers beat 47-14, and the division’s second seed, Shawsheen 34-8. They are averaging 30 points per game while allowing only 18.

The Knights are a predominantly running team, rarely throwing any passes. They run a Wing T offense similar to Pentucket and Amesbury with some variations. They feature lots of motion, pitches and misdirection. The Pioneers’ defense is going to have to stay home to recognize and diffuse the razzle-dazzle attack.

They feature some big backs who pound the defense. Scott Peary is Northeast’s leading scorer with 10 touchdowns and five two-point conversions for 70 points, which is sixth best in D3A. Austin Perrin has six touchdowns and three two-point conversions. They go for two after nearly every touchdown. Quarterback Andrew Smith has thrown only three TD passes on the year, two of them to Perrin.

“We have a short week to prepare so we have to get after it,” Weidman said. “It’s the playoffs now so we have to step our game up.”

Game time at Lynnfield High School’s Pioneer Stadium is 7 p.m.