Teams combine for nearly 600 yards in first action of the year


SLIPPING a tackle and heading for the end zone is Captain Alex Boustris on a 35–yard TD reception run in Saturday’s scrimmage versus Masconomet. (Tom Condardo Photo)

Published in the August 31, 2016 edition


BOXFORD — Defense took a holiday Saturday morning in Boxford as the Lynnfield Pioneers and Masconomet Chieftains battled in a good, old-fashioned shootout. When the dust cleared, the two squads had combined for 561 yards of offense with the Chieftains outlasting the young Pioneers 47-42.

The controlled scrimmage consisted of each team alternately running four sets of 10 plays each starting at the opponent’s 40–yard line.

The Pioneers amassed 270 yards and six touchdowns in their 40 plays. The Chieftains, who are the sixth–rated team in Division 2, which is three divisions higher than Lynnfield, more than matched the Pioneers, rolling for 291 yards and seven scores.

“That’s probably the most combined touchdowns we’ve ever had in this scrimmage,” said Pioneer head coach Neal Weidman, adding that after the game he told Gavin Monagle, Masco’s head coach, “It looks like we have to work on tackling next week.”


JUNIOR Anthony Murphy powers past two Chieftains and into the end zone on a 7–yard TD run Saturday. (Tom Condardo Photo)

Balanced attack by Pioneers

The Pioneers featured a balanced attack with 138 yards passing and 132 yards rushing.

“We ran the ball better than I thought we would, especially with Masco’s size,” said Weidman. “They are big. They were young last year and this year those kids are bigger, stronger, faster and better than they were last year. They are good.”

Pioneer starting quarterback Matt Mortellite, a junior transfer from Malden Catholic, had a big day for the Blue and Gold, completing five of six passes for 120 yards and two TDs while rushing for another two scores.

Captain Alex Boustris, Tyler Murphy, Nick Kinnon and Anthony Murphy also scored touchdowns. Freshman placekicker Liam Fabbri was a perfect six for six in PATs in his first varsity action.

“He’s kind of a cool cat,” Weidman said of his new kicker. “Our other kickers are Cooper Marengi (TE/ LB) and (captain) Mike Stellato (DT/OG). It’s a lot to ask them to kick too. So I’d really like (Fabbri) to do it.”

Pioneers fight back

The Chieftains scored twice on their first set of plays and the Pioneers answered with a score on their first set. The big play was a 38–yard pass from Mortellite to captain Kyle Hawes, who was hauled down just short of the goal line. Mortellite then punched it in from the 1.


PERFECT START. Freshman Liam Fabbri boots his sixth straight PAT in Saturday’s scrimmage against Masco. He was 6 for 6 in his first varsity action. (Tom Condardo Photo)

The second units for both teams each scored with Tyler Murphy doing the honors for the Pioneers on a 15–yard run. That cut Masconomet’s lead to 21–14.

With the first teams back on the field, Masconomet reeled off three quick scores and after two muffed PAT tries, the Chieftains led 40–14.

The Pioneers’ first offense answered back with a trio of scores of their own. Kinnon took a bubble screen from Mortellite and sped 25 yards for the TD. Mortellite then got loose and outraced the Chieftains’ defense on a 35–yard TD run. Boustris then cut the lead to 40–35 on a 35–yard catch and run from Mortellite.

Masconomet’s second unit then stretched the lead to 47–35 but a seven–yard TD run by Anthony Murphy got the Pioneers to 47–42 with only one play left and that’s the way it ended.

While the offense was clicking, the defense had trouble slowing down Masconomet’s offense.

“A lot of it is just experience,” Weidman explained. “Defense is physical and we have a lot of juniors playing on both sides of the ball. With juniors it takes time for them to get confidence with the physical part of it. Plus this is our first day of real contact. This is the first time we’ve really hit anybody.”

Overall, Weidman was pleased after the first full week of practice.

“The guys that put in the effort in the off–season are the guys that are performing,” Weidman said. “We’re probably further ahead than I expected but a little behind what I’d hoped in some areas. I was hoping it would be one of those things where they would just get it, but it’s unrealistic to think they’re going to know what to do since they just haven’t done it.

“We have to brush up some other stuff, but we did definitely did some good things today,” the coach summed up.

Next up: Salem, Melrose

The Pioneers will be on the road again for two additional scrimmages. They were taking on Salem Tuesday night as the Villager went to press and they’ll travel to Melrose on Friday, Sept. 2 to face the top–rated D2A Red Raiders at 4 p.m.

The Pioneers open the regular season at refurbished War Memorial Stadium in Newburyport to battle the Clippers on Friday, Sept. 9 at 7 p.m.