Offense scores five times, defense allows a single TD
Published in the September 2, 2015 edition
By TOM CONDARDO
BOXFORD — Not many teams can match up to the Pioneers when it comes to roster numbers but one that can is Masco. The Pioneers trotted 74 players onto Bunker Field in Boxford for Saturday morning’s scrimmage with the Chieftains. Masco suited up 76 for the meeting, and then poured in another couple of dozen freshmen to convincingly win the numbers battle.
That’s about all they won in the controlled scrimmage between last year’s CAL Baker and Kinney champions. Masco captured the Kinney last season, was the top seed in the Division 3 Northeast and made it to the division semi finals before bowing to Tewksbury 28-0. The Pioneers took the Baker and suffered their only loss of the season to Holliston in the Division 4 North finals.
It was an aggressive, hard hitting Pioneer team that had the upper hand in this scrimmage which has each varsity run four sets of 10 plays starting at the opponent 40 yard line and one set of five plays from the opponent’s 10. The Pioneers scored on their first three sets and twice on their final 10 play set while Masco managed to get into the end zone on only one of their five sets.
“We did a good job,” said Pioneer head coach Neal Weidman following the scrimmage. “Masco’s a little younger than they typically are so that had something to do with it. I was pleased with some things but there are other things we need to clean up. But then again we’ve only been practicing for a week.”
Senior quarterback Jake McHugh had a good showing, completing 10 of 14 passes for 105 yards and TD strikes to juniors Louis Ellis (18 yards) and Alex Boustris (4 yards). McHugh also ran five times for 47 yards and a five-yard rushing score. Sophomore Nick Kinnon tossed a 30-yard touchdown pass to senior Esaie Philantrope and sophomore Nathan Drislane rounded out the scoring by busting up the middle for a 14-yard TD run. In all the Pioneers erupted for 209 yards of offense in 45 plays a 4.6-yard per play average.
The Pioneer defense was just as impressive holding the Chieftains to 96 total yards. Masco scored on their ninth play of their next to last 10-play set. The varsity scrimmage ended with a Pioneer goal line stand holding the Chieftains out of the end zone from the 1 on Masco’s final play of their five-play set. Philantrope also picked off an interception.
Pioneers making progress
“Things are going well,” Weidman said when asked to assess the progress of his team in their brief work so far. “We put a ton of stuff in, maybe too much to start. I tried to simplify the play calling today. Some guys are ready for it and some guys aren’t, especially the depth guys. We have a small junior class so a lot of our depth is sophomores and they’re trying to catch up a little bit.”
Weidman has been pleased that some of that sophomore group have stepped up and he feels they should become good players going forward. “Four or five of them have been a little bit more impressive than I thought they’d be,” the coach said.
The offensive line has also been a bright spot so far, according to Weidman.
The Pioneers were playing their second scrimmage against Salem on Tuesday night as the Villager went to press. They will wrap up their preseason with a game-like scrimmage against Northeast Metro Tech on Friday at 4:30 p.m. at Pioneer Stadium. They open the regular season on Sept. 11 at home against Newburyport.
PIONEER CAPTAIN Drew McCarthy finds a hole and sprints for a 12-yard gain during the Pioneers’ scrimmage against Masco at Bunker Field in Boxford on Saturday, Aug. 29. (Tom Condardo Photo)
SENIOR quarterback Jake McHugh heads for the end zone on a five-yard touchdown run during the Pioneers’ scrimmage against Masco at Bunker Field in Boxford on Saturday, Aug. 29. (Tom Condardo Photo)