By TOM CONDARDO
LYNNFIELD — Pioneer head coach Neal Weidman always gets emotional when talking about his graduating seniors moving on. But as this year’s 19 seniors led the Pioneers to their 11th win Thursday, he knew he was watching the culmination of a very special season.
“Every year you lose a bunch of guys,” Weidman said. “You hate losing any of them for emotional reasons. You’re with them a ton and you get attached. But you hate losing this group for another reason. We’re losing a group of very good football players.”
The enormous success the Pioneers enjoyed this year has put an emphatic imprint on the LHS football record book, from both a team and individual perspective.
Team wise, this is the first group to win their opening 10 games and 11 games overall. Their .917 winning percentage is second only to the undefeated 1960 squad. They are only the second team to score 400 points – the number they hit exactly, second only to the 1960 team that scored 410. They are also second in average points per game scored with 33.3. Their 57 touchdowns was the most scored by a Pioneer squad in a single season.
Defensively, their 6.1 points per game against is fourth best all-time and lowest since Bill Adams’ 1985 CAL Champs. Their five shutouts was second best all time. This is also the first Pioneer team to win three playoff games and the second to win three straight league championships, matching the feat of the 1960-62 teams.
Individually, Dan Sullivan put together a sensational year at quarterback. He set a new single season record for passing touchdowns with 21, breaking the record of 17 set by Gino Cohee in 2010. Overall, Sullivan completed 62.6 percent of his passes for 1,741 yards and threw only five interceptions. For his four-year career, Sullivan completed 60.1 percent of his passes for 2,954 yards, 29 TDs – one off Cohee’s career record – and threw only seven interceptions. Sullivan also tied the single game record of three TD passes three times, against Hamilton-Wenham, Swampscott and North Reading.
Jon Knee’s two TDs on Thanksgiving Day lifted him into a tie with Lindsey Ross (1973) for the single season TD catch mark of nine. Knee’s 14-career TD catches shattered Ross’ mark of 11, which had stood for 41 years. Cam Rondeau’s eight TD passes this year put him one shy of tying Knee for the single season record.
Although records are not complete in this category, Rondeau’s 15 career pass interceptions are undoubtedly the most in LHS history. In addition, Rondeau is the only Pioneer to score touchdowns five different ways in a single season (running, receiving, kickoff return, interception return, fumble return).
Junior Dan Bronshvayg joined the record-breaking party with his placekicking. He set a new record for extra points with 47, breaking Steve Ullian’s mark of 34 set in 2010. He also tied Ullian’s career mark for PATs with 75. Bronshvayg was deadly this year, connecting on 47 of 49 attempts (95.9%). He banged through six PATs in two games, and five in four others.
Senior Jake Rourke scored 92 points this season (10th best single season) giving him 130 for his career (9th best all-time). Knee joins the career Century Club with his 104 points scored.
“It’s graduation and it happens every year to everyone,” said Weidman of bidding adieu to this special team. “Hopefully we can get a new batch in and help replace them. But it’s going to be tough to replace that many good players.”