ITEM PHOTO BY KATIE MORRISON
English quarterback Matt Severance goes back to pass during Saturday’s 7v7 action at Bishop Fenwick.
By ANNE MARIE TOBIN
PEABODY — If you love high school football, then Bishop Fenwick was the place to be Saturday for the Under Armour Northeast 7v7 East Regional football championship.
The tournament, formerly known as the Swampscott/Lynnfield 7 on 7 Shootout sold out again this year with 40 teams battling not only each other, but the summer heat on a day where the mercury climbed as high as 90 degrees.
English, Classical, Swampscott, Lynnfield and Bishop Fenwick competed in the event, which featured eight flights of five teams each who played four 24-minute pool-play games with the top two teams in each flight moving on to “Sweet 16” single elimination round.
By the time the dust settled, Billerica, which won the North Regional last year, was the last team standing, having beaten English 14-12 in the championship game.
Both teams will join eight other teams, including South Regional champion Middleboro and North Regional Champion Winnacunnet at Thursday’s Northeast 7v7 New England championship hosted by Fenwick, which also hosted the New England tournament last year.
The Bulldogs went 6-2 for the day — losing both times to Billerica, once in pool play and again in the final. The Bulldogs won their first two elimination games, then defeated BB&N in the semifinals
“Our kids played tremendous,” said English coach Chris Carroll. “It’s a long day. We got there at 9 a.m., and I don’t think that last game ended til past 5.
“Plus it was hot,” Carroll said. “The kids played very well. We were up by five points down to the last play of the game against Billerica. Credit their quarterback. He made a good throw, and their receiver made a nice catch. That’s football.”
Classical also played well, said coach Brian Vaughan, who will enter his first year as head coach of the Rams in September. The Rams went 4-1, “and it was a good job by the guys,” said Vaughan.
The Rams rolled through pool play with four straight wins, but were upended by Stoneham in the opening round of the elimination bracket.
Classical scored 146 points and only allowed 58.
“We lost in the first round of the playoffs,” Vaughan said. “The kids competed well. The day gave us a bit of confidence as well.
Swampscott also finished 4-0 in pool play with wins over Northeast Metro (19-13), Edward Little (14-13) Masconomet (19-18) and Malden (14-13). The Big Blue knocked out Austin Prep in the first round, then fell to Woburn in double-overtime, 24-18 in the quarterfinals.
The Pioneers, led by captains Nick Kinnon, Cooper Marengi and Anthony Murphy, were undefeated in pool play, posting a record of 4-0, to earn the top seed in the “H” bracket only to be eliminated in the first round by English, 20-14. The game ended in controversy, however, when the referees declared the game was over some four minutes before the air horn sounded.
At the 7v7, all games are played concurrently, starting at the exact same time and ending at the same time on the sounding of an air horn. Pool play games last 24-minutes while elimination bracket games are only 20 minutes in duration.
Trailing 20-14 with under a minute to play (according to the referees), Lynnfield had the ball on the 1-yard line after a defensive pass interference call on English. Lynnfield quarterback Matt Mortellite found Marengi over the middle, but a hard hit by an English defender knocked the ball loose. As Lynnfield lined up for its next play, one of the referees signaled the game was over, claiming the air horn had been blown. The Pioneers protested, pointing out that two games on adjacent fields were still in progress and that the air horn had not yet sounded. In fact, the official air horn sounded approximately four minutes later after the referees declared the game was over, signifying the official end of all first round games.
Carroll explained that the other two teams on the field at the time his game with Lynnfield ended had begun their games at different times, and that the Lynnfield-English game ended on a defensive penalty, meaning the one more play needed to be run.
Nonetheless, it was a good day according to Pioneers’ head coach Neal Weidman who was on hand as an observer..
“The compete level was good, with some of the young guys getting a chance to play, too,” he said. “This is always a good team building exercise.”
Lynnfield defeated Winthrop, 27-13, in the first round, then defeated Burlington, 21-12, and Beverly, 20-6, before wrapping up pool play with a 25-13 win over Lowell.
Fenwick lost to Revere, 13-12 in its first game, then fell to Chicopee Comprehensive in the next game, 20-14. The Crusaders rebounded with a 29-0 win over Groton-Dunstable to improve to 1-2.
In their final game, BB&N jumped out to an 8-0 lead on the first possession of the game, the teams traded turnovers, with Dylan Mullen doing the honors for Fenwick about 10 minutes in. With five minutes to go, Derek DelVecchio came out of nowhere with a 30-yard interception for a touchdown to cut the deficit to 8-6. That was as close as the Crusaders would come, however.