It isn’t just four schools from Lynn that are undefeated as we head into the fifth week of the season. There are four more schools that haven’t tasted defeat either: Swampscott, Marblehead, Danvers and Lynnfield.
Back in the day, before this current playoff system came into being, having eight unbeaten teams only four weeks in wasn’t really all that special. But now, with only seven games before the teams are sorted for playoff purposes, it’s suddenly a big deal.
For example, unless one of the four Lynn teams goes completely in the over the next three weeks, all four teams will have home games to begin the playoffs. Frankly, I don’t see that happening. This means that over two days — possibly three — Manning Field would have to host four first-round playoff games. And very likely four more the next week if all the teams win.
This could get extremely dicey, too, because Classical and English are in the same division and would conceivably play each other in the North sectional before their Thanksgiving game. Stay tuned on that one.
Meanwhile, Swampscott is giving its fans a season to remember as it christens the new Blocksidge Field. Colin Frary has to be in the conversation as far being one of the premier quarterbacks in the area. He’ll be up against another one Saturday with English’s Matt Severance.
For a team that hasn’t lost a regular-season game in two years, Marblehead has flown completely under the radar. There have been so many other storylines this year that the Magicians methodically keep on winning. And while we’ve read tons of stuff about some of the other players in the area, Marblehead’s Derek Marino also has to be in the conversation as one of the area’s top players. He was a one-man wrecking crew two weeks ago in the Magicians’ win over Peabody.
Lynnfield is right down there with Marblehead on that radar screen. The Pioneers have made it look fairly easy thus far, but the second half of their schedule presents some more formidable opposition. So we’ll see how everything goes.
It’s too bad Tech and St. Mary’s are in different divisions. A game between the two teams now, with the Tigers on more equal footing, would be very interesting. Jame Runner has done a great job with that program.
Actually, anytime a team is as successful as these eight teams have been you have to give the coach props. Matt Durgin of St. Mary’s has proven himself over his long and illustrious career as one of the truly great high school coaches of this generation, at least. I’ve never seen anyone better at identifying the skill sets of his players and then putting them in a position to thrive. It’s a gift not every coach has.
Brian Vaughan of Classical has seen success elsewhere, and he’s certainly translated it to O’Callaghan Way and Holyoke Street. I had occasion to watch one of his practices in August while I waited to interview him for our preview pages, and it was impressive. His players never touched a ball. They ran. And ran. And ran.
Some people might think that odd, but tell that to any one of them in the fourth quarter of a tough game, such as last Friday night’s in Gloucester. It pays off.
English’s Chris Carroll had the Bulldogs almost there last year, but they just couldn’t finish. Fast-forward a year and now English is winning those games. First Beverly, and then, two weeks later, North Reading.
Go down the line. Jim Rudloff is a consistent winner in Marblehead. Ditto Neal Weidman in Lynnfield. Most people who know Bobby Serino say he did a spectacular job as an assistant at Swampscott. Three years into his tenure as head coach, he has a very good team.
Friday’s St. Mary’s win over Cardinal Spellman pretty much defines the term “bittersweet.” One of the Spartans’ assistant coaches is Joe Masucci, brother of Vanessa MacCormack, who was slain last week, allegedly by her husband.
The Spartans scored a huge win over Cardinal Spellman, a team they have had problems with in the past, especially in Brockton. The team was understandably happy and raucous over the way they played.
But Durgin put it all in perspective when he gave Masucci — who made the trip — the game ball. From what I hear, there wasn’t a dry eye in the locker room.
The team also attended the wake Sunday (as did the English volleyball team, whose assistant coach is Angela Masucci, Vanessa’s sister).
Finally, after spending Saturday afternoon at a miserably wet, dank and dreary Stackpole Field in Saugus, I can say this: I like what I saw out of the Sachems. They may be winless, but those kids came to play Saturday against a very good English team, and they’re tough. They just have to grow a little and get some more experience.