Travis Ryan was one of two Rams placed on the NEC South All-Star team. (Item File Photo)

A season to remember for Classical’s golf team

LYNN -- It's fall, and the focus falls on football. And this season, in Lynn, it's been a mighty intense focus.

"We have four football teams in this city that have gone absolutely crazy," says Classical golf coach Jack Morrison. "I get that. I understand it."

But, says Morrison, "it's certainly good to be recognized for what you do."

Yes, it is. And for what the Rams did on the North Shore's golf courses this fall, they should be given the opportunity to take a few bows.

No, they didn't win any state titles. They didn't even win the league match. They only placed two kids (Travis Ryan and Sean Devin) on the Northeastern Conference South all-star team, and neither made all-conference.

But none of that should detract from what the Rams did this fall, which was to go 12-4 during the season, make the state tournament for the first time in the memory of anyone over there -- including Morrison.

But most of all, says Morrison, they finished in the upper echelon of the entire 16-team Northeastern Conference in the recent league meet in Wenham, "and I'm extremely proud of that. I think that is a great accomplishment."

For the record, Gloucester won the team title and Danvers' Jared Micisz was the individual medalist, but Ryan and Devin more than held their own, shooting 75 and 79 respectively.

To Morrison, it's easy to explain the Rams' recent success.

"I've been blessed," he said, "with good kids who are by and large good athletes. They all play other sports, and they're all good at them. Golf might be their third sport, but they work hard at it."

Ryan is a hockey player, as is Devin, who also plays baseball. Some of the other kids on the team are equally adept and multiple sports. Brett Bucklin played right field on the Babe Ruth World Series team of 2016, and now pitches for the Rams; and A.J. Luciano also played on that World Series team, and was a rising star for the Rams' baseball team last spring.

"We also had a really nice surprise in Tim Nerich, a sophomore," said Morrison. "He didn't lose a match in the conference (12-0-2) and he'd play anywhere from No. 2 to No. 5. We could move him around. He was kind of like the unsung hero on the team."

Also solid at No. 3 or No. 4 all fall was Brendan Lannon. The aforementioned represented Morrison's solid six. But he also had the luxury of shuffling four players into the final two spots -- all of whom gave him more than he could have ever hoped for: Shawn Finnigan, Andrew Patrie, Luke Rao and Kyle McCarthy.

"I'd shuffle them in and out and give them experience," Morrison said. "They'd platoon. I had really good kids. That's half the battle if you have good kids, and they're good  kids.. They bought in."

Of his top two, Ryan (who won the inaugural Moynihan Lumber Student Athlete of the Month Award for September) had more of a pedigree.

"He'd been playing with his dad since he was a kid," Morrison said. "But Sean never played. He showed up as pretty much of a beginner when he was a freshman and just worked very hard. When he shot his 79, I couldn't have been happier for him."

About the only sour note this season for the Rams was the Division 2 North qualifier in Georgetown.

"It didn't go great," he said. "We were playing with the big boys like Winchester, Belmont and Central Catholic. My guys shot what I thought they'd shoot. Everybody competed. But they weren't used to medal play, as opposed to match play, which is what we play in the Northeastern Conference."

It's easy to imagine a school such as Classical -- an inner-city institution -- doing well in sports such as football, basketball and baseball. It's a bit harder to put together consistent programs in sports such as tennis and golf.

But that's what Classical has done. And all Morrison hopes is that the success his team had this season will lead to more of same, and that this isn't just a cyclical thing.

Let us hope that's the case.

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