Tournament games keep Manning Field busy

LYNN– As a busy fall state tournament season begins to wind to a close with the sectional championships coming up this weekend, things are certainly not slowing down over at Manning Field. In fact, things may even be speeding up.

Over the next four days, there will be 12 games played at Manning between football and soccer, 11 of which will be sectional championship games. Such a schedule requires some hard work to keep the field in order, especially for people like Manning Field facilities manager Rich Avery.

“It’s a challenge for sure, but we’ve got a great crew here,” Avery said. “With the soccer tournament, we’ve been doing it over here for a couple of years now so it’s kind of an old hat. Everyone here has been through it and kind of knows where they’re supposed to be and what needs to be done.”

But after being at Manning through plenty of fall seasons and tournaments, Avery knows how to handle it. Especially this season, after KIPP football came onto the scene and claimed Manning as its home field, adding another tenant to the list. Things got so crowded this weekend that the Panthers have agreed to play their next game, against Burke, on Thursday, Nov. 16, at 7 p.m. at Manning.

“Adding another team changed things up for us in that we had to start freeing up some Thursday nights as well, so we were doing things like having a Thursday night game then doubleheaders on Friday and Saturday pretty much every week,” Avery said. “It was a lot but again, we’ve got a great crew here. And luckily the football scheduling gods were good to us this year, that helped too.”

Things don’t get any easier on the other side of things, where soccer tournament director Jeff Newhall comes into play. The list of upcoming games is fairly daunting, and it began Thursday night with the Division 2 North girls soccer semifinal game between Danvers and Arlington. Friday will see back-to-back football games with Classical hosting Northeastern Conference foe Peabody at 4 p.m. in a non-playoff game before St. Mary’s hosts Boston City League’s Brighton in the Division 7 North championship game at 7 p.m.

Saturday is busy from noon through the rest of the day, starting with the Division 1 North boys soccer championship game between St. John’s Prep and Brookline at 11 a.m. The gears then switch back to football, starting with English hosting Tewksbury in the Division 3 North championship game at 2 p.m. followed by Lynn Tech hosting Cathedral in the Division 8 North championship game at 7 p.m.

Sunday will be another all-day affair, this time exclusively featuring soccer games. The Division 4 North boys title game will kick things off at 11 a.m., followed by the Division 4 North girls title game at 1:30 p.m., the Division 3 North boys title game at 4 p.m. and the Division 3 North girls title game involving Swampscott at 6:30 p.m.

The mad dash at Manning begins to finally slow down on Monday, with the Division 2 North boys and girls title games likely taking place back-to-back, although game times have not officially been announced.

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