Lynn Chargers Gladiator Division coach JP Guy has been coaching the same group of kids since they were in first grade. On Sunday, he’ll see his team compete for a American Youth Football Eastern Mass Super Bowl title, and it’s the perfect ending to his time with the group.
The Gladiators have dominated the competition this season, rolling to a 10-0 record after beating Beverly Orange in the Northeast Conference Youth Football League Championship last weekend. That earned them the opportunity to play for a Super Bowl title this Sunday, as they clash against undefeated Medford at Bertram Field in Salem (2).
Guy says that the season started off on a very high note, with a 43-0 win over Watertown. Through the next eight games, however, Guy noted that he didn’t see the same hot start that his team got off to in the season opener.
“They had a couple of games with slow first halves but picked it up. We’re more of a second-half team,” the coach said. “But the last three games, we’ve played pretty good.”
That culminated with a clash against Beverly Orange last weekend. Beverly boasted the top defense in the league, allowing just 68 points to opponents through its first nine games.
The problem for Beverly? Lynn touts the top offense and, at the time, the second-best defense in the division. Lynn flexed its muscle and rolled to a 27-0 win.
“We knew we’d have our hands full,” Guy said. “The first time we saw them, we only won 19-14. We were expecting it to be a hard-fought game, and we brought a four-quarter effort. That was probably the first time I’ve seen that since the first game. You could just see it in them.
“Our defensive speed was much quicker,” Guy added. “We had the coach from English (Chris Carroll) there and he said he saw the difference, that the defense was flying around the field. It was a big difference.”
Lynn now can claim the best offense and defense in the league. The offense has put up 312 points, an average of 31 points per game. No other team in the division has broken 200 points. Defensively, the shutout against Beverly Orange improved Lynn’s points allowed average to just seven points per game.
The team is packed with talent, and Guy has a special connection to the squad with two of his sons playing key roles. James Guy is a starting running back, and his father said that “he’s done everything we’ve told him to do.” Guy’s other son, Jamari Myers, has four picks at safety.
Jesse Maggs has been “phenomenal,” throwing for at least six touchdowns this season. Wesley Chandler is an impact player on both sides of the ball, and Jordan Thompson has been “lights out” at both defensive end and tight end. Damon Mitchem is a force at linebacker, Shea Palmer has used his height to snag a few touchdowns and interceptions, and Nicholas Pink solidifies the lines.
The group has been together since first grade under the direction of Guy.
“t means a lot to me,” Guy said. “It’s my last year coaching, probably until my youngest son is old enough to play. It means the world to me. I just want to see them succeed and carry it on into high school.”
As eighth-graders in their final year of youth football, the experience is the last they’ll have being trying out for their high school teams next year. Guy, who starred at Classical under coach Matt Durgin, knows the value of gaining experience in these high-leverage games.
“It’s very valuable,” he said. “You have to earn everything once you get to that level. If you want it, you have to go and get it.”
The biggest game of the season is still on the horizon, as Lynn will suit up against a strong Medford team Sunday.
“We’re expecting a real good game,” Guy said. “Both teams have great running backs and wide receivers, all-around good ballplayers. It’s going to be the clash of the titans.”