Sports

Pioneers seniors gather for one final game together

Jason Ndansi is one of five Lynnfield seniors who'll play in Friday night's Agganis Football All-Star game. (COURTESY PHOTO )

LYNNFIELD — The 2017 season didn’t end the way the Lynnfield football team wanted, losing to Watertown in the Division 5 North final. Then two weeks later, the Pioneers were missing two key seniors to injury during the annual Thanksgiving football game against rival North Reading, putting an even more sour end to their final year of high school football.

“We had really high expectations coming into the year, and I think we met most of them,” said Pioneers quarterback Matt Mortellite. “Aside from that loss to Watertown and the Thanksgiving game, it was a great year for us.”

“The season definitely didn’t end the way we wanted it to, but we had a good year,” wide receiver Jason Ndansi added. “Obviously every team’s goal is to win a Super Bowl and we didn’t do that, but we still came a long way from the start of the year.”

Luckily, thanks to the 57th Annual Agganis All-Star Football Game Friday night, a group of five Lynnfield seniors will be able to shake off those final two losses and play one more game together as teammates.

“It’s awesome, especially considering the way things ended with our season,” Ndansi said of being able to play with his teammates one more time. “To be able to have Matt and Murph (running back Anthony Murphy) back on the field will be great, I’m excited for it.”

Mortellite and Murphy were the two Pioneers who were injured during the Thanksgiving game, Murphy having broken his leg in the Division 5 North final and Mortellite suffering a concussion on a sack during the game. Mortellite, Murphy and Ndansi will join wide receiver Nick Kinnon and linebacker Cooper Marengi on the South team for the Agganis Game tonight at Manning Field.

“It’s an honor to be picked to play in the Agganis Game,” said Mortellite, who’ll continue his football career at St. Lawrence University in the fall. “I know there’s a long list of great Lynnfield players who have been picked, so it’s great to be able to continue that legacy for our town.”

Mortellite has been the starter for the Pioneers since transferring to his hometown school from Malden Catholic in his junior year. His numbers in that short period of time have put him in a conversation among Lynnfield’s best passers ever, as he threw for a program record 1,878 yards in his senior year and also broke the program record for career touchdown passes with 38. He also completed a streak of 20 straight games with at least one touchdown pass.

But tonight’s game is just about getting back out on the field with his teammates for one final round together as Pioneers.

“We’ve been playing together for so long, it’ll just be great to end it all on a Friday night in the summer with those guys,” Mortellite said. “I’ve enjoyed playing with all of them so much over the past couple years and I’m sorry it’ll have to end, but this is a good way to end it.”

Ndansi is just as enthusiastic, both in how he feels about playing with his teammates one more time and in how he feels about getting selected to play in the game.

“It feels great to be selected to the team, it means a lot,” said Ndansi, who’ll continue his football career Tufts University this fall. “I worked hard all year, so it’s great to be recognized for it and to be picked to such a prestigious team.”

The 57th Annual Agganis All-Star Football Game kicks off Friday night (7) at Manning.

Tickets for the Agganis game can be purchased online at agganisfoundation.com. New Balance has created a team store with Agganis all-star apparel and is donating a portion of its proceeds from sales to the Agganis Foundation. Apparel can be purchased by visiting newbalanceteam.com/team/member/order?orderId=53468.

More Stories From Lynnfield