LYNNFIELD — It’s a whole new ballgame for the Lynnfield football team this year. With a new coach in Patrick Lamusta, a lot of new faces in the starting lineup and several returners playing new positions, it’s anyone’s guess what lies in store this season.
Last season ended in disappointment when the Pioneers went up in flames in the Division 5 North quarterfinals against Watertown. Lynnfield held a 10-point lead with a little more than a minute left, but the Red Raiders stormed back with two touchdowns to break the hearts of the Pioneer faithful.
This year, the Pioneers face an uphill battle with five of their seven regular season games on the road.
Like last year’s team, the Pioneers lack size but will rely on athleticism and speed.
“We’ll be a very fast and athletic team. In every game, we’ll have to use that in such a way to counter teams with a size and/or experience advantage,” said Lamusta. “But I do believe this team has the athletes, staff, and community support to win the league and make a run in the playoffs, so that’s what we’re working toward.”
Leading the way are four senior captains — Cole Moretti, Leo Quinn, Jaret Simpson and Hunter Allain. Moretti and Allain will be key players on the offensive line, which was decimated by graduation, while Quinn and Simpson will see time at running back.
One of the biggest holes the Pioneers need to fill is at quarterback with the loss of Matt Mortellite, who shattered most of the quarterback records last year and is now playing at St. Lawrence.
“Right now, it’s still up for grabs between the junior and senior, and no leaning either way,” said Lamusta. “Senior Brett Cohee is a speedster and probably has the most experience, knows the offense well and is dangerous in the open field, while Clayton Marengi, a junior, has a great arm and definitely brings a wide range of skills and athleticism.”
Key offensive returners include linemen Cam Comeau and Cory Castinetti, junior wide receiver John Lee, junior running back Anthony Floramo, junior tight end Khad Connell and senior wide receivers Sal Marotta, Jeff Floramo and Matt Fiore.
Several promising newcomers are in the mix for playing time including junior center Mike Julian, junior tackle Justin Ndansi, junior guard Liam Farrell and sophomore wide receiver Jack Ford.
Defensively, the Pioneers are also looking to rebuild with Quinn set to move to outside linebacker, Simpson, Allain and Marotta at inside linebacker, Moretti and Comeau on the defensive line, and Lee, junior Aidan McCormack and Fiore at defensive back.
Anthony Floramo, a junior inside linebacker, Marengi, a defensive back, and junior defensive linemen Owen Blacker and Ndansi are also in the mix.
Lamusta said that he learned quite a bit from the Pioneers’ three scrimmages, the most recent coming against Melrose last Friday.
“Against Masco, our team speed on defense was able to keep them out of the end zone with the exception of the goal line period,” said Lamusta. “Against Salem, we demonstrated the ability to use multiple formations and personnel to gain scoring opportunities, essentially, getting athletes in space, and we had five different players score.
“The game scrimmage against Melrose was a tough match, but we did see our athleticism show in spurts with two scoring drives and a defense that improved as the contest went on. What I was really looking for in the Melrose scrimmage was execution and I was happy, for the most part with what I saw against a big, strong team.”
Lynnfield kicks off the new season Friday night (7) at Cape Ann League opponent Newburyport.