A couple pieces of information for football fans in the area:
First, we’ve re-established our membership with Rally North, so all of our local results — football and otherwise — will be posted on www.rallynorth.net on the evening of the particular games. So visit that site tonight, tomorrow and every day moving forward for the latest scores and stories.
Second, parents of Newburyport football players are starting a new tradition — pre-game tailgates. All Clipper fans are invited to the inaugural tailgate this evening (5:30-6:30 p.m.) in the side parking lot outside World War Memorial Stadium. Hot dogs are chili will be sold, but feel free to bring your own food. Alcohol is prohibited.
Many of the Newburyport football players shaved their heads as they gathered to watch Monday Night Football on television earlier this week. So if you think the Clipper fans and players are depleted by the team’s 0-4 start, think again.
Onto the picks:
Pentucket at Newburyport, 7
Newburyport (0-4) can take a few positives from its 15-13 overtime loss to North Andover last weekend. For one, the Clippers defense allowed seven points in regulation after allowing 72 points the previous two weeks. So the coaching staff appears to have remedied that problem. Also, Dave Freeman had his first evening with a heavy workload out of the Newburyport backfield, and he passed the test. With 22 carries for 117 yards, he showed the Clippers are capable of moving the ball on the ground. Now the Clippers need to find a way to play solid offense and defense on the same night.
Pentucket (2-1) flexed its collective muscle last week with a 14-0 victory over Hamilton-Wenham in the rain and mud. The Sachems are a tough team with a strong offensive and defensive line. Eventually, they may be able to connect on a few passing plays, and they’ll really be dangerous.
The pick: Pentucket 19, Newburyport 13
Lawrence at Amesbury, 7
There are two types of football coaches. The first does his best work in practice, designing schemes and implementing scouting reports. The second is the in-game manager. This coach seems to see things during the course of a game that others don’t. After Amesbury tailback Kevin Johnston exploded for four 50-plus yard touchdowns in Amesbury’s 44-14 win last week over East Boston, Indians coach Thom Connors tried to explain the strategy. In the first quarter, he noticed one of East Boston’s defensive ends had to leave the field due to an injury. From that point forward, he directed his team’s running attack toward that side of the defensive line, targeting the second-string defensive end. My point? Connors is an in-game coach. He should get credit for turning a team that went 18-36 over his first five seasons into a defending Cape Ann League Small champ that’s currently sitting pretty at 3-0.
The pick: Amesbury 35, Lawrence 21
Triton at Ipswich, 7
The common sentiment regarding Jim O’Leary in his first year as the Triton football coach is that his team is well prepared, and his players give maximum effort. Not a bad first impression to make among CAL coaches and spectators. O’Leary had two weeks to prepare for an Ipswich team that hasn’t won since 2006. The bye week came after O’Leary had a chance to dissect his team’s first two games and fix the problem areas. Give Triton the edge.
The pick: Triton 13, Ipswich 0
Marblehead at Georgetown, 2
Does anyone else think it’s weird that Georgetown only played two games in September? Two bye weeks in the opening month? Anyway, it’s tough to get a read on the Royals because they may be a little rusty due to the inactivity. Or they could be used to it. Tough to say. Regardless, all I can tell you is Marblehead beat Ipswich 28-15 in Week 1. I think Georgetown is capable of beating Ipswich by three touchdowns, so I’ll take Joe Esposito’s bunch.
The pick: Georgetown 27, Marblehead 14
The Governor’s Academy at Roxbury Latin, 3:45 p.m.
In two games this season, the Govs (1-1) have scored 16 points and allowed seven. How about some offense this week? They may have a chance because Roxbury (1-1) has scored 27 and allowed 50. Look for the Govs to double their season point total by halftime. And look for the Byfield Boys to return with a winning record.
The pick: Govs 28, Roxbury Latin 0
Last week’s record: 3-0
Season record: 9-5