Georgetown is the team to beat
A quick reflection on last weekend’s football action: Congratulations to Georgetown for pulling off the upset of the season, overcoming a 14-0 second-half deficit against previously undefeated Amesbury en route to a 15-14 victory. Now Georgetown (4-0) is the lone unbeaten team in the River Rival Region, which is quite impressive when you consider the Royals made the shift from the Commonwealth Conference Small to the Cape Ann League this season. Many schools in the CAL experience decade-long stretches between championship runs, and the Royals have made an immediate ascent to the top of the standings.
To give you an idea of how difficult it can be to mount a CAL title run, Amesbury started this season with four wins for the first time since 1989. The 1989 Indians started 8-0 and finished 9-1, which is the school’s best record over the last 25 years. For Amesbury football historians, Dave Bailey coached the 1989 team, Mark Walther played quarterback, and Tony Willis was the starting tailback. The Indians returned to glory last season, earning a CAL Small title and the first postseason tournament appearance in school history. But it took 18 years between title bids.
So count your blessings Royals fans. It’s not supposed to be this easy.
Onto the picks:
Newburyport at Ipswich, 7
Clippers quarterback Joe Clancy had his best game of the season last week in a 24-14 win over Lynnfield. He completed 16 of 21 passes for 163 yards and a touchdown. Perhaps it was no coincidence that the Clippers (1-4) notched their first win. I attribute the offensive success to three things.
1. Offensive balance (21 pass attempts vs. 30 rushing attempts). The Clippers have gotten pass-heavy in their losses.
2. No interceptions. Clancy has thrown five interceptions in four losses.
3. Improved offensive line play. It’s a young group and the pass/run balance helps keep defenders on their heels.
The pick: Newburyport 29, Ipswich 6
Lynnfield at Triton, 7
Did anyone expect Triton to beat North Reading by 27 points last week? I’d guess no. After all, North Reading beat Pentucket in Week 1. There’s no question this Triton team is vastly improved from last year’s 1-10 squad. The Vikings control the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball. On offense, the run sets up the threat of the big pass play. On defense, the Vikings allow four- or five-yard gains but refuse to give up large chunks of yardage. This one should be easy.
The pick: Triton 21, Lynnfield 12
Amesbury at Pentucket, 1:30
Indians tailback Kevin Johnston was limited to 26 rushing yards last week vs. Georgetown. I’d be surprised if he had two quiet weeks in a row, but Pentucket’s defense has not allowed a point in the last 180 minutes of action. I liked Amesbury quarterback Jared Flannigan’s effort in last week’s loss. He struggled to find open receivers on passing plays, and tailbacks Johnston and Jesse Burrell struggled to find running room, so the senior quarterback took it upon himself to make plays. He led the Indians in rushing yards (62) and scored both touchdowns. Pentucket may even have a stronger rushing attack than Amesbury; tailbacks Chris Modlish and Dan Johanson combined for 214 rushing yards last week in a win over Ipswich.
The pick: Pentucket 18, Amesbury 14
Murdock at Georgetown, 1
Another weird game on Georgetown’s schedule. I’m going to go out on a limb and say the Royals had a difficult time scheduling non-league opponents since they switched conferences last offseason. And that’s based on the fact that the Royals had two bye weeks in September, and they will complete their non-league schedule this week with a team from Winchendon. The Royals will be 5-0 after this week with non-league wins over Matignon, Marblehead and Murdock. Here’s hoping the Royals can schedule non-league opponents like Triton, Pentucket and North Andover next season.
The pick: Georgetown 41, Murdock 8
The Governor’s Academy at St. Mark’s, 2:30 p.m.
The Govs (1-3) lost to Brooks, 18-10, last week. I’ve now wrongly predicted the Govs to win three weeks in a row. What is their punishment? They must win again before I make the same mistake.
The pick: St. Mark’s 21, Govs 10