By Joe Mitchell
It’s been a work in progress this season for the Lynnfield High School football team (3-8), as it had to transition into a new system under the guidance of first-year coach Pat Lamusta. It helped that he and his players were not unfamiliar with each other, because he’s also the varsity boys’ lacrosse coach. But different sports require different game plans, and it does take time to execute them properly.
The football Pioneers lost their first four games, all road contests, before finally coming home in October to beat Manchester Essex with Rockport players sprinkled in, 36-6. They then dropped the next four, before rebounding nicely with two straight wins in nonplayoff games against Wakefield (29-22) and Salem (23-20) to lead nicely into the annual Thanksgiving Day showdown against visiting North Reading (5-5), starting at 10 a.m. on Thursday, Nov. 22. The Hornets shut the Lynnfield boys out last year, 27-0.
The rivalry takes on a different look this year with Lamusta along the sidelines in the head coaching role, and he knows going into the game that this year was all about developing chemistry. “The slow start can be attributed to a combination of things: a coaching staff with new additions, players new to the varsity role and a fairly competitive schedule. Both Wayland and Amesbury went fairly deep into the playoffs,” said Lamusta.
A typical high school football season, like in any sport, is a grind, but coaches and players understand the blueprint and somehow are able to persevere through it. Coach Lamusta is no different. “I knew it would be a difficult. It’s definitely a time-consuming job, so I cannot really say I was surprised by that,” he said. “But I was very pleased by the resiliency and competitiveness of our team against some tough opponents.”
Lamusta has been very pleased with the team’s defensive effort this year. “Defensively, we have really played at a high level all year long,” he said. “The defense has kept us in some very close games, while the offense has progressed over the course of the year. Our execution is much better than it was in September.”
Expect a hard-hitting game when you show up to cheer on the Pioneers Thursday morning at home.
“This will be a physical game,” Lamusta said. “I expect [North Reading] to run the ball with their two solid backs. They will try to keep tabs on our receivers while playing the run. The run game will be crucial for both teams, especially if the weather takes a turn for the worse [early forecasts predict frigid temperatures]. I expect our team to compete at a high level to put us in a position to win the game.”
Some of the Lynnfield players to watch on Thursday morning will be wide receivers Sal Marotta (senior), Matt Fiore (senior), John Lee (junior) and Jack Ford (sophomore). Senior captain Jaret Simpson will be pivotal to the running game, once again, and junior quarterback Clay Marengi will, hopefully, direct the team downfield on many occasions.
Senior captain Hunter Allain is one of the leaders along the offensive line at left tackle. Junior Liam Farrell starts at left guard. Junior Mike Julian hikes the ball as the team’s center. Senior captain Cole Moretti is alongside him at right guard. Junior Owen Blacker takes care of the tackle responsibilities.
Juniors Justin Ndansi and Owen Blacker play up-front, as the team’s defensive ends.
Senior Cole Moretti is the nose tackle. Senior captains Leo Quinn and Simpson are two of the linebackers, along with sophomores D.J. Capachietti and Ford. Jeff Floramo (senior), John Lee (junior), Aidan McCormack (junior) and Fiore (senior) roam around the defensive backfield.