By Joe Mitchell
It was a rare loss for the Lynnfield High School football team on Thanksgiving since it established the rivalry with North Reading way back in 1959. The Pioneers remain in front after 75 games, 54-21.
But in a season that saw the program go through a transformation from one system to another, when Pat Lamusta, also the Pioneers’ boys’ lacrosse coach, took over for longtime gridiron mentor Neal Weidman, it was not really out of the norm to expect anything different, especially when Lamusta also inherited many new players on the varsity level. As a result, the visiting Hornets were able to shutout the Lynnfield boys (3-8), 32-0.
Lynnfield’s sub-.500 record could have been much different, save for a break or two, according to Lamusta. “One play here, one play there, and the wins and losses would have looked a bit different for us,” the coach said. “Several of our games were within a touchdown or less. Regardless, we had a group of players this year that never gave up. They continued to work hard through adversity, and were playing their best football in November.”
Lamusta specifically signaled out among others junior linebacker Anthony Floramo, who was a major factor on defense, while also seeing time at running back. John Lee and Aidan McCormack were also defensive leaders. Lee was also an offensive threat at wide receiver, and somebody whom Clayton Marengi, a junior quarterback, frequently sought out.
Sophomore Jack Ford also stepped in early at wide receiver, and had a great year, according to the coach. His classmate D.J. Capachietti played some at linebacker and started to make more contributions there toward the end of the season.
On the offensive and defensive line, Mike Julian, Owen Blacker, Liam Farrell and Justin Ndansi are all juniors who played active roles on this year’s team.
“Our seniors kept our team on pace and moving forward during some difficult points in the season,” said Lamusta. “They showed great leadership, especially our captains – Cole Moretti, Hunter Allain, Leo Quinn and Jaret Simpson.
“All of our seniors contributed to the progress we made over the course of the 2018 season. This senior group, in particular, is a resilient, gritty group that always pushed their teammates to compete. Although our record does not show it, our seniors were crucial in the success and progress we did have in 2018.”
The Lynnfield seniors included the likes of Hunter Allain, Cory Castinetti, Brett Cohee, Cameron Comeau, Marc Cooper, Harry Drislane, Matt Fiore, Jeff Floramo, Sal Marotta, Jack Michalski, Cole Moretti, Salvi Noto, Leo Quinn, Rob Sazo and Jaret Simpson. They will be feted along with their teammates at the annual team banquet on Monday, Dec. 3, at the Lynnfield Middle School, starting at 6:30 p.m.
The off-season begins now, as the returning players begin the process to regain that winning edge.
“Our players will make sure they are getting their work done in the classroom, while also participating in the strength and conditioning program. We do encourage our players to play other sports to keep a competitive mindset, while building athleticism. Overall, the expectation is to get faster and stronger to put us in better position to compete next season,” said Lamusta. “No player is necessarily penciled in for next year. We will find that out this off-season and next August, when we start up formal practices again. We’ll see at that time, which player is prepared and ready to compete at the highest level [after going through the off-season regimen].”