Hamilton-Wenham football team is off and running
Just 66 seconds into play, Trevor Lyons was off to the races with a 47-yard touchdown run against Manchester-Essex last Friday night.
It was just the start of another explosive performance from the Hamilton-Wenham rushing attack, which added three more scores in a 35-6 win over their Cape Ann/Northeastern Conference Division 4 rival.
In its 6-0 start, Hamilton-Wenham is averaging 274 yards rushing per game. Lyons (50 points), a junior quarterback, and senior back Elliot Burr (44) are piling up the scoring numbers, due in large part to the work of their hard-working teammates in the trenches.
Tackle to tackle, the Generals line up Taylor Drinkwater (6-foot-4, 220 pounds), Shane Jenkins (6-2, 255), Matt Vogus (6-3, 220), Kevin “Larry’’ Anthony (6-0, 190), and Ryan Foringer (6-1, 205).
“We joke around with Elliot and Trevor all the time, like ‘you guys better thank us after that hit,’ ’’ said Anthony, a captain and one of four seniors on the line. “When we do our job, we expect our running backs to make big plays.’’
“We have pretty good size but beyond that, they move very well,’’ said coach Andrew Morency, in his sixth season. “One of the benefits of having some of the athletes we have is we can run plays at different angles, at different times. We can move toward a certain attack point and safely have a guard or tackle pulling.’’
“It’s really hard to defend us because you never know which way we’re going to go,’’ said Lyons, who has racked up 683 total rushing yards, including five touchdowns rushing against Bishop Fenwick. “I have one of the best offensive lines in the North Shore.’’
The 6-foot, 200-pound Burr (601 yards rushing) said there is always “a nice 3-foot hole in front of you so you don’t have to worry about getting tackled until you get to the second tier, where the guys are a little smaller. “It works to my advantage because even when they hit me I can drag them for a couple more yards.’’
Like every H-W foe this season, Manchester-Essex could not figure out how to outsmart the Generals’ imposing line. Communication and trust is the key to adjusting to different defensive strategies.
“We all communicate really well on the offensive line,’’ said Anthony. “Which is really important because now that we have established a good running game, teams start blitzing us and changing up packages trying to fool us.’’
“I think a lot of it is also trust,’’ said Vogus. “If Shane or Larry [Anthony] pull, they have to trust me to block back for them. Without that trust and communication, it wouldn’t be possible.’’
Anthony’s nickname “Larry’’ has stuck with him since the third grade when he first started playing football. He is even announced as “Larry Anthony’’ at home games.
Scott Burnham, the Generals‘ defensive coordinator, was Anthony’s coach at the time and he mistakenly called him “Larry.’’
“When he was a [Pop Warner] C-teamer he was so obnoxious,’’ said Burnham. “He was the youngest and he took up so much time and energy from us coaches that the only thing that came out of my mouth was ‘Larry’ and he’s been Larry since that day forward.’’
With four seniors on the line, experience is also an important ingredient to the Generals’ success.
“Four of us started last year so we all know what we’re doing,’’ said Jenkins. “If something happens that we didn’t notice in film or weren’t expecting, if guys are lined up a certain way or blitz certain ways, we just let [coach] know what plays to call.’’
“They are a heady group,’’ said Morency. “They give me feedback during the game; it’s like having a few coaches on the field.’’
This year the captains saw a lot more of their teammates dedicating themselves to lifting in the offseason, and the effects those workouts have had on the line are evident.
“We had captains’ practices and there was a lot more attendance than in years past,’’ said Anthony. “Pretty much every single kid on our team lifted this past year. It was a big part of our offseason.’’
For Vogus, the only junior on the offensive line, having seniors on his flanks helped him take control at center and become a leader in his own right.
“Matt has done a great job for us,’’ said Morency. “He has to be vocal at center and has stepped in very nice, not only with his actual play but his ability to adapt and communicate.’’
“He’s really fast running the snaps, he always knows the right snap count to go on,’’ said Lyons. “Every day before practice he snaps me the shotgun. We have good chemistry together.’’
“At the beginning of the season, we talked about the offensive line and running backs as being our strengths,’’ said Morency. “It has allowed us to control clock and play field position.’’
And the Generals do so with confidence, with no hesitation to go for it on fourth-and-short.
“These guys get along; they are able to communicate,’’ said Morency. “They have been out there for every single snap. Our offensive line can only resonate to everybody else, especially when running we’re running the ball at all levels.’’
The Generals earned their first playoff berth last year after a perfect 6-0 run through the Cape Ann League (Small). This year they are in the fourth tier of the Northeastern Conference-Cape Ann League and have their sights set on another trip to the Division 3A postseason. Up next is a trip to Lynnfield Saturday morning.
“Our seniors know we’re not going to get a lot of chances to play after this season,’’ said Burr. “We come out looking like every game is our last.’’
Carper ‘bugs’ Governor’s foes
Governor’s Academy improved to 5-0 with a 35-14 win over St. Mark’s on Saturday. Sophomore Andrew “Bug’’ Carper ran for 125 yards, including a 76-yard touchdown, and junior Austin Smith picked off a pair of passes for the Governors. Junior quarterback Tate Jozokos (8 touchdown passes) directs an offense that is averaging 37 points per game.
Milestone reached at Central Catholic
After being stuck at 99 wins since Sept. 23d, Central Catholic head coach Chuck Adamopoulos reached the 100-win benchmark with a 36-0 win over Lawrence in front of 3,000 fans at the Raiders’ homecoming Friday night. He is 100-58 in 15 years at Central.