SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

Local News

November 16, 2013

Baker, Pope having terrific seasons

Two local football players are having great seasons at Union College in Schenectady, N.Y. Swampscott’s Andrew ‘A.J.’ Baker is a sophomore wide receiver while Beverly’s David Pope, who attended St. John’s Prep, is a sophomore kicker and field goal specialist.

Last week the Dutchmen beat Merchant Marines, 27-14, as Baker caught a 60-yard touchdown pass and Pope kicked field goals of 28 and 31 yards.

“Baker has good speed and jumping ability to go up and make the catch,” said head coach John Audino. “His versatility includes work returning punts and kicks.”

Baker, a political science major, is the leading punt returner on the team with 13 for 111 yards. He has also caught 18 passes for 249 yards. Pope is majoring in economics and is 20-for-23 on PATs with 39 kickoffs and nine field goals.

Union hosts Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute this weekend looking for its fourth win of the season.

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Steve Czarnecki has decided to step down from his cross country coaching job at Bishop Fenwick, a job he’s held since 2002.

His last event is today, watching Arianna Maida run at the All-State Meet for the fourth year.

“This is it for me,” said Czarnecki. I think it’s time after 30 years coaching between Fenwick and Salem State. I’ve been very blessed to work with some great people and outstanding athletes, both at the college and high school level.”

Czarnecki served as an assistant coach under Carl DiMaiti for several years before taking over as head coach of Fenwick’s indoor and outdoor teams in 1983.

The Crusaders’ track coaching staff will be brand new, because winter and spring coach Jay Smith resigned a few weeks ago.

“Fenwick has a great program with fantastic facilities,” said Czarnecki. “Nobody has a cross country course like ours. Indoors the kids run at the Reggie Lewis Center (in Roxbury), and outdoors we have one of the few 8-lane tracks around. It was a hard decision for me, but in the long run I felt it was time to go.”

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