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October 21, 2010

Stepping forward: Ipswich, Georgetown trying to make the turn in CAL Small showdown

IPSWICH — Injuries are as much a part of high school football as punts and penalties, but their sting tends to linger a little longer for the small schools.

Ipswich and Georgetown are two of those small schools currently trying to overcome depleted rosters, and the winner of their Cape Ann League Small battle set for tomorrow night (7 p.m.) at Jack Welch Stadium in Ipswich will be in great position to turn the corner toward a successful season.

When a player from a small high school goes down to injury coaches aren't filling one hole, they're filling two or three. Small school football is iron man at its best, when the fullback is also a middle linebacker who occupies a space somewhere on special teams as well.

Any inconsistency shown by 3-3 Ipswich and 1-4 Georgetown so far this season can be directly traced back to hurt players, but right now the health of both teams is improving and, not coincidentally, so is their on-field performance.

Ipswich has been forced to battle through the injuries sustained by key players Jake LeBlanc, John Eldredge and John Elnagger, but still the Tigers are in position to move one game above .500 for the first time this late in the season since their Super Bowl year of 2006.

"To be honest, it's been pretty difficult," said Ipswich coach Ted Flaherty, who once again does have the services of LeBlanc on the defensive line after returning from a sprained ankle last week. "We've had key injuries on offense and defense and I think that's why we've been inconsistent. But on the other hand, anyone who coaches has to deal with that. There's always a silver lining and overcoming that adversity is a part of a great thing that can happen. In a one-week span you can go from being totally flat (in a 41-2 loss to Pentucket) to playing inspired a week later (in a 23-0 win over Manchester Essex)."

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