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September 26, 2013

Football Focus: Call Them Defensive Masconomet doesn't take offense when you talk about their stingy defense (with videos)

TOPSFIELD — There’s a mantra that Jim Pugh has preached to his Masconomet football teams for almost as long as he’s been at the regional high school.

If you put in the time and work hard, we’ll give you a shot.

It’s what the Chieftains promote to their players, a proverbial carrot dangling in front of players both who want to become full-time starters and those who want to scratch their way into the lineup somehow, someway. It’s particularly true on defense, where Pugh and his staff want to rotate fresh bodies into the mix and give younger players valuable varsity experience with little dropoff in the level of play.

Like most things in life it’s cyclical; how hard the players work and how big, fast and talented they are can change from season to season. But this fall, Pugh believes his defensive charges have all the ingredients, both tangible and intangible, to have a season they’ll long remember in Boxford, Middleton and Topsfield.

Cape Ann League Large play begins tomorrow night for the Chieftains when they welcome league newcomer Saugus High (7 p.m. at Bunker Stadium) into the mix. If Masconomet can control the game defensively by dominating the line of scrimmage and dictating the flow of play, Pugh feels like his team will be in good shape.

“We always feel our defense wins us games,” said Pugh, who has 163 victories in this, his 25th year as Masconomet’s head coach. “We get big plays from our offense, but typically it’s our defense that shuts other teams down.”

That’s exactly what happened in the Chieftains’ last outing a week ago against previously unbeaten Gloucester. Coming off of a lethargic opening night loss at Melrose, Pugh drilled it into his team that they not only had to rid themselves of the turnovers that plagued them in Week 1, but also had to come flying off the ball at the point of attack and own the trenches by being more smashmouth than their foes.

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