LYNNFIELD — You’re the underdog and on the road. Making the task even more difficult, the opposing team is on the verge of clinching a league title.
When you’re in that position, as the Hamilton-Wenham football team was Saturday against Lynnfield, you’d better play your best ball of the season.
Hamilton-Wenham might have been mentally ready for the major challenge against the undefeated Pioneers, but it didn’t translate on the field as Lynnfield (6-0) detonated for 21 points in the third quarter and ran away with it, 34-0, securing the Cape Ann League Small championship for the third time in five years.
It wasn’t a poor effort by the Generals (2-4), but it was mistake-filled. Two interceptions and a fumble considerably dampened the threat, and an 86-yard kickoff return for a touchdown by Lynnfield’s Ryan Battaglia to open the second half (making it 20-0) made the upset bid look unrealistic.
“Lynnfield has done that all year, so my hat’s off to them,” said Hamilton-Wenham coach Andrew Morency. “You make a mistake and they’re going to make you pay.
“Teams have kind of hung around with Lynnfield, but then they explode. That’s the sign of a good team.”
Lynnfield coach Neal Weidman seemed genuinely surprised by the margin of victory.
“People will look at the final score and think it was (a big mismatch), but it wasn’t like that,” said Weidman. “Hamilton-Wenham is one of the most competitive teams we play. They want to win, they have the drive, and the coach is super competitive. The fact that our kids had that in mind going into the game was big for us.”
Despite trailing 13-0 at intermission on a 24-yard scoring run by the Pioneers’ Matt Kramich and a 5-yard scamper by Kyle McGah (capping a 12-play, 93-yard drive), a Hamilton-Wenham comeback was not out of the question. Led by senior Ian Dickey (18 carries, 101 yards), the Generals displayed a solid running game and senior quarterback Jack Clay’s short passing game was on target early in the game.