If the sports adage is true that the playoffs are what we remember most, then it was certainly a good school year to be playing for a school in Danvers.
St. John’s Prep and Danvers High, both located in the 01923 zip code, topped our annual list of the top performers by school in the various MIAA state tournaments. The Eagles’ collective athletic programs went 16-8 in postseason play, just edging out the Faclons’ mark of 15-9 for tops in the area.
This is the fifth year we’ve tabulated these results, jokingly known as ‘The Willies’ around Salem News headquarters. To do so, we add up the records of all the area schools playing in sports that sponsor a traditional state tournament: boys and girls soccer, field hockey, volleyball, boys and girls basketball, boys and girls hockey, boys and girls tennis, boys and girls lacrosse, baseball and softball.
Then, for no reason other than curiosity and to award arbitrary bragging rights, we compare them.
It doesn’t take a genius to figure out how St. John’s Prep had so much success: the Eagles’ soccer and baseball teams made it to the Division 1 North final, and their hockey team made the Super 8 semifinals.
In Danvers, the drive was led by North final appearances by the Falcons’ boys hockey and baseball squads, and of course the boys basketball team’s second consecutive Division 3 state title.
The other schools with winning postseason records were Ipswich (9-6), Masconomet (13-11), Swampscott (9-8) and Marblehead (10-9). (It should be noted that to keep things simple, we put co-operative programs with their host school. For example, for girls hockey Marblehead/Swampscott counts for Marblehead, and the Ipswich players skating for the Rockport hockey team aren’t included since we don’t directly cover the Vikings.)
What is the strongest North Shore sport? This year it was baseball. The local seamheads had a combined state tournament record (all teams in our coverage area’s baseball playoff mark added together) of 15-7. That number was driven by three North finalists (St. John’s, Danvers and Masconomet) and an unprecedented six squads that won 15 games or more.