The Salem News
---- — NORTH ANDOVER — How easy it would have been for the members of the Masconomet football team to look past yesterday’s annual Thanksgiving clash with North Andover and start thinking about next Tuesday’s playoff foe, mighty Everett High.
The Chieftains’ senior class wouldn’t let them, however.
Dominant from the game’s opening kickoff, Masconomet displayed laser-like focus in rolling out to a five-touchdown lead before eventually finishing with a 35-14 triumph over the host Scarlet Knights at Walsh Stadium.
“Eric Bunker, who coaches with us, talked to the seniors about his senior year here (2006) and how we made the playoffs, but lost to North Andover on the holiday. He gave them a great talk about what needed to happen (yesterday) and how they didn’t want to go into the playoffs on a loss,” said Masconomet (9-2) head coach Jim Pugh, whose squad defeated the Scarlet Knights for the fifth time in the last six seasons and eighth time in the last 11.
“So our seniors came out and were fired up. We were really happy our senior class kept the focus on North Andover. There was no looking past them towards the playoffs.”
The Chieftains scored on five of their six possessions before calling off the dogs and sending the junior varsity in. North Andover’s two touchdowns came late in the game, long after the outcome had been decided.
Andrew Swim got things started for the Chieftains by picking off a Scarlet Knights pass on the game’s opening series. Seventy yards later, Mike Tivinis crashed into the end zone from four yards out and Casey Tines booted the extra point.
In the second quarter, North Andover fumbled and the Chieftains went back to work. This time, senior captain Dylan Mann — recently named the Northeastern Conference/Cape Ann League’s Tier 1 Most Valuable Player — crashed over the goal line on a another 4-yard TD run.
“Dylan’s had a tremendous year,” said Pugh of Mann, who finished with 85 yards rushing on just four carries. “He was crushing people defensively and had another great game on offense, including a 60-yard run on a pass play that set up (Tivinis’) score.”
The backbreaker for North Andover came late in the first half. Freshman quarterback Matt Driscoll, playing in place of starter Casey Walsh (who was suspended for disciplinary reasons), threw an interception into the waiting arms of Sean Antonuccio. The Masconomet senior defensive end proceeded to take it 53 yards to the house, giving the Red-and-White a commanding 21-0 halftime edge.
“That touchdown was the turning point,” said Pugh. “Sean’s just a great player. That one was the difference.”
For good measure, Masconomet added two more touchdowns in the third quarter as its lead swelled to 35 points. Three plays into the third quarter, quarterback Chris Schleer (5 for 6, 168 yards) fired a 60-yard scoring pass to Corey Tines. After a North Andover punt, Mann cut loose on a 73-yard TD scamper.
“We were overmatched today,” North Andover coach John Raftery said, whose team finished the year 4-6. (Masconomet) got the job done, and we wish them success in the playoffs.”
Masconomet 9, North Andover 0
at The Hawk Bowl, Westwood
Masconomet (9-2) 7 14 14 0 — 35
North Andover (4-6) 0 0 0 14 — 14
M-Mike Tivinis 4 run (Casey Tines kick)
M-Dylan Mann 4 run (Casey Tines kick)
M-Sean Antonuccio (Casey Tines kick)
M-Corey Tines 60 pass from Chris Schleer (Casey Tines kick)
M-Mann 73 run (Casey Tines kick)
NA-Nick Oswald 9 run (Ryan Quinn kick)
NA-Oswald 3 run (Quinn kick)
RUSHING: Masconomet — Dylan Mann 4-85, Austin Cashin 4-17, Gavin Monagle 6-16, Mike Tivinis 6-14, Casey Tines 1-5, Chris Schleer 1-4, Drew Steinberg 1-(-2), David Drigo 1-(-2), Rob DeSchenes 4-(-12); North Andover — Nick Oswald 28-133, Tom Stabile 4-15, Robert Shkilew 3-9, Matt Driscoll 1-(-4).
PASSING: Masconomet — Schleer 5-6-168-1-0; North Andover — Matt Driscoll 8-10-152-0-2.
RECEIVING: Masconomet — Corey Tines 2-62, Mann 1-60, Troy Bunker 2-46; North Andover — Tyler Whitley 2-79, Shkilew 3-44, Matt Iannone 2-25, Dylan Petrovich 1-5.
you ought to know Quarterback Chris Schleer had a near-perfect day for the Chieftains, leading them on scoring drives five times in their first six possessions while completing 5 of 6 passes, good for 168 yards. In addition to his 60-yard touchdown pass to Corey Tines, he hit Dylan Mann for a 70-yard pass and hooked up with Troy Bunker for 50 yards The Masconomet first team defense hasn't allowed any points in its last 10 quarters of play, dating back to the first quarter of their game vs. Lynn English in Week 9. Both of North Andover's scores yesterday came against the Chieftains' backups. Head coach Jim Pugh on defensive end Sean Antonuccio, who had a 53-yard interception return for a score yesterday: "He's fast, quick, strong and can jump. His pick sealed it for us." The Chieftains' opponent in Tuesday's Division 1A playoff semifinals, mighty Everett High, didn't play a Thanksgiving Day game, so many of the Crimson Tide members were on hand to watch Masco yesterday.