The 2011 Division 3A Super Bowl runner up Hamilton-Wenham Generals believe there’s no better football team to come through the Cape Ann League Small over the last decade.
The 2006 Division 3A Super Bowl Champion Ipswich High Tigers would beg to differ.
Both teams have a legitimate claim as the best CAL Small team of the last decade — and for very similar reasons. The Tigers finished 11-2 but won the Super Bowl, while Hamilton-Wenham went 11-1, falling only to Bourne High in the championship game. H-W’s one loss does come with a caveat; junior quarterback Trevor Lyons, who was the focal point of the offense, went down with an injury in the second quarter and did not return.
However, when it comes to the Tigers’ two losses, it’s important to note their opponents: much bigger schools Wilmington (by 2 points) and Masconomet (by 1 point), plus the fact that the 2011 H-W team didn’t play either of those squads.
The Tigers and Generals share more than just 11-win seasons. Both boasted ferocious versions of the 3-4 defense, had loads of senior experience and were led by a stud player on offense: running back Steve Phaneuf for Ipswich and the aforementioned Lyons for Hamilton-Wenham. Even the head coaches, H-W’s Andrew Morency and Ipswich’s Ted Flaherty, spent time coaching together at Beverly High in the early 2000s under Dan Bauer.
No one will ever know how the game would play out if the ‘06 Tigers and ‘11 Generals squared off — but it sure is fun to speculate.
“I would pick us because of the sheer number of talented football players on our team,” said Flaherty, who was a senior for Ipswich when the Tigers and Generals first played on Thanksgiving in 1975. “We had 14 really good football players and I think (the Generals) were in the 8-10 (talented player) range. I thought we had a little bit more depth, a few more one-way players and more speed. Trevor (Lyons) was fast, but top to bottom I thought we had more experience and faster people.”