By Dan Harrison
---- — Ipswich High defensive tackle Dakota Petrie had to earn a starting spot on the Tigers’ defense this season.
One of the guys he’s geared up to stop on Thanksgiving morning, Hamilton-Wenham quarterback Jack Clay, had to earn respect after replacing Trevor Lyons, arguably the greatest signal caller in Generals’ football history.
Both seniors have flown under the radar this season, but have each also impressed their respective coaches with high character and relentless passion.
“Dakota has a strong work ethic. He’s worked and willed himself into a starting position,” said Tigers (2-8) head coach Greg Brotherton, whose team will host Hamilton-Wenham (4-6) at Jack Welch Stadium in their annual Turkey Day matchup. “He’s not a kid with a lot of talent, but he has a motor that doesn’t quit. He’s a good kid who loves to play the game.”
Clay, meanwhile, has had the tough task of being the guy to try and fill Lyons’ P.F. Flyers. He doesn’t have the speed or elusiveness of his predecessor, but has shown the ability to manage the game quite nicely.
“Considering he’s a first-year QB who’s thrown for over 1,000 yards, I think it’s remarkable,” said H-W head coach Andrew Morency. “A lot of teams load guys in the box against us and force Jack to beat them. He’s very coachable and learns from his mistakes. He throws to a spot and manages the game very well.”
Petrie plays a far less glamorous position with a job that goes unnoticed to most football fans. As the interior defensive tackle who lines up on the outside shoulder of the opposing guard, his primary obligation is to keep guys off the linebackers.
When teams have tried to block him one-on-one, Petrie has shown the ability to penetrate and blow the play up, forcing most teams to double-team him. That leaves Tigers middle linebacker Derek Chamberlain free to roam and make plays.
“He takes on double teams very well. When people try to take him one-on-one, he usually gets penetration and either makes the play in the backfield or causes it to go outside,” said Brotherton. “We expect him to be in that three-technique tackle -- a sacrificial lamb position who can take two blockers to free up Derek.”
Clay doesn’t throw the football a ton as Hamilton-Wenham has fed senior running back Ian Dickey and, recently, rejuvenated sophomore Cam Macri heavy carries. The Generals’ man under center does have 1,152 passing yards and six touchdowns, though, including a four-touchdown performance in the season opener against arguably the toughest team H-W has faced all season, unbeaten Bishop Fenwick.
Most recently, Clay led the Generals to a big upset victory over Triton, which defeated powerful Masconomet earlier this fall.
“I’ll never forget the way he came out against Fenwick and the way he managed the game against Triton. Jack made no mistakes, was level-headed and came out of there with a big win,” explained Morency. “He’s been a pleasure to coach; I’m going to miss him.”
STARTING LINEUPS IPSWICH Defense No. Name Yr. Pos. 82 Aleks Kuljic Jr. DE 59 Dave Conway Sr. DE 62 Jared Conway Jr. DT 42 Corey Elliot Jr. NG 71 Dakota Petrie Sr. DT 40 Derek Chamberlain Sr. MLB 45 Curtis Levasseur Jr. OLB 52 Matt Carey Jr. OLB 80 Nate Glaster Sr. CB 21 Robbie Glavin Jr. CB 14 Eddie Flaherty Jr. SS 10 Jake Long So. FS Offense No. Name Yr. Pos. 5 Kyle Blomster Sr. QB 40 Derek Chamberlain Sr. RB 80 Nate Glaster Sr. WR 14 Eddie Flaherty Jr. WR 21 Robbie Glavin Jr. WR 82 Aleks Kuljic Jr. WR 74 John Kallas Sr. RT 62 Jared Conway Jr. RG 52 Matt Carey Jr. C 68 Austin Koning Sr. LG 59 Dave Conway Sr. LT HAMILTON-WENHAM STARTING LINEUPS Offense No. Name Yr. Pos. 13 Jack Clay Sr. QB 18 Ian Dickey Sr. TB 40 Pete Duval Sr. FB 88 Alex Rogers Sr TE 55 Nolan Wilson Jr. LT 53 Luke Sprouse Sr. LG 69 Drake Little Sr. C 58 Andrew Cavanaugh Sr. RG 78 James Craig So. RT 10 Christian Ecker Sr. SB 11 Jimmy Campbell Jr. WR Defense No. Name Yr. Pos. 24 Matt Curran Sr. CB 10 Christian Ecker Sr. FS 33 Nathan Rawlins Jr. SS 18 Ian Dickey Sr. CB 40 Pete Duval Sr. LB 52 Chase Brown Jr. ILB 38 Ben McDonald Sr. ROLB 58 Andrew Cavanugh Sr. LOLB 88 Alex Rogers Sr. DE 53 Luke Sprouse Sr. NG 55 Nolan Wilson Jr. DE