By Phil Stacey Sports editor
The Salem News
---- — HAMILTON — There is nothing fancy about what the Lynnfield High football team does.
The Pioneers alternate running the ball between shifty Kyle McGah and their elusive quarterback, Mike Karavetsos, mixing in the occasional out pass. Defensively, they’re tough as nails and have a front seven that makes it very difficult to run against.
And oh yeah, they win quite frequently, too.
That was the case once again Saturday afternoon as host Hamilton-Wenham scored early but couldn’t find the scoreboard again until late in the contest, falling 25-14 to the Pioneers.
“They deserved to win,” Hamilton-Wenham head coach Andrew Morency said of Lynnfield, which had three times as many rushing yards as his team had Saturday and a large advantage in time of possession. “They’re tough, and like any good football team, they capitalized on our mistakes.
“They limited us on plays that can sometimes go for 10 or 15 yards. They’d give us five yards here, seven yards there, but never let us break a big one.”
The loss, Hamilton-Wenham’s third in eight games this season, dropped them to 1-1 in Northeastern Conference/Cape Ann League Tiger 4 play heading into Friday’s game at North Reading (6-1 overall, 2-0 league).
Trailing by six points (12-6) at halftime, the Generals ran just three offensive plays in the third quarter as Lynnfield dominated the ball and the clock. That continued into the final stanza; with less than five minutes to play, Hamilton-Wenham had still only had the ball for eight offensive plays in the half.
“Every year they have a good team and it’s a battle every time we play them,” said Lynnfield head coach Neal Weidman, his team 2-0 in Tier 4 and 6-2 on the season.
“The game plan against them has to be contain them on offense and keep it out of 12’s (Lyons’) hands. That’s how you have to beat them; eventually, (Lyons) will do something great with the ball if you give him enough chances.”
The Generals had momentum on their side early on when captain Trevor Lyons (155 yards passing) found junior end Christian Ecker for a 15-yard scoring pass and a 6-0 lead. But Lynnfield responded with a 17-play drive that took nearly eight minutes to complete as Karavetsos scrambled in from five yards out to tie the game. He would lead all ballcarriers with 142 yards rushing Saturday.
On its next possession, Hamilton-Wenham fumbled the football away. “We needed points there. You could feel the momentum swing over to them at that point — and stay with them,” Morency said.
While the Pioneers didn’t score there, they did minutes later when Tyler Palumbo returned an interception 29 yards for a score, giving his club a 12-6 halftime lead.
When McGah took it in from a yard out three plays into the fourth quarter, the Generals had to modify their offense in an attempt to get back in the game. But another interception, followed by a 34-yard scoring run off a trap by McGah, gave Lynnfield a commanding 25-6 advantage.
“They ball controlled us,” Morency said. “They get (Karavetsos) and (McGah) going in sync and going downhill against you and just take the momentum from you.”
The Generals fought gamely, racing downfield behind six consecutive completions by Lyons culminating in a 9-yard scoring slant to Ecker. Pete Duval’s 2-point conversion catch cut the deficit to 11 points, but the Pioneers fell on the ensuing onside kick attempt.
Senior two-way lineman Matt Vogus had another outstanding day in the trenches for Hamilton-Wenham, which plays at 6-1 North Reading on Friday night (7 p.m.).