They are the last athletic team at the combined North Shore Tech and Essex Aggie to call themselves “Bulldogs;” every other squad at the regional school uses the nickname “Hawks.”
By 4:30 p.m. tomorrow, the school’s football team hopes to have something else all to themselves: the Commonwealth Athletic Conference Small championship.
With strong senior leadership, unexpected contributions from many underclassmen and the ability to learn from their mistakes, the Bulldogs of North Shore Tech/Essex Aggie are one win away from repeating as league champions and heading back to the state playoffs. They’ll host Minuteman tomorrow at Barry Field in Middleton (2 p.m.) for that chance.
”I think we’ve played above expectations, to be blunt,” said veteran head coach Paul Worth, whose club starts seven underclassmen on both sides of the football. “I thought we’d be OK, but I never expected us to grow up as fast as we have.
”(Tomorrow’s) game is everything for us: our Homecoming with a championship on the line. That’s what you play for, games like this.”
North Shore Tech/Essex Aggie is 3-2 overall but 2-0 in league play; Minuteman, back in the CAC this fall after a few years off, is 2-1 in league play and 4-1 overall.
For the Bulldogs, it was a lopsided loss that turned their season around. After winning their opener easily over Tri-County, 33-8, they lost a close game at Blue Hills, 16-7, before travelling to Bishop Fenwick for Week 3. There, the powerful (and unbeaten) Crusaders scored a 41-0 victory — but not before Worth’s club gained some valuable lessons along the way.
”Our kids realized what it really took to play a strong football team,” said Worth. “They’re powerful on offense, have a strong defense and their special teams killed us. But our kids seemed to figure it out that game ... and it’s been Katy bar the door ever since.”