HAMILTON — Jerry the General, the mascot for Hamilton-Wenham Regional High School, looks like he should be leading a platoon of ground troops to victory.
On Saturday, though, Hamilton-Wenham’s football team gave him a reason to trade in olive drab for Air Force blues.
Senior QB Ian Coffey and the Generals took to the air to earn their first win of the 2019 season, 35-7, over visiting Malden on a sunny afternoon at the high school. Coffey threw for three touchdowns and all three went at least 30 yards in the air with the deep strike doing the majority of the damage for the winners.
“It’s so helpful to know you can get those deep throws when you need them, help you move the ball down the field,” said Coffey, who completed 10-of-15 passes for 188 yards. “It was a great day. The line gave me great time to throw and the receivers caught it. That’s all you can ask for.”
Junior Ryan Monahan was on the receiving end of two those of those long bombs: The first was a 49-yarder off play action on H-W’s first drive of the game and the second was a 36-yarder over the top on a 4th down play in the third quarter.
“We were really able to put the ball in the air. Ian made some great throws,” said Monahan, who had five grabs for 130 yards and out-leaped a defender for another highlight reel grab. “We really improved as a team this week. It’s a big step forward and I think we can keep it going.”
Monahan offered more than offensive prowess. He was responsible for two of his team’s five total turnovers, making a pair of interceptions. Linebacker Max Lech also had an interception and Marty Cooke and Chris Domoracki both fell on fumbles as the Generals’ defense used a plus-five in the turnover department to ensure they’d top the Golden Tornadoes.
Three of those turnovers came in the second half, where H-W outscored Malden (0-4) by a 21-0 margin to put away what was a 14-7 game at halftime.
“That was a big difference for our first three games. We were in all three games and kind of lost in the third and fourth quarters,” said H-W head coach Jim Pugh, whose team lost to three teams (Bishop Fenwick, Pentucket and North Reading) that are all still undefeated. “This was the best second half we’ve played.”
The Generals used some razzle-dazzle to get on track early in the third. Their first play was a double-reverse pass that Tristan McCarthy lofted to Coffey for a 60-yard gain, which set up Colby Cala’s 4-yard score and the home team’s first multi-score lead of the game.
“That was a huge momentum shift,” Coffey said of his chunk catch-and-run. “We finished that drive like we needed to and that was a big point in the game for us.”
McCarthy also hauled in a 46-yard score in the opening quarter as H-W regained the lead after Malden’s Jamari Youman caught a 37-yard score from Jerry Mervil for Malden’s only points.
The Golden Tornadoes didn’t allow H-W much running room, holding the Generals to 60 yards on the ground and precious few first downs. In response, Coffey and the Generals pushed the ball down the field on play-fakes and deep fly- and crossing patterns, with success coming in the form of five completions of at least 30 yards; three of those went to Monahan with McCarthy and Coffey grabbing one each.
“There are plenty of options to chose from and that’s helps me out as a QB a lot,” said Coffey, who added a rushing touchdown in the fourth for four total scores.
Defensively, Finn Brophy and Costas Savignano had big games for the Generals and Chance Augustin had a bevy of tackles. Sophomore Zach Walles made all five of his extra points and Cooke and Lech added QB sacks.
“We knew the scores weren’t doing justice to the way we played in our first three games,” Coffey added. “We felt like if we played a full game, we’d be able to play with anybody, and this was as close to a full game as we’ve played all year.”