It may see like it’s in the distant future, when in reality it’s hurtling towards us faster than we realize.

Actual regular season games for the 2019 high school football season will begin in 52 days. Those seven-and-a-half weeks are going to go by pretty fast, which is bad news for those who love beach days, longer daylight hours and being on vacation, but great news for fans of the North Shore gridiron scene. (We’re big fans of both camps, for what it’s worth).

So with teams already heavily invested in lifting and running sessions, 7-on-7 leagues and tournaments, and putting the finishing touches on their playbooks, let’s delve into the this year’s football schedules as they pertain to the 13 schools in our readership area.

Right off the bat, you notice there are some big changes. This, from our corner of the football world, is a good thing.

First off, there is an extra week built into the regular season (i.e., pre-playoffs) this year. With eight weekends between Sept. 6 and the start of the postseason on Nov. 1, each team will have at least one bye. For some, that means an extra scrimmage or practices to get ready for the season; for others, it’s a midseason break to rest before the playoff push. 

Then there’s the restructuring of the Northeastern Conference, which has gone from 15 football playing teams back down to 12. Malden, Medford and Somerville are now back as members of the newly reformed Greater Boston League; so is Everett High, but they did not play an NEC football schedule during their tenure in the conference. This happened after the former GBL schools were voted out of the NEC by the latter’s athletic directors in January, and the GBL schools asked in March to leave the NEC at the end of the 2018-19 school year instead of staying another two years. Wish granted.

Revere, which joined the NEC from the GBL a decade before the aforementioned quartet, is also headed back to its former league, but will play an NEC football schedule for the next two years. 

Now, instead of a three-tiered, 15-team football conference, the Northeastern Conference is now back to being split into two divisions of six teams each. 

The NEC North will house Beverly, Danvers, Marblehead, Peabody, Swampscott and Gloucester.

The NEC South will have Salem, Winthrop, Saugus, Revere, Lynn English and Lynn Classical. 

Phil Stacey column: 2019 high school football schedule finds some new faces in new places

Angel Paulino (left), Colby Therrien and the Peabody High football team will face long-time rival Salem High for the first time in five seasons this fall, one of the highlights of the 2019 regular season football schedule.JAIME CAMPOS/Staff photo 

Each Northeastern Conference team will play the other five teams in their division, counting for five of their eight regularly scheduled games (7 before the playoffs begin, plus Thanksgiving Day). This new setup will help rekindle some old rivalries that had gone by the wayside.

Swampscott, for instance, will battle the Beverly Panthers in their 50th meeting but for the for time in five years. The Big Blue go back even further with Danvers; when they clash against the Falcons on Friday, Oct. 11 — that’s right; the lights are finally up at Blocksidge Field, and Swampscott will host night football games regularly — they’ll be doing so for the 87th instance but the first since 2012. Additionally, Peabody and Swampscott will renew acquaintances since their last meeting in 2010.

There will also be some crossover games between the leagues — and certainly topping that list among marquee meetings is Salem taking on Peabody. The two prideful programs, who first began playing each other in 1892 but who haven’t played since each other since 2014, will be meeting for the 99th time when they lock helmets on Friday, Sept. 13 at Coley Lee Field.

There are no such changes forthcoming in the Cape Ann League; Masconomet, North Reading, Pentucket, Triton and Newburyport still comprise the CAL Kinney Division, with Ipswich, Hamilton-Wenham, Amesbury and Lynnfield the four squads in the CAL Baker. Manchester Essex and Georgetown will continue to play independent schedules.

Phil Stacey column: 2019 high school football schedule finds some new faces in new places

St. John's Prep and its quarterback, Matt Crowley, are hoping to find a seventh opponent to take on this fall before the state playoffs begin.JAIME CAMPOS/Staff photo 

St. John’s Prep currently has just six regular season games prior to the playoffs. That’s because Everett — which played the Eagles every year from 2007 on — dropped St. John’s Prep from its schedule in March and replaced them with Brockton. That’s left the Prep scrambling to find an opponent for Sept. 27 or 28, which despite looking both in the Bay State and beyond (as far out as Maryland), they’ve been unable to do.

There are also some juicy new matchups that fans will want to check out this fall.

Bishop Fenwick will host powerful Stoneham on opening night (Sept. 6) at Donaldson Field; their only other meeting came in last year’s playoffs, in which the eventual Division 6 North champion Spartans rolled to a 48-20 win. Another inaugural matchup for the Crusaders will take place in Week 3 when Wilmington comes to Fenwick on Sept. 20.

Another first-time-ever meeting in Week 2 takes place with Marblehead travelling up to the Merrimack Valley to take on North Andover on Sept. 13. 

Ipswich will have back-to-back weeks against first time foes when they travel to Dilboy Stadium to take on host Somerville on Saturday, Oct 5. Six days later, they’ll welcome Milton High (led by former Swampscott head coach Steve Dembowski) to Jack Welch Field. On those same two dates, Hamilton-Wenham will host Malden (2 p.m.), then head out to Metro West to take on Ashland High on Friday, Oct. 11. They, too, are both first-time foes for the Generals.

Another that fits into that category is Essex Tech’s contest against KIPP Academy — a charter school out of Lynn — on Friday, Oct. 25 at home.

Bishop Fenwick has the only scheduled night-before Thanksgiving contest scheduled; they’ll travel to Brother Gilbert Field in Malden to take on host Malden Catholic at 6 p.m. after playing St. Mary’s of Lynn on (or the night before) the holiday the last few years. Fenwick and St. Mary’s are still scheduled to face off against each other, only this time it’ll be in Lynn on Saturday night, Oct. 5.

Lastly, we’re seeing fewer Saturday games that at any time in North Shore football history. With Swampscott installing permanent lights, that leaves only two schools in our readership area without lights: Beverly and Hamilton-Wenham. As of this writing, only a dozen contests are scheduled to take place on what used to be the pantheon of the high school sports calendar: Saturday afternoons.

In high school football, as in life, the times-they-are-a-changin’. 

¢¢¢

Phil Stacey is the Executive Sports Editor of The Salem News. Contact him at pstacey@salemnews.com and follow him on Twitter @PhilStacey_SN

2019 NORTH SHORE HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL SCHEDULE

(schedules subject to change)

FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 6

Beverly at Winthrop, 7

Danvers at Masconomet, 7

Ipswich at Amesbury, 7

Stoneham at Bishop Fenwick, 7

Bridgewater-Raynham at St. John’s Prep, 7

SATURDAY, SEPT. 7

No games scheduled

FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 13

Salem at Peabody, 7

Marblehead at North Andover, 7

Lynn English at Swampscott, 7

Pentucket at Ipswich, 7

Essex Tech at Austin Prep, 7

SATURDAY, SEPT. 14

Bishop Fenwick at Hamilton-Wenham, 1

St. John’s Prep at Haverhill, 2

FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 20

Swampscott at Salem, 7

Lynn Classical at Danvers, 7

Gloucester at Marblehead, 7

Peabody at Revere, 7

Wilmington at Bishop Fenwick, 7

St. John’s Prep at Central Catholic, 7

Malden Catholic at Masconomet, 7

Ipswich at Newburyport, 7

Hamilton-Wenham at North Reading, 7

SATURDAY, SEPT. 21

Essex Tech at Whittier, 10:30 a.m.

Lynn English at Beverly, 1

Pingree at Kingswood-Oxford, 5

FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 27

Bishop Fenwick vs. Arlington Catholic at Hormel Stadium, Medford, 6:30

Lynn English at Salem, 7

Gloucester at Peabody, 7

Winthrop at Danvers, 7

Masconomet at Amesbury, 7

Greater Lowell at Essex Tech, 7

SATURDAY, SEPT. 28

Marblehead at Saugus, 11 a.m.

Swampscott at Beverly, 1

Pentucket at Hamilton-Wenham, 1

Pingree at St. Paul’s, 3

FRIDAY, OCTOBER 4

Beverly at Marblehead, 7

Danvers at Peabody, 7

Salem at Lynn Classical, 7

Winthrop at Swampscott, 7

Masconomet at North Reading, 7

Greater Lawrence at Essex Tech, 7

St. John’s Prep at Westford Academy, 7

SATURDAY, OCTOBER 5

Ipswich at Somerville, 2

Malden at Hamilton-Wenham, 2

Bishop Fenwick at St. Mary’s Lynn, 7

FRIDAY, OCTOBER 11

Peabody at Marblehead, 7

Beverly at Gloucester, 7

Danvers at Swampscott, 7

Saugus at Salem, 7

Triton at Masconomet, 7

Milton at Ipswich, 7

Hamilton-Wenham at Ashland, 7

Essex Tech at Georgetown, 7

SATURDAY, OCTOBER 12

Catholic Memorial at St. John’s Prep, 2

Pingree at Wilbraham & Monson, 3:30

FRIDAY, OCTOBER 18

Lynnfield at Ipswich, 6

Peabody at Swampscott, 7

Revere at Marblehead, 7

Salem at Winthrop, 7

Pentucket at Masconomet, 7

Hamilton-Wenham at Amesbury, 7

Shawsheen at Essex Tech, 7

SATURDAY, OCTOBER 19

Danvers at Beverly, 1

Bishop Fenwick at Cardinal Spellman, 1

St. John’s Prep at BC High, 2

King (Conn.) at Pingree, 5

FRIDAY, OCTOBER 25

Archbishop Williams at Bishop Fenwick, 6

Beverly at Peabody, 7

Marblehead at Danvers, 7

Salem at Revere, 7

Swampscott at Gloucester, 7

Newburyport at Masconomet, 7

Hamilton-Wenham at Lynnfield, 7

Ipswich at Triton, 7

KIPP Academy at Essex Tech, 7

SATURDAY, OCTOBER 26

Pingree at New Hampton, 5

FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 1

Pingree at Portsmouth Abbey, 3

Sectional playoff quarterfinals (TBA)

SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 2

Sectional playoff quarterfinals (TBA)

FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 8

Sectional playoff semifinals (TBA)

SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 9

Dexter at Pingree, 5

Sectional playoff semifinals (TBA)

FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 15

Sectional playoff finals (TBA)

SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 16

Sectional playoff finals (TBA)

WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 27

Bishop Fenwick at Malden Catholic, 6

THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 28

Beverly at Salem, 10 a.m.

Danvers at Gloucester, 10 a.m.

Swampscott at Marblehead, 10 a.m.

Peabody at Saugus, 10 a.m.

Hamilton-Wenham at Ipswich, 10 a.m.

Masconomet at Everett, 10 a.m.

Essex Tech at Northeast, 10 a.m.

Xaverian at St. John’s Prep, 10:15 a.m.

||||

Recommended for you