Pinkerton pounds Bedford to win state title

DURHAM, N.H. — Bryson Pacocha, the mountain of a man, was reduced to a pile of emotions.
The hulking 6-foot-3, 230-pound monster knelt on the ground, tears flowing uncontrollably down his face and onto the Cowell Stadium turf as his teammate jumped for joy and took turns hugging him.
“I have never felt anything like this,” said the senior lineman. “I had to win, we had to win. It hurt me inside to lose those last three title games, so we had to have this. Tears started coming and I had no way to stop them. I just couldn’t believe it. We are No. 1!”
After three seasons of heartbreak, Pinkerton returned to its traditional throne atop the New Hampshire football world, pummeling fellow unbeaten Bedford 37-0 to take home the Division 1 state championship Saturday night at the University of New Hampshire.
“Feels amazing,” said Astros quarterback Jack Hanaway, who lives in Bedford. “After so much heartbreak, to go out and not just win it but take it by 37 points is terrific. You can’t even measure how much we wanted this one. We have worked for this for four years, we were so committed and we went out today and we did it.”
It was especially meaningful for the Astros after losing the last three Division 1 state title games, twice to Exeter and one to Concord.
“There is no better words than (state title),” said tri-captain Justin Poitras. “We went through the disappointment, but we used it as fuel. When we stepped into this game, losing  was not an option. We didn’t consider it.
“Those last three years in the state title game were the worst feeling, and this, winning the title, is the best.”
And the Astros didn’t just win the title, they demolished Bedford on the way to the championship and a perfect 12-0 season.
“This is an undefeated team we took on,” said Pacocha. “But we came out and we pounded them. And we just kept pounding and we didn’t stop until we had the scoreboard up and the time was ticking down. Once we got there we knew we were going to be state champions.”
Urbanik delivers
It was another marvelous day for Astros running back T.J. Urbanik, who ran over and past Bedford on the way to a stunning 247 yards on 21 carries and a pair of touchdowns including a 94-yard masterpiece.
As a defensive back, Urbanik also grabbed a pair of interceptions as the Astros took a commanding 23-0 halftime advantage.
“What a fantastic day,” said Urbanik, a junior. “I never could have imagined I would have this kind of day. Everyone on this team is a hero to me. The interceptions were big because they gave us momentum out of the gates.
“Our plan was to run the ball and just pound them. We were going to get physical. On the (94-yard) score I saw a perfect hole and just turned on the jets.”
But Urbanik wasn’t alone in the utter domination.
Hanaway, facing his hometown school, rushed for three touchdowns including a highlight-reel score in which he was hammered by a pair of defenders, but somehow managed to split them, stay on his feet and waltz into the end zone.
“We were so focused and so dedicated to finishing this off,” said the QB, who needed to throw the ball just four times. “We felt like that was a good team, but we were able to get out fast and we finished strong like we always have.
“T.J.’s 94-yard touchdown was incredible and really sealed the game for us. He was terrific.”
Defense dominates back-up
As dominant as the offense was, the defense was just as unstoppable.
The Astros allowed Bedford 130 yards of total offense, including just 43 on the ground on 19 tries.
Missing star QB Mike Vailas, who was lost for the season with an injury early in the postseason, Bulldogs backup Tyler Cibotti was overmatched by the attack of the Astros. Cibotti, who had been moved from wide receiver, was limited to just 8 of 23 passing with three interceptions (Urbanik 2, Brett Datillo).
Senior linebacker Peter Cyr led the Pinkerton defense with eight tackles, while Michael Martinoli made five stops.
Pacocha had the lone sack of the game, bursting through the middle to envelop Cibotti for a 12-yard loss. He also utilized his impressive length to knock down two passes.
“It is crazy,” said Cyr. “We always felt like this day would come, but we didn’t know when. We had the chance today and we took hold of it. We had to stop the cycle of losing title games. We were confident and we were ready to go. Getting those three interceptions was huge.”
Tremendous start
Pinkerton wasted no time taking charge, as Urbanik picked off his first pass of the day on the game’s third play. Eight plays later he gave the Astros the lead with a 15-yard touchdown run.
A three-and-out later and Pinkerton was back in control, adding to their lead with a Kyle Cantalupo 36-yard field goal.
The defensive stops kept coming, and Hanaway made it 17-0 by first hitting Austin Whitehead on a 17-yard pass to the 1-yard line, then diving in for a score.
Any hope of a Bedford rally was squashed when Dattilo picked off a pass and Hanaway rushed for another touchdown just before halftime.
“We have been waiting for this day our whole lives,” said Hanaway. “When we started playing football as 7-year-olds we dreamed of this. Doing this the last game of our high school careers is pretty great.”
The Astros then enjoyed a long celebration on the UNH field before escaping the cold.
“Best thing in the world,” said Poitras. “We have wanted this for so many years, and now we have finally done it. It’s just the best.”

Pinkerton 37, Bedford 0
First Quarter
P — T.J. Urbanik 15 run (Kyle Cantalupo kick), 7:34
P — Cantalupo 36 field goal, 4:37
Second Quarter
P — Jack Hanaway 1 run (Cantalupo kick), 8:18
P — Hanaway 18 run (kick failed), 0:27
Third Quarter
P — Urbanik 94 run (Cantalupo kick), 0:07
Fourth Quarter
P — Hanaway 4 run (Cantalupo kick), 6:10
RUSHING: Pinkerton (57-375) — T. J. Urbanik 21-247, Michael Curley 9-31, Jack Hanaway 12-38, Brett Dattilo 1-16, Peter Cyr 4-20, Nico Buccieri 6-14, Matt Newman 3-5, Brad McColligan 1-4; Bedford (19-61) — Austin D’Anjou 4-29, Colin Cashin 7-17, Sean Tierny 3-11, Taylor Larson 1-0, Tyler Cibotti 4-4
PASSING: P — Jack Hanaway 2-4-0, 38; Bedford — Cibotti 8-23-3, 77, D’Anjou 1-1-0, 10
RECEIVING: P — Urbanik 1-21, Austin Whitehead 1-17; Bedford — Andrew Penaskovic 4-34, Cashin 2-38, Tom Reynolds 2-13, Eric Glassman 1-2

David Willis is a sportswriter/videographer for The Eagle-Tribune. Reach him on twitter at @DWillisET

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Football, 11/22/14 » 0 Comments & 0.0 Stars

Christopher stars, but Andover loses shootout

LEXINGTON — Andover scored two fourth quarter touchdowns to cut its deficit to just one touchdown, but that was as close as the Golden Warriors could get, falling to Lexington 47-39 Saturday afternoon.

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Windham earns berth in Division 2 title game with victory over Hollis-Brookline

WINDHAM — It had become the mantra of the Windham football team:

“Thirty-eight miles down the road,” said QB Brendan McInnis. “That’s been our motto, 38 miles.”

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Cervizzi caps Brooks' sterling season with 220 yards

Chris Cervizzi's top rushing performances: Att.    Yards    Opponent 34    *288    Nobles 39    237    Groton 31    220    St. George's 34    220    Westminster *-Marks the area's top single-game mark of the season

NORTH ANDOVER — Given a rare opportunity to play one more game, Brooks made the most of its extra week.

Earning a postseason berth for the first time since 2009 — a loss to Pingree that kicked off a miserable four-year stretch — Brooks ran over Westminster 31-28 for a Sean Brennan Bowl victory yesterday. The game marked third-place finishers from the Independent School League (Brooks) and the Colonial Football League.

And as he has most of the season, it was Chris Cervizzi doing the bulk of the damage for the Green and White (7-2).

The senior from North Reading gained at least 10 yards on six of his 34 carries and finished with 220 yards and four scores.

"However we found a way to win didn't matter to me," said Cervizzi, the area leader with 1,496 yards. "This is the best feeling in the world. We've worked so hard this summer and this fall. And each game we've played our hearts out.

"I can't put it into words to be able to play a bowl game at home in our final game. The past three years have been real tough, and winning this is something else."

It was the fourth time this season Cervizzi has surpassed 200 yards. He scored on runs of 11, 8 (with 10:45 left in the third that gave Brooks the lead for good at 17-12), 3 and 24 yards.

Leading the way for Cervizzi once again was an offensive line that features locals Nolan LeBlanc, a left tackle from Andover, Jake Gottfried and Owen Rosenberger, a left guard and right tackle, respectively, from North Andover.

Also contributing on offense was Andrew Hulshult, a kicker from Salem, N.H., who kicked off the afternoon's scoring with a 36-yard field goal — his third of the season — and added four extra points.

LeBlanc and Gottfried also anchored a strong defensive front that held Westminster (6-3) to 64 yards on 19 rushing attempts and 123 total yards.

"We had to shut down the run," said Nick Konovalchik, a defensive back who finished off Westminster's final possession with a blitzing strip-sack and also recovered the fumble. "We had to play good all-around defense."

Finishing with its best record since the same 7-2 mark of 2009 after losing 28 of its previous 32 should provide Brooks a solid foundation. The turn-around campaign in Foley's second year leading the program, should invigorate the returning players, providing motivation for continued success.

"We're going to build on the satisfaction of having a good season this year," said Konovalchik, a sophomore from North Andover who also had a couple of acrobatic catches among his game-high six receptions that netted 92 yards. "We went to a bowl game for the first time in a long time, so we have to come back hot next year. We'll be gunning for the (ISL) title."

One of the bright spots for Westminster was two-way starting lineman Corey Jean-Jacques of Haverhill, who recorded a 13-yard sack on Brooks QB K.J. Moore.

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Noyes heads balanced offense in Sachem win

WEST NEWBURY — Things went so well for Pentucket yesterday that one of its eight scoring possessions required less than a second — seven-tenths to be exact — to find success.

But it was an afternoon of successful results for the Sachems who routed visiting Arlington Catholic 53-0 before a small, but satisfied crowd.

"It's the second to last game for the seniors, so definitely we were motivated," said Andrew Noyes, who scored a pair of touchdowns while leading a balanced yard-eating ground attack with 114 yards. "All we have left is Thanksgiving (at home against Triton), so naturally we're motivated.

"Some of us aren't going to play football ever again. Everyone says you don't know how fast it's going to go by. It turns out it goes by reaL fast."

It was the Pentucket offense that played fast yesterday. After a three-and-out first possession, the Sachems (5-5) scored each of the next seven times they had the ball. Bouncing back from a shutout loss last week, Pentucket finished with 330 yards on 32 carries and 396 total yards on 40 plays.

"It's hard to tell who's going to come to play," longtime Pentucket coach Steve Hayden said. "I think our guys worked hard and played hard during the week. We got back to some basics, which is good,"

In addition to Noyes, Jeff Porter ran for a score and caught another from Pat Freirmuth, who also ran for two. Chris Muello capped the scoring with a 70-yard blast with 7:23 left.

The defense also set up their offensive mates in great field position:

— A Liam Sheehy fumble recovery set up the first of two Jeff Porter touchdowns and got Pentucket on the board.

— A Noah Malhi fumble recovery set up a four-play drive that ended with a Jack Richard 6-yard run and a 20-0 lead.

— A Porter interception at the goal line shut down AC's best scoring chance and led to the Freirmuth-to-Porter scoring pass.

— A 27-yard Freirmuth interception return set up the Sachems at the AC 1-yard line (hence the sub-second possession).

— A Ben Thornton fumble recovery set up Noyes' final scoring run for a 46-0 lead with 5:27 left in the third.

One week after giving up 413 yards rushing in a 21-0 loss to North Reading, the Sachems shut down the Cougar attack. After 30 carries, AC finished with negative-11 yards, which included 54 yards lost on six sacks. Pentucket's front line of Thornton, (who added a sack), Sean McGrath (in on two sacks) and Joe Raimondi helped stuff 14 of the rushing attempts for zero yards or fewer.

"We knew they were going to be more of a threat through the air, so we've been working on a lot of coverages this past week. We did what we had to do. We had our toughest week of practice all year, and that probably made the difference."

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Unfinished business: Astros cruise in semis, set sights on title

DERRY — For the Pinkerton Astros, championship week will be a trip down memory lane.
Unfortunately for Pinkerton, most of the images conjured up will be a might painful.
Like the club's one and only football trip to the title game opponent Bedford High last year, a 14-12 loss?
Or how about the last three state finals' appearances — all losses?
As happy as Pinkerton should be about rolling to its 11th straight win yesterday, 35-0 over Bishop Guertin in Division 1 state semis, satisfaction is yet to be secured. Saturday (6 p.m.), it can be had, at the University of New Hampshire against 11-0 Bedford, which gritted out its semifinal victory, 14-7, over Exeter.
"If we're not (a winner next week) it's a lost weekend," said Astros' coach Brian O'Reilly. You're going to get our best. We're not just satisfied being there. Our goal always is to be there. Now that we're there, we have to do something about it."
The top-seeded Astros simply overpowered BG yesterday, grinding out 354 yards on 55 carries, ending the Cardinals' five-game win streak and their season.
"Bishop Guertin is a good team, we knew that," said Astros halfback T.J. Urbanik. "That's a hard-hitting team. I got beat up pretty good out there. But we were up for this all week."

Urbanik powered a balanced Astros ground game, rolling up 149 yards and three TDs on 18 tries. But he was hardly a one-man band as fullback Michael Curley (14-86), super-sub Brett Dattilo (6-71, 1 TD) and QB Jack Hanaway (5-31) each took their turns gnawing away at BG.
"We have so many weapons, it's hard to key on one person," said Urbanik. "You focus on one guy, and someone else will beat you."
Up 21-0 at the half thanks to long Pinkerton scoring drives of 97, 85 and 67 yards, BG just never made it a game. 
Urbanik's third score of the game, on 4th-and-goal from the 1, plus Nick Coombs' 47-yard punt return sent this one into "running time" as the teams changed ends to play the last quarter.
Pinkerton will now turn the focus to next week's super-power showdown with the unbeaten Bulldogs.
"I remember it well," said O'Reilly of the September 2013 meeting. "They were coming up from Division 2, and that was a big deal to them. They beat us and it hurt."
Urbanik and his teammates felt the pain, too.
"That's one I can't forget," said the junior, who has now run for 1,205 yards on 113 carries this season. "They embarrassed us last year."

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Whittier throws major scare into defending state champs

PEABODY — Bishop Fenwick has now won a state-leading 26 straight games, but Friday night’s 20-14 thriller over Whittier Tech in the Division 5 North semifinals may have been the toughest. Whittier, which fell to 7-3, came into the contest unfazed by defending state champion Fenwick’s reputation. “We played our football. It was a good, tough football game. We believed in ourselves that we were gonna come out and play our football. Nobody intimidates us. They weren’t intimidated by their records and they showed it,” Whittier coach Kevin Bradley said. “We were able to stop their big running back. It was just a couple big plays that they broke on us.” That “big running back” is Rufus Rushins, a 220-pound bruiser with over 5,000 career rushing yards. He had to earn every one of those 126 yards. It took 27 carries and the Cats accomplished something few have ... held Mr. Rushins without a touchdown. Leading 14-12, Whittier had the hosts on the ropes. But Fenwick pulled it out on a 1-yard run by Josh Niconchuk with 7:44 left to tie it. If you thought Rushins was big. Niconchuk is 300 pounds! Rushins added the 2-point rush for the 20-14 final. Two plays later, Fenwick forced a fumble and R.J. Libby recovered. The Crusaders then picked up three crucial first downs — all runs by Rushins — to salt the game away. Rushins had a hard time getting going. He was often met in the backfield by Whittier defenders. He struggled his way to 40 yards in the first half, but got rolling after the break. The Crusaders will now play Abington, a 38-20 winner over East Bridgewater, for the second year in a row in the state semifinal. With the rushing game held in check, Matt Renzulli was sharp throwing the ball, connecting on 8 of 13 passes for 89 yards and 19-yard touchdown toss to Brian Fitzpatrick that gave Fenwick a 12-8 lead in the first half. Renzulli added 33 yards on the ground before re-injuring his sprained ankle. He finished the game on the sidelines with senior Mike Campatelli making a memorable return to the field. Whittier took an early 8-0 lead when Connor Bradley hit Sean Thibodeau for a 23-yard TD pass. Jesus Sanchez (16 carries, 102 yards) added the conversion rush. Fenwick cut it to 8-6 less than three minutes later when Cody Mullen took a direct snap and followed Rushins right up the middle for an 8-yard score. Whittier re-tok the lead on a 5-yard Sanchez run in the third. The Wildcats were primed to post perhaps the biggest win of the year in Eastern Mass. but Fenwick wasn’t done yet.

Bishop Fenwick 20, Whittier 14 Bishop Fenwick (7-3):     8 0 6 0 — 20 Whittier (10-0):     6 6 0 8 — 14 Division 5 North Final First Quarter  WT — Sean Thibodeau 23 pass from Connor Bradley (Jesus Sanchez rush)  BF — Cody Mullen 8 run (rush fail) Second Quarter  BF — Brian Fitzpatrick 19 pass from Matt Renzulli (rush fail) Third Quarter  WT — Sanchez 5 run (rush fail) Fourth Quarter  BF — Josh Niconchuk 1 run (Rufus Rushins rush) INDIVIDUAL LEADERS RUSHING: WT — 16-102, Robby Gramstorff 8-44, Sidney Taylor 4-14; BF — Rufus Rushins 27-126 PASSING: WT — Connor Bradley 5-13-0, 56; BF —Renzulli 8-13-0, 89 RECEIVING: WT — Sean Thibodeau 3-41, Taylor 1-10, Gramstorff 1-5

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Football, 11/14/14 » 0 Comments & 0.0 Stars

Reggies roll in Lowell

 LOWELL — Greater Lawrence didn't have any troule bouncing back from its heartbreaking playoff loss to Whittier Tech just six days earlier.

In fact, the Reggies seemed to get a bounce from their playoff exit as they ripped Lowell Catholic 30-0 to head into Thanksgiving with a 6-3 record and good momentum when it will face Whittier once again.

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Hornets fall in OT


NEWBURYPORT — North Reading outrushed Newburyport by a 3-1 margin last night, but the Hornets got stopped when it counted most — on the last play of the game.

After a 21-21 stalemate after regulation, both teams scored in overtime. But newburyport threw for two points to give it 29 while the Hornets' rush through the line was stopped just short of the goal line, giving the Clippers the 29-27 victory.

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Late turnover dooms Methuen

ACTON — Driving for the potential winning score, Methuen turned the ball over and Acton-Boxboro marched for an insurance touchdown. A-B won the non-playoff game 28-18. "Our kids played very tough," said Methuen coach Tom Ryan. But the turnover with about four minutes left at the A-B 25 was a killer. Junior Kendrick DeNose had a big game with two touchdown runs and a 15-yard TD pass to Nick Comerford. DeNose rushed for 80 yards and Jake Amodio rushed for 75. The defense held A-B in check most of the way and Methuen led 18-14 after three quarters. "Sean Nickerson our middle linebacker played a great game," said Ryan. Comerford anchored the line while Tim Michelini (interception) and Abimelec Gonzalez (fumble recovery) also earned praise. Methuen (3-7) is off until Thanksgiving when it hosts Dracut.

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