Tigers methodically tear apart North Andover
Monday, August, 27
By Matt Jenkins
IPSWICH | No flash, just efficiency.
The Ipswich High School football team has kept it simple through the first three weeks, and the results have been pouring in against established programs.
North Andover was the Tigers' latest victim, succumbing to the strong defense and deliberate offense in a 20-0 whitewashing last night.
Ipswich's victory snapped a three-game losing streak against the Scarlet Knights while at the same time shutting them out for the first time since 1998.
Ipswich, which already has wins under its belt against St. Mary's and Pentucket this season, is now 3-0 for the first time since 2002. North Andover, meanwhile, is off to an 0-3 start for the first time since 1998, a season in which it finished 1-10.
"I've been doing this for 15 years, and you wait to have feelings like this and opportunities like this where you have kids that work hard, (have) a great coaching staff, great support from the town and things are going as planned," Ipswich coach Ted Flaherty said.
"Each game is going the way we'd like it to go | strong defense and methodical offense. This is by far the best start I've had."
The Tigers spread the wealth on offense last night, but didn't put up any gaudy numbers. What the Ipswich offense was able to do was keep the clock running and prevent North Andover from ever finding a rhythm when it had the ball.
When the Knights did get their hands on the pigskin, Ipswich made sure there were no big mistakes that could lead to a game-breaking play.
Andrew Foote, North Andover's All-Cape Ann League running back, was limited to 28 yards on nine carries.
"We were prepared for what they gave us," Flaherty said. "Our kids felt confident when they saw it, so defensively we've been playing with a lot of emotion and a lot of speed. We're really trying to make it simple so we can play fast | and they're doing it."
Ipswich captain Alex McCarthy made the game's first big play when he blocked a North Andover punt in the first quarter, setting up the Tigers with prime field position at the visitor's 17-yard-line.
The Knights limited the Ipswich offense to just four yards on the first three plays, but quarterback Alex Harrington rolled out on 4th-and-6 and delivered a 13-yard touchdown pass to Steve Phaneuf.
"We were in a pretty good situation at that point," North Andover coach John Rafferty said. "They ran something that wasn't unfamiliar, that's for sure. But they executed it and we did not."
Harrington and Phaneuf hooked up again in the first half, this time on a 7-yard touchdown pass with 2:51 to go before intermission, giving the Tigers a 13-0 halftime lead. That touchdown capped a 10-play, 46-yard drive.
Ipswich pushed the lead to 20-0 midway through the third quarter when Ryan Gagnon slipped into the end zone from 2 yards out.
Then, it was all about the Ipswich defense.
North Andover only picked up four first downs and one was a 38-yard halfback pass from Foote to Kenny Kobierski in the third quarter.
Flaherty was fearful about Ipswich's chances to slow Foote, but the Tigers bottled him up every time he touched the ball. Foote's biggest gain of the night was a harmless 8-yard pickup on a third quarter first down.
"He's one tackle away from going 80 yards every time he touches the ball," Flaherty said. "He's scary."
McCarthy led the Ipswich offense with 56 yards rushing, Gagnon added 44 yards, and Phaneuf had 39 yards on the ground and 36 yards receiving.
With each win, Ipswich is seemingly gaining confidence and momentum.
"Last week we really established that. To beat Pentucket after they crushed us last year (37-0), on their field, we felt like we can play with people if we avoid mistakes and keep doing what we're doing," Flaherty said.
"We don't want to get too fancy and just play hard. They felt that last week, now I can only imagine how focused we're going to be this (coming) week."