By Dan Guttenplan
---- — AMESBURY — It’s starting to feel a lot like 2008 for the Amesbury football team.
For the first time since 2008, the last time the Indians won a Super Bowl, Amesbury won its Thanksgiving Day rivalry game against Newburyport yesterday, posting a 13-10 victory at James J. Landry Jr. Stadium.
The victory secured an outright Cape Ann League Division 3 title and a playoff berth for the Indians (9-2). The last time the Indians accomplished both of those feats was also during their Super Bowl season of 2008.
Amesbury’s victory snapped a three-game losing streak against Newburyport (6-5), a streak that dated back to 2009. The Clippers outscored the Indians by a combined score of 83-6 over those three seasons, but Amesbury is establishing a reputation for being a team that beats Newburyport when it counts under 11th-year coach Thom Connors, who started his coaching career as an assistant on Newburyport coach Ed Gaudiano’s staff from 1994 to 2000.
Connors and Gaudiano have faced off 11 times, with Newburyport coming out on top six times. However, Connors is 3-0 in games played on Thanksgiving Day with a league title at stake.
“I knew this was going to be a battle,” Connors said. “I knew they would grind it out. If you look at Newburyport all year, they didn’t allow many points. We only scored 13, but fortunately, it was enough.”
For Newburyport, yesterday marked the end of a season that figured to have much promise. The Clippers returned many of their key players from a team that won the league title last season, including record-setting quarterback Connor Wile. The Clippers had the wind taken out of their sails last spring when Wile suffered a serious injury to his throwing shoulder during baseball season. He missed the first six games this season, and never appeared to be at full strength.
“I think both teams played hard, but give (Amesbury) all the credit,” Gaudiano said. “They made the plays when they had to all game, and we didn’t make many plays. That was the difference.”