, Newburyport, MA

October 21, 2013

Amesbury appears primed for postseason

By Greg Phipps

---- — GEORGETOWN — The season has taken a 180-degree turn for the Amesbury Indians.

Strong offensive performances by quarterback Mac Short and halfback Ben Cullen, along with a solid overall effort by the defense, helped post a 35-0 shutout over the struggling Georgetown Royals Saturday in a Cape Ann League Division 2 battle at Georgetown High School.

It was Amesbury’s third consecutive victory after being beaten soundly in its first three games. The Indians, who have 16 sophomores on this year’s squad, improved to 3-3 overall, but most importantly 3-1 and in sole possession of second place in the CAL Div. 2 standings.

“It took us a while to iron things out, but our offense is coming together and we’re playing much better on defense,” said Indians head coach Thom Connors. “We were a young team when we started the season. But now that we’ve gotten a little beyond midseason, those sophomores aren’t really sophomores anymore. They’re gaining more and more confidence each week.”

The Amesbury defense intercepted three passes. Ryan Foley picked one off in the first half, while Taber Smith and Spencer Fournier hauled in second-half interceptions.

Short attempted just one pass, which was ruled an interception even though it appeared to hit the ground. As it turned out, the Indians were able to take advantage of great field position all game and didn’t need to worry about their air attack.

Short rambled for 110 yards on eight carries, including a TD run from one yard out in the second quarter and a 64-yard dash late in the third period. He was also a perfect 5-for-5 on his point-after kick attempts.

Cullen (49 yards rushing and three touchdowns) got things off to a rousing start for the visitors by returning the game-opening kickoff 85 yards to the end zone, putting Amesbury in front just 12 seconds into the contest.

Cullen would also tack on first-half TD runs of one and five yards.

For the Royals, who fell to 0-6 overall and 0-4 in league, the day was symbolized by consecutive bad snaps that led to 24 lost yards on a first-quarter drive that seemed to have promise, especially after quarterback Patrick Bjork (eight completions for 99 yards) connected on a 28-yard bomb that brought the Royals close to midfield.

Georgetown head coach Paul Sobolewski said his Royals have played hard all year but are having difficulty competing in the Div. 4 Cape Ann League, which hasn’t been helped by losing their starting quarterback and starting center to injury, and having to play Bjork, an all-league tight end last year, at QB.

“I’ll say the same thing I’ve been saying since I took over here two years ago. In my opinion, this program belongs in a Division 5 league,” Sobolewski said. “When you have a limited amount of players on your team, you need to be playing against teams that are on the same level as you. Our kids come out every week and play their hardest. I hope somebody (in the MIAA) will listen to me and put these kids in a league where they can be more competitive.

A few highlights for Georgetown included a 27-yard hookup between Lambert and receiver Richie Gray in the fourth quarter and 47 yards on 13 carries for Cooper Martens. Lambert also came up short on a 37-yard field goal attempt in the third.

Meanwhile, the Indians will gear up for a huge league matchup at 2-2 Manchester-Essex Friday at 7 p.m.

“We had the best week of practice we’ve had all year (leading up to Saturday’s game). Our guys are coming together at the right time,” Connors said. “Manchester Essex got a big overtime win over Ipswich (on Friday), so that kind of sets the stage for next week. It’s a big game.”

Amesbury 35, Georgetown 0

at Georgetown Regional High School

Amesbury 7 21 7 0 35

Georgetown 0 0 0 0 0

First quarter

A - Ben Cullen 85 kickoff return (Mac Short kick) 10:48

Second quarter

A - Cullen 1 run (Short kick) 8:36

A - Cullen 5 run (Short kick) 4:52

A - Short 1 run (Short kick) 3:41

Third quarter

A - Short 64 run (Short kick) 1:13

Individual leaders

Rushing: A - Short 8-110-2; Cullen 12-49-2; Ryan Foley 2-16. G - Cooper Martens 13-47; Matt Prescott 7-25.

Passing: Short 0-1-0-1. G - Daniel Lambert 8-13-99-0-3.

Receiving: G - Martens 3-18; Richie Gray 2-38.