, Newburyport, MA

September 20, 2013

No player will replace Rothwell for Pentucket

Making the picks
Dan Guttenplan

---- — Before I get to the high school football picks, I want to remind you about a few charity events this weekend.

Tomorrow morning, the first annual Miles for Mike Cross-Country Festival will be at Woodsom Farm in Amesbury. Local coaches Joe Colbert of Triton and Ernie Bissaillon of Amesbury organized the event in honor of Mike Farmer, the longtime Amesbury cross-country coach who died this summer after battling cancer for years.

The meet was formerly known as the Cape Ann League Freshman-Sophomore Meet, although it will be expanded in future years to include middle school teams and non-league high school teams.

Colbert and Bissaillon are starting a Miles for Mike Foundation, which will raise funds to promote youth running in the area.

“We hope to make this an annual event and really have it become a local tradition,” Colbert said. “We feel like it could really become big in the coming years.”

The second note: The Pentucket and Newburyport soccer teams will face off tomorrow in the annual ALS Cup, with the proceeds from the gate receipts going to amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. The Pentucket boys have won their last seven meetings against Newburyport and hold an 8-3 advantage since the start of the Cup in 2002. This year’s boys game will start at 3 p.m. in World War Memorial Stadium.

The girls game will come first at 1 p.m., and Pentucket will be looking to earn its first victory in the 10th year of the charitable matchup.

On to the picks.

Tonight’s games

Ipswich at Newburyport, 7

For a Week 2 game, this is pretty close to must-win territory for Newburyport. The Clippers (0-1) fell short against Lynnfield last week, and they can’t afford to drop to 0-2 against Division 4 teams with the new playoff format. Ipswich lost to North Reading 33-7 last week, and the Hornets will be next on the schedule for the Clippers. Considering Newburyport’s October schedule includes Pentucket, Triton, Masconomet and Saugus, it is imperative the Clippers take advantage of the relatively weak opponent.

The pick: Newburyport 20, Ipswich 6

Pentucket at Amesbury, 7

My preview story idea for this week was to find out which Pentucket tailback will be filling the giant shoes left by 2013 graduate Cody Rothwell, who rushed for 2,019 yards last season. Pentucket coach Steve Hayden didn’t respond to an email inquiring about Rothwell’s replacement, so we went down to practice yesterday determined the find the answer. Well, the answer, according to Hayden, is no one player will replace Rothwell. He had eight players pose for a photo because they will all split the rushing load. Chalk this one up as a bad story idea. A 2,000-yard rusher is a once-a-decade or even once-a-generation occurrence for a program.

The pick: Pentucket 19, Amesbury 13

Saturday’s game

Lawrence Academy at Governor’s Academy, 1

I’ll take the team with the 18-game winning streak, which happens to be the Govs. Head coach Jim O’Leary, the former coach of the Triton football team, expects Lawrence Academy to be one of the Govs’ most difficult opponents this season. If you’re looking to check out some local talent on a Saturday afternoon, the Govs will lean on Amesbury’s Brandon Lopez as their lead tailback. Tight end Dan Healey (Newbury), Central Catholic transfer Zach Coffey (Newbury) and two-way starter Larson Bidstrup (Byfield) will also see plenty of action.

The pick: Govs 21, Lawrence Academy 13

Last week’s record: 2-1

Overall record: 2-2