The biggest surprises through the first three weeks of the high school season are Newburyport lineman Dillon Guthro’s dominance, Pentucket’s passing attack on offense, and Triton’s ability to generate turnovers on defense.
Of the three suprises, I put Guthro at the top of the list.
The 6-foot-3, 220-pound defensive lineman has flashed athleticism that is rarely seen in the Cape Ann League. In last week’s win over Ipswich, Guthro’s size and agility made it an unfair fight at the line of scrimmage. He had 15 tackles, a sack for a safety, a forced fumble, and a blocked punt. When he was on the field, bad things happened for Ipswich.
Expect CAL coaches to get copies of that game film, and draw up offensive game plans that start with stopping Guthro. The three-sport Newburyport standout has been making his mark at the varsity level in football, basketball and lacrosse since his sophomore year, and his improvement has been rapid. This year, if he dominates on the basketball court and lacrosse fields like he has on the football field, the Clippers could be competing for CAL titles in multiple sports. If you have a minute (actually 59 seconds), you can see Guthro’s athleticism on display as he dunks a basketball over and over again in this video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LzbnEdUEU9Y/.
On to the picks.
North Reading at Newburyport
North Reading is off to a strong start, outscoring its two opponents — Ipswich and Hamilton-Wenham — 49-7. The Hornets went 8-2 last season with the season coming to end when they lost to Lynnfield 14-7 on Thanksgiving with a playoff berth on the line. The Hornets graduated Carl Lipani, who rushed for 2,178 yards and 31 touchdowns. C.J. McCarthy is the new workhorse with 54 carries for 322 yards and five touchdowns in two games.
Newburyport has been pretty good against the run this season, In the loss to Lynnfield, the Clippers allowed 116 yards on 36 carries — an average of just 2.8 yards per carry. In last week’s win over Ipswich, the Clippers allowed 13 yards on 27 carries — an average of 0.48 yards per carry.
If the Clippers continue to stop the run, they will put themselves in a nice position heading into October.
The pick: Newburyport 13, North Reading 12
Amesbury at Lynnfield, 1
Tough start to the season for the Indians. Their first three opponents — Triton, Pentucket and Lynnfield — have a combined record of 5-0 going into the weekend. Amesbury coach Thom Connors said after last week’s loss to Pentucket he thought he’d be coaching a pretty good team by the end of the season. I believe that, as many of Amesbury’s starters, particularly on defense, need more experience before they consistently perform at a varsity level.
The pick: Lynnfield 21, Amesbury 6
Triton at Pentucket, 1
The Sachems didn’t really show any signs of rust last week against Amesbury. They opened the game with a 61-yard touchdown pass on the first play from scrimmage and pushed right through the finish line, outscoring the Indians 21-0 in the final quarter. At some point, you’d expect to see a little rust considering Pentucket has played just three quarters of competitive football going into the last week of October. On the other hand, Triton is coming off a bye after playing two games before Pentucket took the field.
The pick: Triton 28, Pentucket 21
Governor’s Academy at Rivers School, 1:30
This does not figure to be the week the Govs’ 19-game winning streak comes to an end. Rivers School is coming off a 3-4 season and a 22-20 overtime loss in Week 1 against Noble and Greenough School. If you’re hoping to catch the Govs in action in the coming week, you’ll be disappointed to know they won’t play another home game until October 19.
The pick: Govs 22, Rivers School 0
Last week’s record: 3-0
This year’s record: 5-2