Ed Gaudiano laughs as he considers a question regarding how Amesbury coach Thom Connors has evolved since he served as an assistant on the Newburyport staff from 1994 to 2000.
“He’s gotten a lot more ornery on the sideline, I think,” says Gaudiano, who has coached Newburyport since 1988. “He’s a great game-day coach. He has some good calls on the sideline. He knows how to manage a game. He’s always had that. I think that’s what he does best.”
Gaudiano will coach against his former assistant for the 11th time on Thanksgiving Day. Connors took over the head job at Amesbury in 2002, and has since led the Indians to a record of 57-63 over 11 seasons. Gaudiano’s Clippers have posted a 6-4 record over Connors’ Indians on Thanksgiving, although Connors’ teams won the only two battles in which a playoff berth was decided by the winner of the game in 2007 and 2008.
That will be the stakes tomorrow when Amesbury (8-2 overall, 4-0 CAL) hosts Newburyport (6-4 overall, 3-1 CAL) at Landry Stadium for the 90th meeting between the schools. Amesbury has already clinched a share of the Cape Ann League Division 3 championship. Newburyport can split the title with a win, and advance to the Eastern Mass. Division 3A postseason for the second year in a row. Last year, the Clippers fell to Hamilton-Wenham one game shy of the Super Bowl at Gillette Stadium.
Gaudiano holds an overall career record of 160-107, which includes a 14-10 mark against Amesbury. He believes the Thanksgiving rivalry offers plenty of motivation for the players, without even factoring playoff berths, league titles or former coaching allegiances.
“I can’t remember what went on last week, but I know in 2007 and 2008, we didn’t win those games,” Gaudiano said. “One year, our quarterback Joe Clancy couldn’t play, so that was an interesting game. But I don’t think this game needs that hype. It’s still Thanksgiving, it’s still a league championship, and Amesbury already has a share. We’d like our share too.”