After a pair of relatively painless games versus the Georgetown Royals (35-0) and then Manchester Essex (47-13), the Pioneers avoided the trap-game by upending the Hornets 14-7 in a rousing championship-clinching contest on Thanksgiving.
The Indians concluded their regular season with what would prove to be their toughest three-game stretch — a hard-fought 29-19 win over Saugus, a last-minute, come-from-behind 21-20 thriller over Pentucket, and then, on Thanksgiving, a tooth-and-nail scrap against the defensive-minded Newburyport Clippers — a game in which the golden boot of junior Mac Short propelled the Indians to a 13-10 victory.
“Our last two games against Pentucket and then Newburyport prove that this team can take a punch and keep moving forward,” said Connors. “We know how to battle, and that’s what we expect. Playing aggressive, scrappy defensive teams like Newburyport have helped this team, but when it really comes down to it, it’s about turnovers, having no penalties, and timely plays.
“We’ve played against good teams that shoot themselves in the foot, and we’ve been able to avoid that. The first time we played Lynnfield, we had four or five turnovers, and, needless to say, they capitalized.”
The Indians are returning to the postseason for their first time since their Super Bowl 2008 season, while the Pioneers are making their first postseason trip since 2009. Weidman hopes his team can make the next step, but he knows that it’ll have to take a near flawless performance from his team to do so.
“First off, (Amesbury) has tough kids, they’re well-coached and they’re athletic, so that’s a pretty solid combination whichever way you look at it,” said Weidman. “You really can’t make mistakes against a team like this, because if you begin to help them, you’re really putting the odds against you — they’re good enough on their own.”