Local high school football teams began league play last weekend, and I predicted players would elevate their play due to the increased stakes.
What I neglected to predict was that coaches, too, would elevate their commitment now that the league season is underway.
I saw evidence of this Friday afternoon in Saugus as I sat in a steady rain in the bleachers at Stackpole Field. Newburyport and Saugus were finishing up the first half when one Amesbury football coach after another climbed the bleachers and settled in at the top of the bleachers.
By the fourth quarter, Thom Connors and two of his assistant coaches were standing in the rain, taking mental notes on both teams. After all, Amesbury will have to beat Saugus and Newburyport to achieve its goal of winning the Cape Ann League/Northeastern Conference Division 3 championship.
We’ve officially opened the league schedule. It’s the time of year when played elevate their play, and three coaches from the same staff drive an hour each way in rush hour traffic to stand in the rain and watch future opponents.
On to the picks.
Winthrop at Amesbury, 7
Amesbury (5-2) has scored 157 points in its last four games, an average of 39.33 points per game. It’s not like Amesbury coach Thom Connors has been running up the score, either. Last week, he called off the dogs after Amesbury led Triton 42-0 in the third quarter. Triton made it respectable with a 42-13 result. Here’s a scary thought for future Amesbury foes. The Indians now have one of the league’s top receiving threats in Devlin Gobeil back on the field, after the senior missed four games with an injury.
The pick: Amesbury 30, Winthrop 14
Georgetown at Ipswich, 7
Georgetown is struggling to overcome the injury bug, which is always difficult at small schools. Last week, the Royals only accumulated 79 total yards of offense last week in a 14-0 loss to North Reading.