, Newburyport, MA

November 8, 2013

HUNTING for A Super Bowl SHOT

Pentucket can beat opponents many different ways

Dan Guttenplan
On Football

---- — The Pentucket football team has done nothing consistently this season other than win, and now the Sachems are two wins away from their first Super Bowl apperance since 2001.

As the Watertown coaching staff prepares for its game at Pentucket tomorrow, the visitors must be giving themselves a collective headache trying to predict the Sachems’ game plan.

The Sachems don’t have a superstar, or even a player who gets the majority of the carries on offense every week. The six Pentucket wins have offered six different storylines of how the Sachems dissected their opponents.

“We have a lot of depth on offense,” Pentucket quarterback Ryan Kuchar said. “We don’t have anyone leading the Cape Ann League in anything. We just have a lot of good players who catch the ball and run the ball.”

In a win against Amesbury, Pentucket senior Chris Croteau had 117 rushing yards and a touchdown. In a victory over Triton, Jeff Porter had 10 carries for 86 yards and a touchdown. In a win over Newburyport, the Sachems defense held the Clippers to seven points. In a victory over Masconomet, Kuchar completed 7 of 11 passes for 160 yards and a touchdown. In a win over Saugus, D.J. Engelke had 144 total yards and a touchdown.

Engelke was back at it last week against Hamilton-Wenham, tallying 195 rushing yards on seven carries, including two touchdowns.

“It takes a lot of pressure off me,” Kuchar said.

“I know so many people can make big plays. I love having all of those people on the field.”

Kuchar emerged as one of the area’s top quarterbacks at midseason when he had back-to-back 100-yard passing games against Masconomet and Saugus. Perhaps Pentucket coach Steve Hayden felt those two passing performances were causing opposing defenses to key on the pass, because in the last two games, Kuchar has completed only three passes.

The senior admits to occasionally wishing he could be a bigger part of the game plan.

“A little bit, but whatever helps the team, I’m all for it,” Kuchar said. “That’s what the big thing is, not really myself or my passing yards.”

Making the picks

North Reading at Amesbury, 7

The winner of tonight’s game could make the case as the best of the non-playoff teams in Division 4. North Reading (4-4) has a victory over Masconomet to its record. The key for Amesbury (4-4) will be jumping to an early lead. If North Reading gets down by more than one score, it’s tough sledding for the Hornets, who have virtually no passing attack.

The pick: North Reading 20, Amesbury 14

Tomorrow’s games

Newburyport at Stoneham, 2

These last three games will be important for Newburyport quarterback Michael Shay’s development. A strong finish to the season will give the Clippers plenty of optimism heading into next season.

Shay will be without the team’s leading rusher, Trevor Bradbury, who separated his shoulder last week.

The pick: Newburyport 7, Stoneham 6

Triton at Hamilton-Wenham, 11

In my mind, there are seven legitimate Division 4 playoff teams, and Hamilton-Wenham is the odd team out as No. 8. I don’t see the Generals providing a very competitive matchup for any of the other seven teams.

The pick: Triton 35, Hamilton-Wenham 6

Watertown at Pentucket, 2

Ball-security will be paramount for the Sachems, who are playing a Watertown team that forced four turnovers against Triton last week.

The only concern for Pentucket is that the Sachems haven’t really experienced a playoff atmosphere yet, as last week’s game against Hamilton-Wenham was over before it started.

The pick: Pentucket 20, Watertown 16

Belmont Hill at Governor’s Academy, 1

The Govs (6-1) can finish off another outstanding season with a victory over Belmont Hill (5-2).

With the exception of one loss to Milton Academy this season, the Govs have been perfect for three seasons.

The pick: Govs 30, Belmont Hill 20

Last week’s record: 3-3

Overall record: 26-12