The wheels appear to be turning in the push to rename the Newburyport High baseball field after recently retired coach Bill Pettingell.
Pettingell retired from his post as Newburyport baseball coach this spring after winning the first state championship in his 40 years as varsity coach.
During the season, Newburyport High baseball alumni mounted a campaign to rename Lower Field after Pettingell, and it appears the campaign prompted a call for action.
The Newburyport School Committee and the Superintendent of Schools have formed a subcommittee to address the requests. The Naming of the High School Baseball Field Committee is now seeking community input.
I wrote a column in April 2007 suggesting the field should be named after Pettingell. I haven't changed my mind. Putting Pettingell's recent state championship and 614 career wins aside, the mark he has left on the Newburyport baseball community is visible at every turn.
Throughout his career, Pettingell has urged athletes to give back to the game of baseball. Many of his former players have gone on to coach youth league baseball or to serve as volunteer board members in various leagues. Many are now coaching high school baseball on the North Shore and elsewhere. Others are coaching at the collegiate level.
Certainly when many locals pass by Lower Field, the first person to come to mind is Pettingell.
Whether you agree that Pettingell should be the namesake of the field or not, you have the chance to state your opinion. Email Cathy Manning at firstname.lastname@example.org no later than Oct. 7 with suggestions for consideration.
The sub-committee includes School Committee members Steve Cole and Bruce Menin, former athletic director Jim Stehlin, Newburyport Five Cents Savings Bank President Richie Eaton, Anna Jaques Hospital Vice President Steve Salvo, Newburyport Athletic Director John Daileanes and Newburyport High Principal Mike Parent.
On to the football picks.
Hamilton-Wenham at Newburyport
Newburyport opened last season with a 14-7 loss to Hamilton-Wenham, and it turned out to be a killer for the Clippers, who finished one game behind the Generals in the Cape Ann League Small standings. Looking back, it was a missed opportunity for the Clippers to collect a CAL Small title, and that's been the story for the Clippers over the last four seasons. The Clippers combined to go 19-4 in the CAL Small from 2007 to 2010, but they don't have a single championship to show for it. In 2007 and 2008, they entered Thanksgiving undefeated in the league before dropping games to Amesbury. In 2009, they lost to Lynnfield before finishing 5-1 in the league. Last year, the Hamilton-Wenham loss was the lone blemish on a 5-1 league mark.
What does that have to do with this week's game? Not much, as these teams are no longer in the same division in the new CAL/NEC conference. But as I look over the Newburyport schedule, I can't help but think this could be a memorable season for the Clippers (2-0). They no longer have to play former CAL Large foes Masconomet and Wilmington. The Clippers' toughest opponents figure to be North Andover, Marblehead and Hamilton-Wenham. Looking back over the last four years, it's fair to say the Clippers have had good seasons, but I'm not sure they've had a great one. You have to win games like this to call a season great.
The pick: Newburyport 20, Hamilton-Wenham 14
North Reading at Amesbury
Amesbury's offense figured to struggle this season under first-year starting quarterback in Matt Talbot. That hasn't been the case as the Indian rushing attack has eclipsed 300 yards in each of the first two games. Last week against Lynnfield, the Indians ran 80 offensive plays — something eight-year coach Thom Connors had never seen at the high school level. The Indians (1-1) might be undefeated right now if only they had connected on a fourth-quarter, point-after-touchdown kick last week in a 14-13 loss. I like Amesbury's chances this week against a North Reading defense that struggled to stop Newburyport's Brett Fontaine on sweeps last week. Amesbury runs plenty of misdirection running plays.
The pick: Amesbury 14, North Reading 7
Ipswich at Triton
Can the Vikings make it two wins in a row on the heels of a 12-game losing streak? It seems doable against Ipswich (0-1), a team that lost to Marblehead 40-8 on opening night. Ipswich is coming off a bye week, and I'm not exactly sure what to make of that. In the NFL, teams typically play their best after a bye week. There's no evidence that the trend translates to high school. I suppose the Ipswich coaching staff and players were likely at Haverhill last Friday night scouting Triton. They couldn't have liked what they saw in a Triton victory. Viking quarterback Blaise Whitman threw for 200 yards and three touchdowns.
The pick: Triton 27, Ipswich 7
Pentucket at Danvers
Danvers (0-2) is looking to rebuild after a 1-10 season last fall. Pentucket (0-2) is looking to hang on after graduating a large senior class from a team that went 8-3 last fall. I look for Pentucket coach Steve Hayden to give the ball to fullback Nolan Dragon a lot, and I'm not sure the Falcons will have an answer.
The pick: Pentucket 19, Danvers 12
Georgetown at Whittier Tech
Whittier (0-2) is an old Commonwealth Conference foe for Georgetown (1-0), a team sitting on its first winning record since 2008. With Tyler Wade running the Royal offense (and coming off a bye), I'm going to pick the locals to push to 2-0.
The pick: Georgetown 14, Whittier 13
Last week's record: 2-2 Season record: 4-5