Pioneers survive and advance to semifinal round

Nov 7, 2019 by

Published November 6, 2019

By JAMES CRANNEY

LYNNFIELD — As NFL great Bill Parcells once said, “This is why you lift all them weights!”

Coming on the heels of a 3-8 2018 season, the Lynnfield Pioneers sat at 6-1 on Friday night with the only thing you could ask for this time of year: a chance.

In the quarterfinals of the Division 5 North tournament, the Pioneers welcomed to town a familiar 2-5 Newburyport team. Lynnfield had previously beaten the Clippers in the season opener 43-7, but as we all know, the postseason is a whole different ballgame.

DJ CAPACHIETTI rushed for 60 yards and opened Lynnfield’s scoring with a 2-yard TD reception during the Pioneers’ victory over Newburyport on Friday night. (Kerrianne Allain Photo)

After an offseason of hours invested in weights thrown and stairs run, Lynnfield finally had their chance.

The Pioneers found themselves down 3-0 early after Newburyport’s opening drive ended with a 33-yard field goal. Following a failed Lynnfield fake punt near midfield, the Clippers would have a chance to extend their lead with great field position. The Pioneer defense had other intentions though forcing a quick three-and-out.

When Lynnfield got the ball back with 5:15 left in the 1st quarter, 90 yards separated the Pioneers from the end zone. That would be no issue for the high-powered offense.

During the regular season, the strength of the Lynnfield’s offense has been the passing game. On this drive though, the Pioneers were able to establish a solid rushing attack. Junior running back DJ Capachietti (11 carries, 60 yards) got things started breaking off runs for 18 and eight yards. The Pioneers were able to move the ball over midfield and faced a 3rd and 4. Capachietti kept the drive alive as the back lowered his shoulder through a group of Clipper tacklers.

THE PIONEER defense was dominant on Friday night. Of the eight Newburyport possessions, Lynnfield forced a fumble once and a punt five times while only one ended in points for the Clippers. Pictured making a tackle is Owen Blacker (55) with Nick Marotta (66) ready to help. (Kerrianne Allain Photo)

From the Newburyport 27 yard line, another 3rd down faced the Pioneers. Needing 13 yards to pick up the first down, Capachietti’s number was called again. Senior quarterback captain Clayton Marengi (20-25, 212 yards, 4 touchdowns) lofted a pass over oncoming defenders for a Capachietti screen that would pick up the 13 yards necessary. Five plays later, Marengi would roll to his right and find Capachietti yet again to give Lynnfield a 7-3 lead.

Newburyport had terrific field position again starting at their own 42 yard line, but the tenacious Pioneer defense would not budge. On 3rd-and-7, junior quarterback Charlie Cahalane tried to keep it himself but was met by a swarm of navy blue jerseys.

CLAYTON MARENGI threw for 206 yards and 4 TD’s during Lynnfield’s victory over Newburyport in the D5N quarterfinals. Marengi’s final TD pass
set a school record of 22 on the season breaking a record held by Dan Sullivan (’14) and Matt Mortellite (’16). Marengi also tied the single game record for
TD passes for the third time this year and fourth time in his career. (Kristine Marengi Photo)

When Lynnfield got the ball back, they picked up right where they left off. Mixing between runs and passes, the Pioneers worked their way down the field and into the Newburyport red zone. On 3rd-and-8 from the 14-yard line, Marengi looked toward junior receiver Jack Ford (7 catches, 76 yards, 2 touchdowns) to move the chains. Similar to the previous touchdown play, Marengi would roll right and fire a pass this time to junior Bakari Mitchell (5 catches, 70 yards, 1 touchdown) extending Lynnfield’s lead 13-3.

Following consecutive weeks of slow third quarter starts, the Pioneers would take the 10-point advantage into the second half and continue dominating. The Clippers possessed the ball at the Lynnfield 42 yard line when a fumbled snap was snagged off the ground by senior defensive lineman Liam Farrell.

After the sudden change in possession, Lynnfield looked deep. On the very first snap, Marengi heaved it into Newburyport territory to find Mitchell 33 yards down field. It would only take four more plays to make it a three possession game. Marengi would fake the jet sweep handoff to senior captain John Lee (3 rushes 12 yards, 2 catches 16 yards) before launching a ball towards Jack Ford in the back of the end zone for an 11 yard touchdown. Marengi would find Ford again on the two point conversion increasing the Lynnfield lead to 18.

On the first play of the 4th quarter up 21-3, the Pioneers faced a 3rd and 4 near midfield. If Newburyport wanted any chance at getting back into this game, they would need a play here. They would not get the stop though as Marengi once again targeted Mitchell for the first down. On the following play, Marengi looked towards the reliable Ford for a 27-yard pickup. A 3rd down converting screen pass to senior running back Joseph Contardo would set Lynnfield up inside the 5-yard line with a chance to seal the deal.

Marengi scrambled towards his right before spinning a ball to the back right corner of the end zone. When the ball finally met its target, Jack Ford was the recipient of the game solidifying score.

The Pioneers would survive the first round of the playoffs on home soil 27-3.

The semifinal round brings another familiar opponent as 7-1 Lynnfield hosts 3-5 Amesbury on Friday night. The Pioneers beat Amesbury 34-24 on Oct. 12. 

Nobody knows the past means nothing more than Pioneer head coach Pat Lamusta. 

“We definitely had a few mistakes,” Lamusta reminded the media following the playoff victory. “I’m thrilled about the win, but I know we can play better.”

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