Pioneers stay perfect with 33-6 win over Malden

Oct 3, 2019 by

Lee and special teams rewrite record book

Published October 2, 2019

By JAMES CRANNEY

LYNNFIELD – What a difference a year can make.

At this time last year, the Lynnfield Pioneer football program sat at 0-2, had given up 43 points on defense and only mustered 20 of their own offensively. Just one year later, the Pioneers find themselves at 2-0 having allowed only 15 points while scoring 74.

Last Friday night, Lynnfield had the opportunity to go 3-0 for the first time since the 2017 season. To do so, they would have to defend their home turf against the 0-2 Golden Tornados from Malden.

The high powered Pioneer offense got the ball first and continued to shine.  On a 3rd and 10 around midfield, senior captain quarterback Clayton Marengi (7-13, 50 yards, 1 touchdown) could not find a receiver so he kept the drive alive with a 25 yard scramble.  Two plays later, senior captain running back Anthony Floramo (7 carries, 56 yards, 3 touchdowns) carried a pile of Malden defenders over the goal line for an early 7-0 Pioneer lead.

ANTHONY FLORAMO JR. turns upfield against Malden on Friday night. The senior had three rushing touchdowns in the first half alone to lead the Pioneers to a 33-5 win. (Kerrianne Allain Photo)

For the third week in a row, Lynnfield’s offense had found the end zone on their very first possession.  For the third week in a row as well, the defense did their job forcing a three-and-out on the first possession.  Both offenses would stall for the rest of the first quarter until the final minutes.

After another three-and-out forced by Lynnfield’s defense, senior captain John Lee would put the Pioneers in great field position returning a punt to the Golden Tornados’ 18 yard line. This would not be the last noise made from the Lynnfield special teams.

Following the return, it would only take the Pioneers one play to add to their lead.  Floramo touched the ball for the second time on the night and for the second time would be celebrating with his teammates in the back of the end zone.  

Trailing 14-0, Malden needed some sort of spark on offense. On the first play of the following series, senior quarterback Joleel Natal hit Jamari Youman on a slant pass for a 25 yard pickup. For the first time all night, the Golden Tornados found themselves on the plus side of the 50. Malden would not get much further though against this vaunted Pioneer defense.

Senior defensive lineman Liam Farrell made an exceptional open field tackle on a 3rd and 15 screen pass where the Malden back had some space. On 4th and 11 from the Lynnfield 39, Natal tried to connect with Youman again but senior defensive back Colby Clattenburg would not allow it.

The Pioneers would move the ball to the Golden Tornados 46 and faced a 4th and 4, a situation in high school football where a team typically elects to go for it. However, Lynnfield head coach Pat Lamusta strategically set his punting unit on the field.

“4th and 4 at midfield I decided to punt it,” commented coach Lamusta following the game. “The way the defense has been playing, I really wanted Malden, even though they have a lot of skilled guys, to have to go the length of the field. I figured let’s make them work, our defense has been rising to the occasion.”

The defense would not disappoint. After Floramo blew up a Malden screen pass, the Golden Tornados were looking at 3rd and 15 from their own 24 yard line. Malden tried some trickery with a direct snap to the receiver in motion but fooled no one in a navy blue jersey.

Lee would have another solid punt return setting the Pioneers up at Malden’s 36 yard line. Lee (3 catches, 31 yards) got the drive started on the first play turning a screen pass into a 13 yard gain. A late hit out of bounds would put Lynnfield just inside the Golden Tornados 10 yard line. On 3rd goal with just over 3 minutes to go in the half, Marengi looked to leading receiver Jack Ford (2 catches, 13 yards, 1 touchdown) in the corner of the end zone where the junior tapped his toes in bounds for a 9-yard TD reception.

Going into the locker room with a three touchdown lead is always a good position to be in. The Pioneers, however, were not done just yet.

The only play that had worked thus far for Malden’s offense was the slant pass. On a 3rd and 14 in their own territory, the Golden Tornados tried the slant once more. Senior linebacker Joseph Contardo read the quarterback’s eyes perfectly and stepped in front of the pass for an interception that gave Lynnfield one more shot before halftime.

Sixteen yards away from the end zone, the Pioneers turned to their work horse. Floramo continued mowing down Malden defenders with each carry and eventually broke the plane on a 7-yard rushing touchdown.

If the game wasn’t already decided by halftime with the 27-0 Lynnfield lead, it certainly would be early in the 3rd quarter.

On the second half’s first possession, the Pioneer defense continued to smother the Golden Tornado offense forcing yet another punt. John Lee, who had returned a punt for a touchdown in each of the first two games, trotted onto the field and looked to make it three. No Lynnfield return man in school history had ever taken a punt back to the house in three consecutive games.

Well, they say records were meant to be broken. Lee picked the bouncing ball up at his own 30 yard line and darted towards the middle of the field. With blockers out in front, Lee cut to his left and inevitably found himself in the record books 65 yards later.

“That punt return unit is something special,” claimed coach Lamusta. “I told them they have to take pride in that now, but they have to keep it coming.”

The Pioneers would keep it coming, cruising to a 33-6 victory to go 3-0 on the season.

Next week will be a huge test for this talented Lynnfield squad. The Pioneers travel on the road to take on another undefeated opponent in the 3-0 Pentucket Sachems.

“They’re pretty explosive,” exclaimed coach Lamusta on the upcoming opponent. “They’re in a new spread offense and they’re scoring a lot of points. We’re going to have our hands full defensively; we just need to keep the pressure on.”

The game will be played on Saturday. It is now at 2 p.m. instead of the originally scheduled 7 p.m. due to the increase in EEE.

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