Now that enough time has passed and we've been able to step outside of the hustle and bustle of football season, it strikes me as pretty impressive that Pinkerton won its third straight state championship.
"This is unbelievable," senior quarterback Peter Mazzola said after the championship game. "So many people don't have the chance to get one championship, and we've been here four times and won three straight. That's amazing."
In 2006, the closest game Pinkerton played in was a 17-14 win over Nashua South. The next smallest margin of victory came in a 27-7 win over Salem in the state title game. Apart from one game, no one came within three scores of the mighty Astros.
This year, the Astros had a handful of games that were blowouts (a 53-6 win at Memorial springs to mind), but many more were very close. Pinkerton had to do something to which it was unaccustomed: find ways to claw out the win instead of executing an impressive scorched-earth policy across a swath of Division 1 opponents.
Plus, the Astros actually lost, twice, which they hadn't done in what seemed like forever. The two losses, by the way, were by a combined score of 84-26 and account for almost half of the total points Pinkerton gave up this season.
The Astros haven't struggled in the past as they did this year, but they almost always rose to the challenge. Under head coach Brian O'Reilly (whom the players, to a man, came just short of calling a genius), the Astros settled for grinding out tough wins because, frankly, they didn't have the superstars of years past. However, if the Astros' dominant performance in the championship game proved one thing, it's that it's pretty much impossible to beat Pinkerton twice.
Bryan Farris, Ryan Lambert and Graeme Clohosey weren't walking through that door, but Pete Mazzola, Josh Lane and Bobby Dattilo didn't need them to.
Despite a paucity of players putting up big individual numbers, Pinkerton still scored the second-most points in Div. 1 (294, behind Londonderry's eye-popping total of 346) and allowed the third-fewest (182, behind Salem's 153 and Londonderry's 181). Salem, of course, played two fewer games than did Pinkerton, and one fewer than Londonderry.
But what should be the most frightening prospect for Div. 1 going forward isn't that Pinkerton doesn't have to blow you out to win, but the fact that they're only going to get better. Yes, the aforementioned trio of this season's big-time seniors will be tough to replace, but Pinkerton got big-time play out of a bunch of underclassmen too.
Look no further than Eric Guinto, who piled up 237 on 20 carries in the two playoff games. He also scored twice in those games, on a 33-yard run against West and the back-breaking 82-yarder against South. Guinto, whose speed, according to several Astros, is unmatched in New Hampshire, is only a sophomore.
But what of the hole at quarterback left by the departure of Peter Mazzola? Luke Somers, who took just a handful of varsity snaps this year in mop-up duty, seems to be O'Reilly's guy going forward. All reports indicate O'Reilly is high on the sophomore field general, though, and the few plays he did run that I happened to see were impressive. He was at least as poised as a few senior quarterbacks from around Div. 1.
For an Astros team that won three straight, the fact that its future is brightening does not bode well for Div. 1.
Online honors for Theodhosi
Apparently, there are more devotees of the Wing T [Single-Wing] than I thought.
The distinctive offensive style that Londonderry ran so well this year is the subject of an entire blog, the Single Wing Sentinel (swsentinel.blogspot.com).
The reason it came onto my radar is because Londonderry's Alex Theodhosi, the first area running back since at least the early 1990s to break 2,000 yards on the ground, earned the Sentinel's "prestigious" Single Wing Running Back Athlete of the Month award. They even used a picture from the Derry News and will be hearing from our team of lawyers (not really).
By the way, the Sentinel does keep a very good record of a number of football teams that run the single wing. If you really like the way Londonderry runs its offense, you might also like hearing about the Colonial Beach (Calif.) Drifters or the Stone Bridge (Va.) Bulldogs.
Just further proof that the list of things that people will dedicate a Web site to is seemingly endless.
P.O. Box 307
Derry, NH 03038