GloucesterTimes.com, Gloucester, MA

Sports

October 19, 2012

ME to begin play in stacked NEC/CAL Tier 4

As his Manchester Essex teammates strutted off the field after the Hornets’ lone win this season -- a dramatic, last-minute victory over Pope John in September -- Manchester Essex quarterback Cory Burnham kept the win in perspective.

While it was nice for the Hornets to finally see their names in the win column, Burnham said, the most important part of the schedule was still ahead of them.

“What really matters is conference play,” Burnham said, “so hopefully we can get some momentum going.”

So while the Hornets enter tomorrow’s NEC/CAL Tier 4 opener at Hamilton-Wenham (2:00) sitting at a disappointing 1-5, the slate has been wiped clean.

That’s the good news.

The bad news? Things may only get tougher for the Hornets now that they’ve entered their five-game conference slate. Faced with the likes of Hamilton-Wenham, North Reading, Lynnfield, Ipswich and Georgetown, the Hornets have an uphill battle laid out in front of them.

To make matters worse, they open up with consecutive road games against likely the two strongest teams in Tier 4: Hamilton-Wenham tomorrow and North Reading next weekend.

The Generals (3-2), last season’s conference champions, are fresh off a trip to the Division 3A Super Bowl, and while some of that momentum may have waned with early season losses to Pentucket and Amesbury, they’re again riding high after an impressive overtime win over Bishop Fenwick last weekend.

And with the reigning Division 3A player of the year, quarterback Trevor Lyons, still under center for the Generals, they again appear to be the class of the conference.

Nipping at Hamilton-Wenham’s heels are North Reading and Lynnfield.

North Reading sits at 4-1 entering tomorrow’s game against Georgetown, and with solid non-conference wins over Tier 3 opponents Saugus, Amesbury and Pentucket, they’ve clearly already learned how to win.

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