HAMILTON – The game plan for the Manchester Essex football team for Saturday’s conference-opener was simple: stop, or at least contain, Trevor Lyons.
As the Hornets found out Saturday, that’s no easy task.
The reigning Division 3A Player of the Year and senior quarterback for Hamilton-Wenham shredded the Manchester Essex defense from the opening kickoff, piling up 202 total yards and five touchdowns to pace a 43-13 blowout win for the Generals.
“You’ve got to play a mistake-free game against those guys,” Manchester Essex coach Mike Athanas said. “We did some good things, but it’s just a matter of not being able to keep up with it and a couple key mistakes that turned the game around.
“They’re going to score. That kid’s a dynamic player and he makes plays. You just try to contain him.”
That containment plan paid immediate dividends for the Hornets. In an attempt to keep the ball out of Lyons’ hands on the opening kickoff, Manchester Essex opted for a low squib kick.
Cory Burnham’s kick clanged off a member of the Generals’ frontline and the Hornets recovered, and five plays later, Burnham hit Brian McAuliff for a 29-yard touchdown strike to put the Hornets up 7-0 just three minutes into the game.
That was about all the luck the Hornets would get in their attempts to stifle Lyons. The star signal-caller found the end zone on each of the Generals’ first five possessions, dancing through holes and breaking tackles to pile up 157 yards and four touchdowns on the ground.
Lyons, who’s among the North Shore’s leaders in passing yards on the year, only dropped back six times. The Generals (4-2) were content keeping the ball on the ground.
And by the time Generals’ coach Andrew Morency pulled his offensive starters at the start of the fourth quarter, it was clear that that strategy worked just fine.