The Manchester Essex football team has a new-look schedule in 2019 with six brand new regular season opponents.
The Hornets have dropped out of the Cape Ann League in the sport, where they played from 2011-18, and have adopted an independent schedule.
The CAL has been a tough road for Manchester Essex over the last eight seasons as it sported a record of 11-27 since moving over from the Commonwealth Athletic Conference. With participation numbers becoming an issue, being the smallest school in the conference over the last three seasons was an extremely tough road as the other four CAL Baker schools all play in higher divisions.
The Hornets will be eligible for the postseason this fall in Division 7 North as they have a six-game schedule. The team played five games last fall and was not eligible to play in the state tournament, but rattled off four straight wins to finish 2018 with a 4-5 mark, giving them some momentum heading into this season.
The team is also more experienced a year ago, with starters returning all over the lineup.
Here's a look at the six new teams Manchester Essex will take on this fall:
THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 5 AT KIPP ACADEMY
KIPP Academy, a charter school out of Lynn, is a fairly new varsity program in its third season. The Panthers posted a record of 4-5 last fall while also playing an independent schedule.
KIPP is a team in a similar spot to Manchester Essex, being a smaller school with lower numbers. Historically the Hornets fare well against teams that are similar in size, as they showed at the end of last season.
FRIDAY, SEPT. 20 AT BRIGHTON
After a bye week (the first of two in the regular season), the Hornets will travel to Brighton. The Bengals are historically one of the stronger teams in the Boston City League but had a rebuilding season in 2018, missing out on the Division 7 North playoffs and finishing with a record of 4-7.
This is a battle of two teams looking to break into the postseason and a potential state tournament preview.
FRIDAY, SEPT. 27 VS BOSTON ENGLISH
Manchester Essex's home opener at Hyland Field could be the team's first big test of the regular season as the defending Boston City League champs and a Division 8 North finalist last fall comes to town.
Boston English is consistently strong and will be a key midseason barometer for the Hornets.
FRIDAY, OCTOBER 11 VS ROXBURY CHARTER
After a second bye week, the Hornets host another Division 8 North postseason squad from 2018 in Roxbury Charter. This is only Roxbury Charter's second year of varsity football — which is a big advantage for the Hornets, who have players with two previous years of varsity experience on the roster.
FRIDAY, OCT. 18 VS BEDFORD
Manchester Essex beefed up its schedule late with a pair of higher division teams in the final two weeks prior to the state playoffs. Bedford High struggled last autumn, going 1-6 in the regular season, but is a small school in a big conference (Dual County League), much like Manchester Essex was in the CAL. Expect a physical, close contest.
FRIDAY, OCT. 25 VS ARLINGTON CATHOLIC
The regular season finale comes against another higher division team. Arlington Catholic struggled in 2018 in missing the playoffs and is looking to improve this season. This game should have serious postseason implications.
FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 1: MIAA PLAYOFFS BEGIN
The Hornets will be competing in Division 7 North along with Brighton, Chelsea, East Boston, Georgetown, Greater Lawrence, Green Academy, Latin Academy, Lowell Catholic, Mystic Valley, Nashoba Tech, O'Bryant and St. Mary's of Lynn. With 13 teams in the sectional, the Hornets will probably have to finish at least .500 to earn a spot and should be comfortably safe at 4-2 or better.
THURSDAY, NOV. 28 AT GEORGETOWN
The annual Thanksgiving rivalry game is in Georgetown this year, and Manchester Essex will be looking to make it three in a row on the holiday when the teams meet in late November.
2019 Manchester Essex Football Schedule
Date Opponent Time
Thursday, Sept. 5 at KIPP Academy 7 p.m.
Friday, Sept. 20 at Brighton 6:30 p.m.
Friday, Sept. 27 vs. Boston English 7 p.m.
Friday, Oct. 11 vs. Roxbury Charter 7 p.m.
Friday, Oct. 18 vs. Bedford 7 p.m.
Friday, Oct. 25 vs. Arlington Catholic 7 p.m.
Thursday, Nov. 28 at Georgetown 10 a.m.