EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Sports

September 27, 2013

Countdown to kickoff

TALKING TURKEY

Are you frying your turkey on Friday night or letting it savor, slow-roasting in your smoker all day Saturday.

Thanksgiving comes early in Massachusetts where holiday rivals Central and Andover, Methuen and Dracut, Greater Lawrence and Whittier, Pentucket and Triton, and Georgetown and Manchester all collide.

Throw in the Saturday night special, the Mack Plaque trophy weekend decider in Londonderry at Pinkerton and you’re talking a huge slate of high school football into which you can sink your teeth.

SATURDAY NIGHT’S ALL RIGHT

Expect someone between 3,000 to 4,000 fans to trek through the woods, led by the sparkling new lights at Pinkerton’s football stadium when the Londonderry Lancers invade Saturday evening.

With both rivals at 2-1, it’s a clash with huge implications, something we haven’t seen in this one since 2008 when the 3-1 Astros knocked off the 4-0 Lancers in coach Jon Rich’s first season on the sidelines.

“Our kids understand we played pretty well last week (in a loss to unbeaten Bedford). With six minutes left, it was a 7-0 game,” said Rich. “If we bring that effort again Saturday night, they know it will be a ballgame.”

Despite how Londonderry hasn’t won this game since 2001, Rich said his kids believe and that he didn’t need to sell them on being able to win.

“We’ve lost, so obviously we’re vulnerable,” said Astros coach Brian O’Reilly. “But we’re getting there. All these rankings with us No. 1 in the state early in the season were nice, but nobody paid attention to the fact that we had to replace our entire offensive line and three-quarters of our backfield. We’re going to be fine. But we’re not quite there yet.”

Stop Manny Latimore and you stop Pinkerton. But the Lancers? It’s tough to focus in on just one weapon in Rich’s single-wing attack.

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