Manchester Essex Hornets Football '08

Sat, Oct 04, 2008 TBA @ Endicott College
Team Final
Shawsheen 0
Manchester Essex 35

Hornets finally defeat Shawsheen with strong defensive effort

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Monday, October, 06 By By Nick Curcuru Staff Writer

 BEVERLY - Saturday's game with Commonwealth Conference large powerhouse Shawsheen Tech was supposed to be Manchester Essex's first big test of the season.

The Hornets had not beaten the Rams since 1999, and many of those losses were not even close.

Well, just because a game was supposed to be close, doesn't mean it will end up that way.

The Hornets (4-0) picked up right where they left off in their previous three games handing Shawsheen a 34-0 beating at Endicott College.

Needless to say, Hornets head coach Mike Athanas once again liked what he saw from his team.

"This was an impressive performance," Athanas said. "We had a great week of practice and the kids did a great job. They came out and did what they were supposed to do and it feels great."

While the Hornets put up 34 points of offense, it was their stifling defense that stole the show. Manchester Essex had an answer for everything Shawsheen threw at it, holding the Rams to 150 yards of total offense.

Rams running back Cory Foss came into the contest fresh off a 200-yard performance the previous week, but was held to just 50 yards on 20 carries by a swarming Hornets defense. Foss ran tough, rarely being taken down by first contact, but there was always another Hornet there ready to put a hit on him.

Captains Max Quirk and Clayton Morrissey led the way for the Hornets on the defensive end. The two senior linebackers combined for over 20 tackles and three sacks.

"Max played the game of his life on defense today," Athanas said. "Clayton was phenomenal too. They play opposite sides at linebacker and they contained the outside and kept the game between the tackles. The defense really held the game for us today, it was a total team effort. They did exactly what they needed to do and the result was great."

Quirk echoed Athanas sentiment in praising the defense.

"Our defense has been amazing from our defensive line to the safeties," Quirk said. "Everyone trusts each other and we're playing together. It's unbelievable out there."

The Hornets got the scoring going right away when Jack Bishop scampered 37 yards for a touchdown on their second offensive play of the day. Bishop appeared to be stopped at the 30, but he bulldozed one defender, bounced off another and out ran the rest to make it 6-0.

Manchester Essex struck quickly on its next drive too, running three plays before quarterback Pat Orlando hit Brian Ciccone for a 66-yard touchdown pass. Ciccone added a two-point conversion to make it 14-0, where it stood after one quarter.

After a scoreless second quarter, the Hornets offense came out guns blazing in the third, adding two more touchdowns. Ben Kekeisen took a 31-yard pass from Orlando on the team's first drive to make it 21-0. On their very next drive, Orlando scrambled 44 yards for a score to make it 27-0 after three. Orlando looked to be sacked but rolled out of the pocket, then reversed his field on his way to the end zone.

Ciccone added a 66-yard touchdown run in the fourth to make it 34-0.

"We did it all on offense well today too, throwing, running and passing," Athanas said. "And they made us work today. It was great seeing us convert a few third-and-long situations and it was nice to see us take it to a bigger team."

As for the Hornet players, they were psyched to prove that they could hang with the big boys, especially a team that they haven't had much success with in the past.

"Us seniors haven't beaten these guys until today so we are pumped right now," Quirk said. "We knew we had a good team this year and that we could hang with these guys. It was nice to come out and execute the way we can and put up a big win."

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