Amesbury Indians Football '07

Tue, Nov 27, 2007 04:00 PM @ Neutral Location
Team Q1 Q2 Q3 Q4 Final
Playoff Game
Greater Lawrence 7 0 6 6 19
Amesbury 7 9 0 0 16
Greater Lawrence Tech 19, Amesbury 16. » Katie McMahon, Staff PhotographerMore photos

Amesbury made strides as a program

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Tuesday, November, 27 By Dan Guttenplan
Sports editor

ARLINGTON | Members of the Amesbury football team will be proud to wear their letterman jackets over the next nine months.

And that is, perhaps, the biggest sign of change for a historically stagnant program.

This season may symbolize the turning of a corner for a team that hasn't seen the other side of the mountain since the late-1980s and early-1990s. Never did the Indians of the last 15 years win Cape Ann League titles. Rarely did they see seasons with more wins than losses.

But that all changed last Thanksgiving when the Indians pulled off the first of what would become back-to-back Thanksgiving Day stunners over Newburyport.

The first victory gave the Indians hope. The second proved they can no longer be considered an also-ran in the CAL picture.

Last night's 19-16 loss to Greater Lawrence in the EMass. Division 3A semifinal will serve as a bump in the road for Amesbury. But those bumps can no longer sidetrack a program on the rise.

The last 12 months are evidence enough of that.

In that span, Amesbury has claimed as many Thanksgiving Day victories as it had in the previous 12 seasons. The Indians have one more CAL title than they captured in the previous 18 seasons. And they have one more postseason appearance than they had in their entire program's history.

"This put us on the map," Indians coach Thom Connors said. "Amesbury's never had a season like this. We had fun all weekend preparing for a playoff game. All of the school came out to see us, it's been great."

But the journey to the postseason didn't come without its share of adversity for Connors.

In 2002, he took over a program on the brink of hitting rock bottom. His first team went 0-11, and he struggled with numbers and enthusiasm. The long-time Newburyport High assistant had to be thinking, "I left greener pastures for this?"

But he didn't feel sorry for himself. He dug in and turned the program around.

Last year's Thanksgiving Day victory clinched the first .500 season in the Connors era. This year's training camp opened unlike any other for the Indians.

People had Amesbury as a potential CAL Small contender. And why not? They had a host of young players returning from last year's team.

But the journey to the top is never paved with preseason predictions. The Indians needed to learn that for themselves, and they did en route to an 0-3 start. Four weeks later, things didn't look any brighter when Amesbury found itself 2-5 with a league loss to its name.

"At that time, we would've had the highest odds in Vegas for making it as far as we did," Connors said. "We did well to get here."

To get there | the postseason | the Indians had to climb outside of the shell that had held the program down for years. Past Amesbury teams had started slow. Many of those fell by the wayside.

This team dug itself out, winning three games with its proverbial back against the wall.

Amesbury marched off the field solemnly last night, with Greater Lawrence joining in a team-wide cheer on the walk to the bus. The Amesbury players' faces told the story; it was a game they could've had, but it got away from them.

No one could say the locals didn't belong on the field with their Commonwealth Conference Large champion counterparts. The Indians played them tough and had them on the ropes at halftime (16-7, Amesbury).

But none of it mattered to the Indians when the scoreboard showed a final score of 19-16.

What matters for Amesbury going forward is no longer participation numbers, offseason conditioning or team morale as has been the case in years past. Rather, next season, wins and losses, league titles and Super Bowl appearances will be the sole priority.

That's how the Amesbury football program has changed over the last two seasons. And there may be a swarm of Amesbury High letterman jackets to prove it.

Dan Guttenplan is the sports editor of The Daily News. He can be reached at dguttenplan@ecnnews.com.

8 Story Comments

3         IndianFan26

Unbelievable game! WAY too close!

Report! #1 11/28/2007 05:48 AM

2         IndianFan26

BTW; Greater Lawrence....a much CLEANER team than Amesbury is used to going up against. No cheap shots, no whining......they seemed to be there without any pretext, just as Amesbury was.......to do what they love, play football! They should represent the division well, as Amesbury would have, on Saturday.

Report! #2 11/28/2007 06:29 AM

0         IndianFan26

oops, part of comment cut off...... no cheap shots, no elbows, no whining and they were losing throughout almost the entire game.....

Report! #3 11/28/2007 06:39 AM

2         Reggies87

When a trip to Gillette field is on the line you would expect two teams to come out and play with reckless abandon.I saw early on a GLT team play a little flat and Amesbury took it to them.I give Amesbury alot of credit they very easily could have won the ballgame ,but the Reggies have some tremendous leaders,Kids that never quit and a few exceptional talents that was the difference.The better team didn't play the best game but came back and showed character when it needed to and won.The Reggies need to play a Perfect game in the Super Bowl to win and I hope they step up on Defense( Big Joe will be their cheering on the Reggies). The coaching staff for Amesbury had a good game plan, the coaches made some adjustments, and attacked the Reggies.Their kids came to win a ballgame as they should .I give them props and they have a very good young team.With that said the Reggies had three goals- CAC Champs, Win Playoff ,Win Superbowl in Gillette.Two down and the PRIZE is their for the Best Team to Win .Don't lose Focus now.Play as a team ,and play the best 40 minutes of the season seniors. Best of Luck Joe P

Report! #4 11/28/2007 07:35 AM

0         bruinsgirl1

The game was well played by both teams.Amesbury you should hold your heads high for all your accomplishments. There is always next year. The community of Amesbury is very proud of the whole team. You guys played as a team.I am proud to call myself an Amesbury Indians fan.Good luck next year and good luck to the Reggies.

Report! #5 11/28/2007 07:51 PM

1         IndianFan26

A little sad today; as, now that the films have been gone over a million times with a fine tooth comb; there is nowhere to be found a HOLD which got Amesbury's third touchdown called back. This play has been scoured over on the films by dozens of coaches, and there was no holding by anyone. The players realize that refs can make bad calls, but did it have to be at THIS game? The fumble by the Lawrence player, which was called NOT a fumble by the ref....well, on the film, you can see the Lawrence quarterback looking at the fumble and putting his hands up to his head in dismay because he saw the fumble, himself. Sad. I guess these things happen?

Report! #6 11/29/2007 05:54 AM

-1         Sportsfan2

We should not be sad about this game. Honestly, we were very lucky even to be there. Had Newburyport played with a full team we wouldnt have even been at this game so we'll take what we can get.

Report! #7 11/29/2007 08:27 AM

1         Football Fan

Coach Connors of Amesbury was just named coach of the year for the CAL by the Newburyport News!

Report! #8 11/29/2007 11:58 AM