Newburyport Clippers Football '07

Sat, Nov 10, 2007 11:00 AM @ Lynnfield
Team Q1 Q2 Q3 Q4 Final
Newburyport 0 14 0 0 14
Lynnfield 0 0 0 0 0
Newburypory vs Lynnfield » Jim Vaiknoras, Staff PhotographerMore photos

Newburyport could be without Clancy on Thanksgiving after altercation

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Saturday, November, 10 By Dan Guttenplan
Staff writer

LYNNFIELD | It was a meaningless play in the closing minutes of a decided victory, but for the Newburyport football team, it may turn out to be the most costly 15 seconds of the season.

With 4:38 remaining in Newburyport's 14-0 victory at Lynnfield on Saturday, and the final score already on the board, Clippers quarterback Joe Clancy had a physical altercation with Lynnfield linebacker Nick Tropeano after he misfired on a potential touchdown pass to Ashlyn Calcagni.

The result: Clancy and Tropeano were ejected, which by Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association rule, would make them both ineligible for their teams' Thanksgiving Day games.

"It doesn't look good," Newburyport coach Ed Gaudiano said. "We'll see if the officials file a report of the incident. It certainly looks like that's be the case because they asked for the forms."

The play which resulted in the dual ejections started at the Lynnfield 11 with Port leading 14-0. Clancy unleashed his first passing attempt in more than a quarter | a slant to Calcagni | that fell short. After the whistle, Tropeano and Clancy traded shoves before the Lynnfield senior threw a series of punches. Clancy, in Gaudiano's opinion, attempted to protect himself by repeatedly pushing Tropeano's shoulder pads with two hands.

"It looked to me like Joe was trying to get away, and the other kid was throwing haymakers," Gaudiano said. "I hope someone had it on video so we can state our case to the MIAA."

If Clancy does serve a one-game suspension, it would prove costly for Newburyport.

The junior came into his own this fall after an up-and-down season in which he split time at quarterback. He's been the engineer of an explosive offensive attack that has amassed 1,230 passing yards. His 17 touchdowns passes are two shy of the program record of 19 set by Larry Russell in 1966.

Russell's attack was known as the "Point a Minute Offense" due to its feat of tallying more than a point a minute for an entire season.

But it's been Clancy's maturity, up until Saturday's altercation, that has been most impressive.

After a miserable Thanksgiving Day performance last fall in which he failed to complete a pass and threw four interceptions, he's been relatively flawless this fall. He has avoided the mistakes as is evidenced by his touchdown to interception ration of 17:4.

Another sign of Clancy's growing maturity is his mastery of the Clippers' offense. Countless times this season, he's stalled his snap count to realign teammates so as to avoid illegal formation penalties.

"Losing Joe on Thanksgiving would be tough," Gaudiano said. Clancy's replacement would be freshman Matt Mottola, who has yet to complete a pass.

Gaudiano's immediate frustration as a result of the altercation was evident when he ran the width of the field toward the Lynnfield's sideline to separate the players. He then exchanged words with the Pioneers' coaching staff before returning to the Clippers' sideline.

Gaudiano addressed the Lynnfield team following the game and apologized for his conduct.

"I shot my mouth off, and I shouldn't have," Gaudiano said. "There was no reason for it, and I wanted to apologize."

Lynnfield coach Bill Adams refused to comment on the ejections.

"They have a good team," Adams said. "I don't want to comment on that other stuff."

Gaudiano said he would appeal any suspension the MIAA dealt Clancy. The junior also plays basketball, so a delayed penalty could result in Clancy missing a contest during the winter sports season.

Newburyport will play Amesbury (4-5) in its annual rivalry game Thanksgiving morning. The winner will claim the CAL Small title.

"Our coach told us after the game, we've had adversity all season," Newburyport sophomore Kyle LeBlanc said. "We'll have to overcome adversity again on Thanksgiving | with or without Joe."

Serving as the thunder to Kyle LeBlanc's lightning, Justin Burl (26 carries, 202 yards) broke the 200-yard mark for rushing for the first time in his career. The workhorse split his rushing yardage evenly, notching 101 in each half.

LeBlanc served as the touchdown specialist, scoring on 29- and 1-yard runs. His offensive output (11 carries, 49 yards) paled in comparison to his defensive work; he had three interceptions and more than 50 return yards.

"We keyed on their passing game all week," LeBlanc said. "We worked on it a lot in preparation."

It was the third shutout of the season for the Clippers; they've also blanked Triton and North Reading.

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