Apr. 10—IPSWICH — True to his roots as a country music fan, Alex Yanakakis wore a black cowboy hat and large faux diamond earrings when talking with reporters postgame on Friday evening. When that was over, the Ipswich High senior captain and lineman headed out to the parking lot outside of Jack Welch Stadium, hopped on his motorcycle and waved to those same reporters as he confidently exited the premises.
Yanakakis and his Tiger teammates had every right to showcase the swagger they were undoubtedly feeling on this night.
Authoritative for virtually the entire 40-minute contest, Ipswich flexed its muscles in a battle with fellow unbeaten Lynnfield, getting 154 yards on the ground from senior captain Cole Terry and two touchdown receptions from fellow captain Justin Bruhm in a no-doubt-about-it 33-7 victory.
“No one wants Ipswich to win. We’re a small town, tough, and people like to see the ball get thrown for long yards and touchdowns,” said Yanakakis. “But that just feeds us. We feed off of that energy.”
It was a dominant effort for Ipswich (4-0) from start — when kicker Rowan Silva recovered a Pioneer fumble on the opening kickoff, leading to his team’s first score — to finish, as the hosts averaged over 7.3 yards per offensive play while controlling the line of scrimmage from the get-go.
Defensively it may have been an even better showing for the Tigers, who held a Lynnfield offense averaging 222 passing yards per game to just 22 until the visitor’s final possession against the IHS backups. Ipswich’s starters also held the Pioneers (now 4-1) to four first downs over three-and-a-half quarters of play. Ends Nikhil Walker and Tony Parro, along with Yanakakis at nose tackle, were particularly aggressive.
“We played our style of football, which is smashmouth,” said senior captain Jack Wile, another member of Ipswich’s stellar offensive line. “We didn’t want their offense on the field; we just kept running the ball right down their throats. We came out with an edge.”
With Chase Huntley sidelined Friday while resting an injury, Terry knew he’d be asked to pick up more of the Tiger workload offensively. He relished the opportunity by churning out chunk plays running buck sweeps, belly and tosses behind a rotating front eight (Walker, Aidan Lewis and Wile at the tackles, Yanakakis, Joe Parro and Joe Gillis at guards, and Nathan Stevens and Jackson DeGrappo at center) that, coached by Peter Ginolfi, found little resistance in the trenches.
“They played physical and were grinding it out the whole game,” Terry said of his offensive linemen. “It just demoralizes (another) team when you just get smashed in the mouth over and over.”
“That’s the Cole Train right there,” added Wile (as opposed to John Coltrane, the legendary jazz saxophonist). “He’s our bell cow.”
Head coach Kevin Fessette, whose parents came from Plattsburgh, N.Y. to watch the game, said he recalled when he and his staff came to Ipswich in 2015, taking it on the chin against Lynnfield in a 31-0 pasting.
“We got beat so bad we didn’t get a first down until the final quarter against their (backups),” he said. “It was our goal at that time to be as competitive as these guys some day, so this shows that these kids have come a long way to flip the switch and do the right thing.
“The No. 1 thing there is discipline,” he added. “I’m not saying they’re angels, but they’re doing the right things and doing the little extra things so when you get out there in games, it’s already moving in the right direction. It’s already there.”
For the second straight week, the Tigers scored on a halfback option pass as Terry flung a perfect 32-yard spiral to Bruhm down the right sideline midway through the second quarter.
“For this game (the coaches) told me to be ready to catch the ball,” said Bruhm, “and when that halfback pass is coming, I feel amazing when I hear that play. It’s my favorite play; I know Cole’ll put it right there for me.”
“Credit to coach (Fessette) right there,” added Yanakakis. “They’re expecting another smash up the middle, and we come out with something like that. Coach probably didn’t sleep last night thinking of ways to beat this team … and it worked, so credit to him.”
Following a nice punt return into Lynnfield territory by Bruhm on the ensuing series, he cashed in again when quarterback Aiden Arnold deftly executed a play action pass, rolled left and found him wide open in the left corner from 23 yards out. That made 19-0 for the hosts with just under a minute until halftime.
“We want to throw it when it’s convenient for us,” said Fessette, whose team is averaging just three passes per game. “We don’t want anyone else dictating what we do.”
It was Arnold who pushed his way into the end zone on Ipswich’s opening series, capping off a seven-play, 45-yard drive with a 1-yard sneak.
Intent on picking up where they left off, Ipswich took the second half kickoff and marched 61 yards to paydirt in 10 plays, with Terry grinding out 34 yards on five carries. The last of those was a 4-yard inside jaunt on 4th-and-2, with Silva’s extra point kick extending the lead to 26-0.
The Tigers officially put the game away by scoring on its fourth straight possession early in the fourth quarter. Sophomore Henry Wright’s first career trip to the end zone, a 1-yard off-tackle play, followed runs of 12, 13, 16 and 13 by Terry and, just before the actual score, an 8-yard sweep left by David Lonergan (61 yards on 8 carries) as Ipswich continued to batter away at the Lynnfield defense.
Lynnfield avoided the shutout with 2:58 remaining when D.J. Capachietti bulled his way into the end zone from 13 yards out. It culminated a nine-play, 80-yard sore, highlighted by a terrific one-handed grab by standout receiver Jack Ford for an 18-yard pickup.
Ipswich 33, Lynnfield 7
at Jack Welch Stadium, Ipswich
Lynnfield (4-1) 0 0 0 7 — 7
Ipswich (4-0) 6 13 7 7 — 33
I-Aiden Arnold 1 run (kick failed)
I-Justin Bruhm 32 pass from Cole Terry (rush failed)
I-Bruhm 23 pass from Arnold (Rowan Silva kick)
I-Terry 4 run (Silva kick)
I-Henry Wright 1 run (Silva kick)
L-D.J. Capachietti 13 run (Charles Capachietti kick)
RUSHING: Lynnfield — D.J. Capachietti 9-55, Austin Sutera 7-41, Joe LaFerla 2-4; Ipswich — Cole Terry 19-154, David Lonergan 8-61, Malcolm MacDonald 2-19, Aiden Arnold 6-18, Zach McCormick 1-7, Henry Wright 3-2, Joe Powis 1-0.
PASSING: Lynnfield — Sutera 7-17-58-0-1; Ipswich — Terry 1-1-32-1-0; Arnold 1-2-23-1-0.
RECEIVING: Lynnfield — Jack Ford 3-37, LaFerla 1-8, James Considine 1-6, Bakari Mitchell 1-4, Capachietti 1-3; Ipswich — Justin Bruhm 2-55.