The Lynn English football team, newly crowned champion of the Northeastern Conference/Cape Ann Large Division, is gearing up for an historic matchup against defending state champion Everett [pending a win over Cambridge] in the Eastern Mass. playoffs on November 29 at Manning Field.
But head coach Peter Holey has his team’s sights solely on Lynn Classical and Thanksgiving morning.
“It’s the biggest game of the year – I don’t care what we’re doing after Thanksgiving,” said Holey, the Bulldogs fourth-year coach who played in the Cotton Bowl while a football player at Boston College.
And who’s going to argue with Holey’s one-game-at-a-time philosophy, certainly not after he and his staff re-energized the English football program, built the team into a perennial championship contender [7 wins or more the past four years] and took the current Bulldogs to the top.
The sweep of Cape Ann League power Masconomet and preseason favorite North Andover brought English its first title since 1990 when athletic director Gary Molea was coach.
Holey said he recognized early that his current team could achieve some great things.
“I saw a willingness to work in these kids,” said Holey. “The seniors on this team bought into what we were trying to do in our program right away. Everybody seemed to follow their example with their work ethic in the weight room and on the practice field and their general attitude toward football. I’m just happy for them that the fruits of their labor have been rewarded.”
The turning point in the Bulldogs’ championship season came in a non-league victory over Malden.
“We struggled a little bit offensively and we weren’t in synch and our defense stepped up,” said Holey. “So it was a real team win and the kids relied on one another more than they had to up that point in the season. They rallied and they were able to finish the game. That’s the point where they knew they had to play for four quarters.”
Holey said the seven captains provided outstanding leadership, citing the contributions from Michael Dwyer, Jemerson Flores, Corey Moreau, P.J. Dorsey, Jeremy Lessard, Erik Holey, and Brendan Holey.
“That’s what brought us to this point: leadership,
said Holey. “The seven captains have led these kids in the weight room, summer workouts, and through the season. They’ve done a fine job. Our whole senior class was tremendous.”
Senior Jermaine Kelley became an excellent field general and an inspirational leader of the Bulldogs’ high-scoring offense.
“Jermaine Kelley stepped up as a leader from the get go,” said Holey. “The kids started to believe in him and he’s the guy on offense that they look to.”
Looking ahead, Holey said if you understand the dynamic of Lynn football then you realize that “Thanksgiving Day is it” for English and Classical football players. But he is happy that there will be a game on the Bulldogs’ schedule next week.
“There isn’t a finality to the season,” said Holey. “With this group I’m just happy that I get to spend at least another four or five days with these guys. This is our first senior class and they’ve been a pleasure and privilege to coach. I’m really excited the playoff gives us at least another five days, maybe more, to spend with these kids which is a great opportunity for us.”