Spartan football gears up for playoff run
By Joe Kasper
The St. Mary’s Spartans of Lynn will be getting ready for the opening round of the playoffs that begin this Friday night at Manning Bowl (5 p.m.). The Spartans are set to take on the Manchester Essex/Rockport Hornets (3-4). After going undefeated for the second year in a row and earning the top seed in division 7 north, the Spartans plan on continuing their success in the playoffs the same way they did in the regular season. After Friday night’s 36-6 victory over league rival Austin Prep, the Spartans have been bumped up to #16 in the Boston Globe poll and solidified themselves as the team to beat going into the playoffs.
The Spartans have been on a roll on both the offensive and defensive side of the ball this season. The Spartans offense, led by senior quarterback Calvin Johnson has outscored opponents 308-72. With an offensive that can pound the ball up the middle and throw the long ball, opposing defenses have yet to find a way to stop the Spartans offensive success. On the defensive side of the ball, the Spartans have been great. Allowing only 72 points over 7 games.
After winning their division last year but coming up short in the Division 3A Super Bowl with a 34-8 loss against East-Bridgewater, the Spartans are not settling for anything less than bringing that state title back to Lynn. The Spartans are not looking too far ahead though. They are focused on Friday’s game and will take it one day at a time. No team is going to be taken lightly. If the Spartans can continue their regular season dominance in the playoffs, opposing teams are going to have a very tough time containing them on offense and an even tougher time trying to move the ball against the Spartan’s ferocious defense.
Richards and his Classical freshman volleyball team have a 14-0 record
By Cary Shuman
There is no season better than a perfect one and the Lynn Classical freshman volleyball team was hoping to accomplish that feat today.
Head coach Luke Richards leads his 14-0 Lady Rams contingent in to its final match Thursday afternoon at Beverly. A victory would mark the second consecutive undefeated season for Richards, a teacher at Classical, and also an assistant men’s basketball coach at Endicott College.
Most of the ninth graders arrive in the program with little or no volleyball experience but Richards has been able to build an athletic, close-knit squad that has defeated all of its Northeastern Conference opponents.
“I’m fortunate that I have a good group of girls – good players,” said Richards. “It’s a testament to them that they work hard at practice and they just get better every day. At this level, serving the ball is a important facet and we have some excellent servers.”
Brooke Warren, Sheilleda Joseph, Cherish Nwoko, AndryVaquez and Andrea Brazell have delivered many points with their consistently accurate and powerful serves.
Warren, daughter of Classical Vice Principal Chris Warren and Leah Warren, has been particularly impressive in her rookie season. Brooke is also an exceptional softball pitcher.
“Brooke’s come up the biggest for us at times,” lauded Richards.
A former basketball player at Peabody High and assistant coach at St. John’s Prep (when NBA player Patrick Connaughton starred and the Eagles won a state title in 2011), Richards, 34, said he enjoys his teaching and coaching positions at Classical.
“The VPs (Vice Principals) are the best,” said Richards. “Mr. Constantino (principal) is the best. Mr. Devin (director of athletics) runs a great athletic program.”
Richards said there are close to 50 players in the Classical volleyball program. “[Varsity coach] Frank DeLuca does a great job. Every since I’ve been teaching here [for six years], they’ve made the tournament (The Classical varsity clinched a postseason berth with a win over English Tuesday). Chris LeBlanc does a terrific job at the JV level. We have a great group of girls that make us look us good.”