The Manchester-Essex Hornets football squad answered the call this Saturday with a 30–7 blowout of division rival Georgetown in the first round of the Massachusetts High School Division 7 football playoffs. Sophomore A.J. Pallazola ignited the show on both sides of the ball with a 40-yard touchdown pass, a fumble recovery and a 100-yard “pick six” touchdown return off an interception. The Hornets advance to the state semifinals for the first time since 2013.
The first half started as a nail-biter with Georgetown scoring a touchdown on their opening possession. But Pallazola kept a second quarter drive alive with a 26 yard “fake punt” run, and Hornet junior tailback Gavin Glass punched a “two-yarder” into the end zone to tie the score going into the second half. The third quarter saw Glass finish a 55-yard drive with a six-yard touchdown run, and the home team Hornets went on to completely dominate the fourth.
Seniors Anthony Rano and Tristan Nowak excelled on both offense and defense. Rano made key tackles all over the field, slamming two dramatic sacks on the Georgetown quarterback, and Nowak led the Hornets in receiving yardage and recorded an interception and touchdown. Will Levendusky, Lars Arnsten, Ben Flood and Joseph Daly also contributed outstanding play. “Big Leg” Luke Gjerde drilled a 32-yard field goal.
The ME Hornets will face Georgetown again for the traditional Thanksgiving Day rival game in Georgetown and will play their MIAA North Division 7 semi-final against Boston Latin Academy this Saturday, November 9 at Hyland Field. Kickoff is at 12:00 p.m.