Sep. 23—Newburyport. Triton.
Those are the only two words you need to hear if you're still trying to figure out where to go Friday night.
The longtime crosstown rivals will once again square up on opposite sidelines for the sixth annual "Border Battle," scheduled to kick off at 6:30 p.m. from the beautiful field at Triton Regional. Of course, the two programs have been beating the snot out of each other long before six years ago, but 2017 was when the rivalry "rebranded" and put a trophy on the line.
And it's a trophy that's never left 241 High Street.
It's been five straight wins for Newburyport dating back to the start of the Battle, and since 2012 the Clippers have owned the rivalry going 8-3 against the Vikings.
There was the 19-12 finish in 2017, with former great Myles Maloof scoring an 11-yard TD in the fourth quarter to give Newburyport a two-score lead. and who could forget the 2018 classic, when Seamus Webster's 11-yard run and Charles Cahalane's 2-point conversion with 3:05 left capped a 14-point comeback in the Clippers' 15-14 victory?
"The kids get up for this game as much as Thanksgiving," said Newburyport coach Ben Smolski before last year's game.
Speaking of which, who else remembers that game last year? Triton again jumped out to a 14-0 lead in the first half — as they did in 2018 — but two Finn Sullivan rushing touchdowns in the fourth quarter capped Newburyport's epic 19-14 comeback win.
Are the Vikings just cursed?
Friday night, both teams will enter the game at 1-1, with Newburyport having beat Masconomet (28-20) before falling to Bedford (34-15), and Triton having beat Randolph (23-6) before falling to Shawsheen (27-20). Will this be the year the Vikings earn their first win over their rivals since 2016?
Well, to figure out what the committee (of one) at the Daily News thinks, you'll have to keep reading.
Quickly looking back at last week, though, it was a bit of a rough outing for your's truly, as I went 2-3. Amesbury certainly looked the part of the defending CAL champs in a 50-12 win over Wayland, and things did look better for Georgetown depite falling to Tech Boston, 26-8.
But the other three games went the other way — despite all being close.
Let's get back over .500 on the year this week!
Newburyport (1-1) at Triton (1-1), 6:30 p.m.
With the history of games between these two, especially recently, I'd be shocked if Friday didn't come down to the final possession. Both quarterbacks — Newburyport's Sean Miles and Triton's Max Ciaramitaro — have performed well so far and have plenty of weapons, but where this game will be won is on the lines. With Ashton Wonson leading both of those fronts, the Vikings should be able to protect Ciaramitaro and get pressure on the other end. Defensively, Jack Hadden, Peter Osazuwa, Chris Salvatore, Gus Webster, Ryan Miles and Niko Silverio all made plays for the Clippers last week, but Bedford and quarterback Eric Miles were still electric in rushing for 313 yards as a team. The Vikings, meanwhile, nearly made the comeback last week at Shawsheen (2-0), and the Rams beat a Bedford team in Week 1 that beat the Clippers last week.
Man, this is the definition of a toss-up. But give me the home team to break the curse!
Prediction: Triton 27, Newburyport 20
Pentucket (0-2) at North Reading (2-0), 6 p.m.
Pentucket nearly pulled off the road upset last week before a late touchdown lifted Dracut to an 18-14 win. It'll be tougher sledding this week for the Panthers, as the undefeated Hornets have returned a bunch of talent from a roster that made the Division 5 championship game last fall. Reigning CAL Kinney MVP Alex Carucci is back as the team's QB, and fellow All-CAL selections Craig Rubino (WR/DB) Sam Morelli (OL/MLB), Anthony Pino (DL) and Will Batten (RB/LB) have also returned. Batten, a 6-foot, 180-pound junior and bruiser of a back, rushed for 157 yards on 27 carries and a TD in the Hornets' playoff win over the Panthers last year. Don't let North Reading's two wins this year over smaller Commonwealth Conference opponents fool you (Northeast: 35-20; Greater Lawrence: 44-17). The Hornets are very good, and will seriously compete not only for a CAL title, but for a state title.
Prediction: North Reading 35, Pentucket 13
Hamilton-Wenham (1-1) at Amesbury (1-0), 6:30 p.m.
This was Amesbury's only loss in the CAL from a year ago, and something tells me that Coach Colin McQueen and the returning talent on his roster will be eager to avenge it at home. The Generals beat Gloucester in Week 1 before falling to Watertown in Week 2, but the uber-talented Domoracki brothers who dominated last year — Chris and Luke — have since graduated out. Amesbury, meanwhile, looked to be firing on all cylinders in its opener last week at Wayland (50-12). Between Luke Arsenault, Nick Marden, Henry O'Neill, Michael Sanchez and Drew Scialdone, Amesbury just always has fresh legs to carry the rock. I think revenge gets served here.
Prediction: Amesbury 32, Hamilton-Wenham 16
Georgetown (0-2) at KIPP Academy (0-2), 10 a.m.
It's been a little bit of a rough go for both of these teams thus far. The Royals looked better in last week's loss to Tech Boston, and KIPP has only scored 14 points on the season after losses to St. Mary's (41-0) and Boston Latin (30-14). That was the same Boston Latin team that the Royals were blanked by, 38-0, in Week 1. This is also a rematch from last year, a game Georgetown lost 48-6, and KIPP then went on to make a run to the Division 8 quarterfinals. However, that seemed to be a senior-laden roster for KIPP last year, much like how the Royals were as well. Another toss-up, but I'm going with the home team that performed marginally better against a common opponent.
Prediction: KIPP 16, Georgetown 14
Kyle's Season Record: 4-5
Last Week: 2-3