The Winthrop Vikings football team took one of it worst home losses in recent memory 30-6 last Friday night at Miller Field and dropped to 0-5 on the 2010 season. However, despite the Vikings’ continued inability to sustain their offense against the larger schools in the Northeast Conference, head coach Sean Driscoll said again this week that he feels the trials of facing larger, deeper teams in the NEC large division will bear fruit for his team, now that they are heading into the small division portion of their schedule.
“We know we are playing a tougher schedule by playing the large schools, but we think that it is teaching our kids some valuable lessons,” said Driscoll. “We honestly believe, looking at the other schools in the NEC South division, that any one of those teams can beat any other team and it is wide open.”
The Vikings have emerged from the non-conference portion of their schedule relatively healthy, compared to past years. A recent bout of team illness seems to have cleared up and most of the injured players on the team are back or due back this week.
Two exceptions to that rule are senior captain Joe Boudrow, who has been out with a leg injury and senior offensive and defensive lineman Anthony Hatzisavas, who was pulled out of the Peabody game in the fourth quarter with a back injury.
Driscoll said on Tuesday that the Hatzisavas had been dealing with a back problem for at least a portion of the season, but that the problem got severe enough on Friday night that he felt he had to pull the big lineman out of the game to protect him from further injury and pain.
“He actually played a great game, considering he was basically playing without his back,” said Driscoll. “We’re going to get him to a specialist this week to see when or if he’ll be able to come back this season, but I’ve decided that he will not be playing this week, and we’ll wait to see what the doctors say before we decide what to do beyond that.”
The loss of Hatzisavas long term could mean real trouble for a Winthrop team that is smaller up front than many of the other teams they play, but Driscoll said he did see things to be encouraged by in the loss to Peabody on Friday.
“Overall, I was pleased with the way the kids played and with the energy they had and the effort they put in,” said Driscoll. “We actually started out well. Our opening drive was a nice 10 play drive that resulted in Nick McCarthy’s touchdown run and we had the lead through the first quarter.”
The problems for the Vikings started on defense, where Peabody’s larger, veteran offensive line was able to take advantage of Winthrop’s front seven and put together a scoring drive of its own.
“They tied it up in the second quarter, then missed their two-point try like we did so it was 6-6, but then we fumbled on the 13th play of our next drive, turning the ball over on Peabody’s six yard line,” recalled Driscoll. “From there we just let it mushroom and they scored ten points in the last 1:30 of the first half.”_Peabody headed to halftime with a 16-6 lead and the rout was on.
“It seems like we just haven’t been mentally tough enough to overcome it when things don’t go our way,” said Driscoll. “That is on me and the coaching staff to coach the kids better when things start to go wrong, so that we can pull out of it and respond better.”
Winthrop did have better luck moving the ball and sustaining drives against Peabody, then they’d had the week earlier against Lynn Classical.
McCarthy had 90 yards rushing on 18 carries and the touchdown and also recorded the team’s only reception on two pass attempts, pulling in a 23-yard pass from quarterback Jimmy Barker.
Also contributing on offense were senior fullback Joe Clougherty, who had four carries for 25 yards and Mitch Paulson who carried the ball three times for 28 yards.
The Vikings square off against Saugus this Friday night at Miller Field, in the start to their division schedule. Then they’ll face Beverly at home on October 22, before heading out on the road for their final four games.