After Tourney Loss, ME Football Readies for Georgetown on Thanksgiving


The playoff run came to an end this past weekend.

The Manchester Essex football team started this season strong out of the gate by winning their first four contests, stumbled a bit with losses in their next three, and then righted the ship at the end of the regular season and into the playoffs.

That end-of-season magic was there with a 43-14 win over Lynn Tech to close out the season, and it reappeared a week later when the Hornets beat Quaboag Regional by a 36-25 score in the MIAA Tournament Div. 8 Round of 16.

It looked like it might yet reappear one more time in the Elite Eight against Old Colony RVT on Nov. 11, but despite being able to keep things close the Hornets weren’t able to pull this one out, falling by a 22-20 score to the Cougars.

“It was back-and-forth with plenty of offense for most of the first half,” explains Manchester Essex football coach Josiah Grimes.  “The second half saw both teams adjust and the tempo slowed down and turned into a grind-it-out affair.”

Old Colony scored all of the points it would need to secure the victory in the first half thanks to touchdowns from Matt Pitts and Matt McGuiggan and being able to convert on two-of-three two-point conversion attempts.  The Hornets benefited from a spectacular 55-yard Jesse Oliver touchdown run in the first quarter and a Henry Otterbein 24-yard touchdown run in the second quarter but could not convert on either two-point attempt.  That proved to be the difference as Preston Potter’s 10-yard touchdown reception in the fourth (and a Henry Otterbein rush for two-point conversion) helped to cut into the lead only so much.

“Our running back corps of Cam Hubbard, Jesse Oliver, Henry Otterbein - plus a returning-from-injury Steve Martin - played really well,” says Grimes.

The loss takes Manchester Essex out of playoff contention, with only the traditional Thanksgiving Day game against Georgetown left to play in fall of 2022.  On paper, the Royals don’t seem like much of a match for the Hornets: Georgetown finished 2-7 overall and went 0-4 in the Commonwealth Small Division, while the Hornets were a playoff team that won six games this year.

“Georgetown has struggled this year with injuries and has been a little all over the place as all teams are in that position,” explains Grimes.  “So, it's a little hard to say what exactly we'll see from them on Thanksgiving, but we've seen a lot of film on them and should be ready to adjust to whatever we see on gameday.”

That being said, The Royals did win their last two regular-season contests of the season, giving them a bit of momentum, and then there’s the fact that Thanksgiving Day games tend to bring out the best in a team no matter the record.

“That's the nice thing about Thanksgiving - it means something regardless of the teams’ records coming into the game,” says Grimes.  “That's a much bigger concern for non-playoff action when you get paired up with a random, non-league team, but that never happens on Thanksgiving.  We've got a trophy going back 50-plus years of Manchester Essex-Georgetown games that we're all real proud to put our records onto every year.”

Georgetown football hosts Manchester Essex on Thursday, Nov. 24 at 10 a.m. at Georgetown High School.  While the Hornets are looking to close out their season in memorable fashion, this group should be proud of what it’s accomplished so far this season.

“It was a memorable one, for sure,” explains Grimes.  “We struggled in the midseason with three straight losses, but we were able to stick together, right the ship and battle for a good seed and a good playoff win.  Not every team has that core group of guys that can be mentally strong enough to do that and this group will be remembered for a long time for how tough they are.”

SIDEBAR: ME Girls Soccer Knocked Out of Tournament

The ME girls soccer team beat Uxbridge by a 5-2 score late last week before being knocked out of the Div. 4 Tournament on Nov. 12 with a 4-0 loss to Northbridge.  While the season is now over, the good news is that this is a younger squad with many important players returning for 2023: the team loses only senior Kendall Newton to graduation in the spring, with players like Mechi O'Neil, Libby Lawler and Charlotte Crocker returning, along with team captains Philipa Shea Spingler and Mackay Brooks returning from a team that made it to the Elite Eight of the MIAA Div. 4 Tournament.

football, hornets, manchester, essex