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HS FOOTBALL: LYNNFIELD 32, NORTH READING 6

Lynnfield takes advantage as North Reading sits starters ahead of Super Bowl appearance

NORTH READING — With a return trip to the Division 5 Super Bowl on tap a week from Friday, North Reading coach Eddie Blum chose to rest his starters in Thursday’s annual Thanksgiving Day clash with Lynnfield.

“It was not an easy decision,” said Blum. “Throughout the playoffs, we’ve been getting banged up, and this group of seniors and team deserved the best chance for next week.”

So as star quarterback Alex Carucci and the rest of the Hornets’ top unit watched from the sidelines, visiting Lynnfield rolled to a 32-6 win in the 63rd installment of the Cape Ann rivalry.

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The Pioneers finished 7-4 and now lead the series, 36-27.

“I don’t think it’s my fault and I don’t think it’s Ed’s fault for this awkwardness,” said Lynnfield coach Pat Lamusta. “Our guys wanted to compete against their best but we had to turn inward.”

North Reading (10-2) turned to freshmen and sophomores, and Lynnfield’s defense took advantage with two interceptions and six forced punts before the Hornets scored on the final play of the game.

Lynnfield running back James Sharkey ran for two touchdowns, Robert Marley added a 54-yard TD run, and quarterback Tyler Amado threw touchdown passes to Madux Iovinelli and Kevin Julian.

“We came out flat and we were surprised they weren’t playing their starters,” said Sharkey. “But we can control only what we can control, and this was a great way to go out.”

During a second straight run to Gillette Stadium, the Hornets have lost standout lineman Owen Delano and leading receiver Craig Rubino to injuries.

After losing a starter in last year’s Thanksgiving game before a setback to Swampscott in the Super Bowl, Blum felt resting his starters was the best decision for his team ahead of the showdown with undefeated Shawsheen Tech.

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“Our players weren’t on board, but there’s a trust there,” said Blum. “I understand their viewpoint and they’ve understood ours. But they’ve played their butts off all year and we felt this gave them the best chance going into the Super Bowl.”