HATHORNE — After finding out it qualified for the State Vocational Small School championship game on Sunday, the McCann Tech football team unloaded its football gear and began its short week of practice. Despite facing Essex Tech for the second year in a row, McCann's lack of preparation time meant the team could not find its rhythm in a 44-6 loss on Thursday at Essex Technical Institute.
The Hornets had not played a game since losing the Division VI title game to Lee on Nov. 14. The Hawks, however, were playing right up to Thursday's match-up, beating Northeast Metro Tech 30-6 on Thanksgiving. McCann Tech coach Bob LeClair said it's hard to knock the rust off on such short notice.
"You lose a lot having to wait that long [to play]," he said. "After we played Lee we were in third place [in the state vocational standings]. ... Then you find our you're playing and that makes it a difficult task.
"Facing an opponent like [Essex Tech], they haven't missed a beat. This is their 13th game and they're right in gear."
Operating out of a Wing-T formation, the Hawks' offense was in sync early. They scored on their first three possessions, taking a 23-0 lead into the second quarter.
McCann finally got on the board with a 31-yard touchdown run from Datoka Bolte. He took a toss right side and raced into the end zone. His score cut the Hornets' deficit to 23-6, but Essex scored two more times before the break, expanding its lead to 32 points. Bolte led McCann with 84 yards rushing.
"They went to that double wing and that's something they like to do," LeClair said. "It's very deceptive and very tough to see the ball."
Paul Lazzaro led Essex with 196 yards rushing a three touchdowns. Essex's 300-pound lineman Brent Campbell lined up in the backfield as well, converting on two extra points and adding the final touchdown from eight yards out with one minute left in the third quarter.
Although they could not earn the small school title, the Hornets' did well in adjusting its personnel to suit their needs.
Once starting fullback Eathan Heller went down with a knee injury, sophomore quarterback Mike Ferrara was forced into duty at quarterback and Nick Lincoln moved from QB to fullback.
Ferrara said the unexpected extra game provided valuable experience heading into next season.
"It was a great feeling to play with my teammates and the seniors," he said. "There's only 16 teams left in the state playing, so it felt good [to have another game]."
He added that Lincoln was one of his biggest supporters during his transition into the starting quarterback role.
"[Lincoln] helped me a lot through the year, on the field especially," he said. "I didn't know a lot of the plays, but he always helped me and told me how to run the plays. He was a great help."
McCann hopes to return to the small school championship game next year, and Ferrara's progression will play a big part in that. The Hornets must replace linemen Noah Curran and captain Adam Rodriguez, but skill position players Corbin Richardson, Bolte and Steve Stodja return, providing firepower for the offense.
ET — Paul Lazzaro 64 run (Brent Campbell run), 9:34
ET — Lazzaro 14 run (Campbell run), 4:49.
ET — Madison Murphy 3 run (Jackson Leete kick), :29.
MT — Dakota Bolte 31 run (run failed), 8:45
ET — Lazzaro 43 run (Michael Beausoleil pass from Jack Crawley), 4:53.
ET — Leete pass 1 from Crawley (Leete kick), :57.
ET — Campbell 8 run (kick failed), 1:00.