LYNNFIELD – The final whistle blew at Saturday’s seventh annual Swampscott-Lynnfield High School Shootout tournament, and Lynn English’s two dozen or so players gathered in a huddle at midfield to accept their trophy. Everyone, that is, except senior wideout Travonne Berry-Rogers.
Berry-Rogers lay on his back on the grass at Lynnfield High as a coach stretched out his right leg, offering words of support from afar. Just how exhausted was he?
“Super exhausted,” he laughed. He then took a deep breath, and exhaled softly, “man”.
Forgive Berry-Rogers, who also excels on the school’s basketball squad, for taking a breather. With a handful of circus catches and out-muscling defenders all afternoon for jump balls – coupled with fairly brief breaks in between games – he was a key component in the Bulldogs’ run of seven games in this football tournament, which follows 7-on-7 passing league procedures. The Bulldogs downed Chelmsford in the final, 34-12, to capture the title.
“It makes you wake up and understand what varsity football’s all about,” Berry-Rogers said of this rapid-fire tournament, which had its largest field of competing teams ever this year at 32.
As for the competition itself, “When we play against different teams [that normally aren’t on English’s schedule], it makes you realize that you do have to work 10 times harder than you usually do on a regular basis.”
Chelmsford, which won it all last season and lost to Masconomet in the 2008 final, made it three straight finals with a solid defeat of Longmeadow in the semifinals. English took care of business against Gloucester in their semi’s to create the matchup.
Berry-Rogers made a one-handed grab to set up first and goal on the game’s opening possession, and after quarterback Tyllor MacDonald threw in a tight one over the middle for the score, Berry-Rogers made one of the most impressive catches of the afternoon on the two-point conversion – tipping the ball up away from a defender, and hauling it in as he fell out of the back of the end zone – for the 8-0 lead.
“I knew it was going to bounce, so first instinct was to just stay with hit,” Berry-Rogers said. “So I just stuck with the play and caught the tip.”
The two teams traded scores on the next three possessions, with neither team converting on the point after for a 14-12 English lead late in the first of two 15-minute halves. The Bulldogs went up 22-12 just before the close of the half after freshman Freddie Hogan caught a MacDonald pass over the middle.
From there, the Bulldogs’ defense swarmed, not allowing a Rams score in the second half.