The Ipswich Football Team Has Seen Better Days


Eliot Donovan and Adam Coletti, Journalist

The Ipswich High School Tigers have historically been a force to be reckoned with in the Cape Ann League with 11 state championships.  Ipswich High School currently has 2 of the best rushers in the North Shore and is a very run-dominant team.  Coming out of a 1-7 regular season, the Tigers feel that the job is unfinished.  There are still 3 more games that can flip the Tigers’s season. If they can win these next 3 games, they can finish the season with a record of 4-7. This isn’t the best, but it is still better than last year’s record, which was 1-10.  After this past Saturday, the Ipswich Tigers pulled away from the Whittier Tech Wildcats 55-38.  After this weekend, the Ipswich tiger’s morale is up – and so is their record – as they approach the upcoming game against Arlington Catholic with eager anticipation.  

The Tigers’s season has had a few bumps in the road.  From the beginning of the season, the Ipswich football roster has been at an all time low with roughly 33 players suiting up for each game.  Other teams in the area have rosters that range from 60-100 players.  This seems to be a general trend in schools throughout the country as more and more kids are shying away from the physical sport.  There are many reasons for the nationwide downsizing of rosters.  Ipswich Tigers senior captain Henry Wright said in an interview, “I think football is definitely a tougher sport and it takes a lot more commitment than a normal sport. I think people just don’t want to do that.” 

Providing another take on the issue, Head Coach Zach Lamkin suggests, “It’s a combination of several factors, but mainly it’s the bad stigma of concussion and injuries that plague football. Football has a bad reputation when it comes to that, so parents are fearful, but it’s not exactly warranted. The new rules and equipment have really decreased injuries, especially head injuries, but mindsets haven’t adjusted with the times.  Football takes dedication, time, effort, resiliency and drive. Not a lot of kids these days are willing to make that commitment.”

Another challenge that the Tigers had to overcome was that almost half of the players on this year’s roster are freshman.  15 of the 33-player roster (6-8 start on the varsity level) are freshmen who are mostly 14-15 years old.  These freshmen have to go into an all-out brawl against seniors that weigh twice as much as them.  As Coach Lamkin says, “We are asking kids that are 15 years old to compete in a physical sport against kids that are 17-18 years old. There is a huge difference between a young man’s body between those ages. It’s not fair to ask these kids to do what they’ve done, but they’ve done it without hesitation. Most of the time any school may have 1 stud freshman come through once every few years and play meaningful minutes. We have about 8, with two of them starting on both sides of the ball.”  As Coach Lamkin said, it is usually rare that a freshman gets to see any varsity playing time, meaning that the schools that the Tigers face off against possess at least 6-8 more mature athletes.

It is not all bad though. With 15 freshmen on this year’s roster, Ipswich can only hope that this trend will continue into future years.  The 6-8 freshman that are starting this year on varsity only stand to improve and grow bigger.  The freshmen that are starting this year will certainly start next year and the years after that.  Senior Captain Henry Wright remarks,  “I think it is a great experience for them.”  Senior Captain Matthew McGowan speculates, “By the time the freshmen are seniors they will have enough seniors to start a full senior lineup, most of which will have 3 years of experience.” With those encouraging words, Ipswich can only hope for a brighter future for the Tigers that has more wins in it.