As the Burlington High football team prepares for their non-league game in Dracut against the Middies this Friday night, you can’t help but notice the similarities in the two teams resumes.
Both teams started with three consecutive wins, both teams lost a first-round playoff game, and both teams are currently riding six game losing streaks.
Even the common opponents and results are similar as both teams beat Lawrence and both teams took their lumps against Wakefield.
“The numbers all look similar when you look at these two teams,” said Burlington coach Dan MacKay. “They are very similar to the North Reading team we played last week so we expect them to attack us with the running game to the outside. We are going to have to step up and make some plays on defense.”
Last week, the Devils were in the game until the end against North Reading, falling by a final of 34-26, unable to make those key plays in the fourth quarter.
MacKay hopes the execution on the offensive side of the ball can find the consistency it had in the first few weeks of the season.
“It just comes to down to being more consistent when we have the ball,” said MacKay. “We had four scoring drives that were everything from long drives to quick strikes. But late in the game we get hit with a few penalties and things spiral from there. We need to execute better at the end of the game and be more consistent and that is the bottom line.”
On the defensive side, the Devils are ravaged by injuries, and the numbers bear that out as they are allowing over 40 points per game over their last four contests. The loss of leading tackler Jake McCauley, who is out again this week has hurt considerably.
If you couple that with the long-term losses of Matt Pinkham and Dylan MacKinnon, the Devils have been forced to press players into action who may not have been ready for varsity football.
“It is hard to overcome some of the guys we have been missing,” said MacKay of his defense. “It leads to a lot of blitzes and taking a lot of chances but that can bite you if you don’t hit on them. The one thing we can do, and we need to do is tackle better.”
Despite the losing streak, the Devils remain positive and have been led by senior captains Khyle Pena and Chris Jones.
Pena has done it all throwing and running the ball for the Devils including four more touchdowns last week, three on the ground and one through the air to his favorite target, Shawn Pinkham.
Jones anchors the left side of the Burlington offensive line, a side the Devils run behind often and he anchors the defensive line as well.
“Khyle (Pena) and Chris (Jones) bring an incredible attitude to practice every single day and the rest of the guys just fall in line behind their lead,” said MacKay. “They have a great attitude and I say it every week that if you come to our practice that you wouldn’t know we had lost six games in a row, but it starts with those two guys. I hope we can get a win for those guys this week and carry that into Thanksgiving.”
The teams kick it off in Dracut on Friday night at 7:00 pm.