Anybody who witnessed the skill level, team play, and dominance of the Pinkerton Academy football team as it drove its way to an undefeated Division I championship season this fall will attest to the fact that the Astros had every reason to expect that a bunch of its players would receive all-conference recognition from the D-I coaches.
And that became fact recently when 14 of veteran Brian O’Reilly’s Astros were given all-conference honors.
Full all-conference honors went to offensive players Jack Hanaway (senior quarterback), T.J. Urbanik (junior running back), Austin Whitehead (senior tight end), Noah Robison (senior tackle), Justin Poitras (senior guard), and Kyle Cantalupo (junior kicker).
Full all-conference honors were placed on defensive stalwarts Bryson Pacocha (senior lineman), Markaveus Barnes (senior lineman), Peter Cyr (senior linebacker), Mike Curley (junior linebacker), and Isaiah Backels (senior defensive back).
Honorable mention honors were bestowed upon defenders Riley Cahill (senior defensive back), Hayden Sturdevant (junior tackle), and Joey Lydick (junior guard).
All in all, the title-winning academy crew boasted 18 seniors, and their absences will no doubt be felt as the 2015 campaign gets going next fall. But as has been the case for many, many years with O’Reilly-coached crews, Pinkerton doesn’t rebuild, it simply reloads, where varsity football teams are concerned.
The unbeaten Astros of 2014 powered their way to a 9-0 regular season record and the Division I South Conference regular season crown, piling up blowout wins like the 63-20 hammering of the Alvirne High Broncos from Hudson, a 51-0 blanking of the Nashua North team, a 42-7 demolition of Timberlane from Plaistow, and a 57-9 trouncing of Keene.
The Pinkerton team’s biggest regular season test came in a 14-7 edging of the tough Salem High Blue Devils in Derry on Sept. 20 in a game in which star running back Urbanik exited the game early due to a shoulder injury. But he was back the next week to contribute big stuff to a 41-21 defeat of arch-rival Londonderry on the road.
When the post-season arrived, the Astros officially claimed the South Conference crown by defeating Londonderry’s Lancers in a challenging game, followed up that piece of work by ending the season of the West Division-winning Bishop Guertin Cardinals, and thumped the equally-undefeated Bedford High Bulldogs in a D-I title game that most folks – including the majority of the Pinkerton team members themselves – expected to be far closer.