BOXFORD — One assistant coach was in sweatpants. One was in a Christmas sweater, neatly tucked into his beige khakis. Players were tripping each other on the sideline and talking about the weirdest topics they could think of.
Dylan Mann is proud of his group of misfits on the Masconomet Regional football team. If there was a competition for strangest squad in the state, he says the Chieftains would have to be at the top of that list.
The Chieftains (8-2) lollygagged around their sideline before Friday night’s game with Revere (5-4), then allowed only 45 total yards over 48 minutes and rolled past the Patriots, 42-0, to clinch the Cape Ann/Northeastern Division 1 title.
“We are odd,” Mann said. “We’re not very big. I feel like teams come out against us and they’re like, ‘This is going to be easy. They have nothing.’ And then we come out and start hitting.”
Revere hardly used its offense in a turnover-ridden first half that could have caused Pat Patriot to cover his eyes. After Mann laid a devastating hit to cause a fumble on the first possession, the Patriots went punt-punt-interception to finish the half with 25 total yards.
When Masco had possession, it was a pound-the-run-game type of attack with a relentless line, scrappy running backs, and a creative quarterback in Chris Schleer.
The Chieftains scored on all four of their first-half possessions, running 21 times for 142 yards.
Mann finished with 12 carries for 69 yards and two touchdowns.
His unassuming 5-foot-10-inch, 180-pound frame might be more suited for delivering pizzas or carrying trays full of dirty dishes. Instead, Mann stays on the field for almost every play, rushing the ball when he needs to, making enough blocks to fill an egg carton, and running fearless routes through the middle of the opposition’s secondary.
There aren’t too many jaw-dropping plays, but plenty of the jaw-crunching variety, particularly when he’s on defense.
“Go watch some film and you’ll see,” said Schleer. “I know I wouldn’t want to be running against him.”
Coach Jim Pugh compares Mann with Eric and Evan Bunker, perhaps the two most powerful running backs Masco has seen over the last decade.
“He’s the toughest, strongest kid that we have,” Pugh said.