Minus Mike Panepinto (hamstring), Needham grounded against Westwood

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WESTWOOD – The first game of the season was far from what they envisioned on the Needham High sideline.

Parents, stunned. Coaches, perplexed. Players, frustrated.

And Mike Panepinto, who led all of Division 1 in scoring last fall with 25 touchdowns, was sitting on the bench with hamstring cramps as Westwood played near-perfect football against a Rocket team that could’ve used a few more practices.

“I don’t think they were quite ready to play football,” suggested Westwood coach Ed Mantie after his club registered a 36-26 nonleague win Saturday night.

Needham coach Dave Duffy agreed.

A season full of promise, much of which centered around the running back who had the breakout of all breakouts a year ago, was now appearing more hopeless by the minute.

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