AYER -- The Ayer-Shirley boys' track and field team has been quietly making noise in the Mid-Wach D division this year and for the last 16 seasons.
Under longtime head coach Jamie Lamoreaux, the Panthers have captured 14 of the last 16 Midland Wachusett D-league championships (co-champs with Murdock in 2011). In the two years when the Panthers failed to win the championship, they finished second.
Ayer-Shirley captured its tenth straight title last Friday with an 87-49 victory over Tahanto. The Panthers capped off its magical undefeated season at 7-0.
Lamoreaux served as the school's varsity football coach for 30 years until he stepped down in 2011.
"As a football coach I encourage all the football players to do something (in the spring)," said Lamoreaux on the success of his athletes. "We have always had a good turnout. This year we had 70 boys on the high school track team and we only have 106 boys in the school. We have had a great run and kids want to be on a winner."
Lamoreaux said that football was always his first love, but track and field was a close second. Lamoreaux remembers when his football coach told him that he should go out for track.
"I was a baseball player growing up," said Lamoreaux. "My football coach was also the track coach. He encouraged me to go out for track and I did. I ended up being a shot-putter and I still hold the (Ayer-Shirley) school record to this day.
Lamoreaux came to the Ayer-Shirley track and field coaching staff in 1980 as an assistant. Sixteen years later he was promoted to the head coaching post and the successful seasons started to mount.
Lamoreaux undoubtedly has a special place in his heart for the 2007 CMass. District Championship team.
"The biggest achievement I have had as a football coach, and a track and field coach, has to be when we were all-class champions in '07," said Lamoreaux. "We were the only D school ever to do it. You are going against St. John's Shrewsbury, Shrewsbury High School, Algonquin, Fitchburg and Leominster; these are all Division-1 schools. For a D-School of 150 boys to go to a track meet, and beat everybody, and not compete in one of the events, we were pretty good that year."
Ayer-Shirley's success on the track has been completed without competing in the pole vault event. The Panthers have never competed in the pole vault and forfeit points every meet. When Lamoreaux took over as the Panthers' head coach in 1996, he never imagined the program would have anywhere near the amount of success it has enjoyed.
"I wanted this one for some reason," said Lamoreaux on winning 10 straight D-League titles. "I really wanted to win 10. We have a shot putter throwing 40 (feet) 19 (inches), which is pretty good. We had three kids qualify in the hurdles and a sophomore league-champion 400 runner. We had a bunch of newcomers come out this year, and in places we weren't strong, we just got better."
The Panthers leading point-getters for the 2013 season include Malcolm Mathis (sprint, high-jump and triple-jump) Dan Hughes (hurdle, jumper) and Nick Guthiel (shot-put, discus). Notable newcomers to the program include Mike Davis, Ryan Richard, Dan Goldstein, Tyler Warila, Nick Misner, Dre Carmona, Brian Becharam, Zach Robinson and Jordan and Josh Elysee.
Lamoreaux noted that he changed the rule that every member had to participate in a running event.
"When I first started, everybody had to run," said Lamoreaux. "I noticed that we were losing some of the offensive linemen, they just weren't runners. I said, hey, you guys aren't running, but you can throw. When I kind of changed that, where the throwers just throw, we were more successful."
Lamoreaux credits the track and field program's success to the great assistants he has had over his time as head coach. Lamoreaux's long-time assistant Joe Scunziano retired from the Mass. State Police and left the Panthers' program last year after 10 seasons. Lamoreaux credits the league-championship run to his assistants Jim Ryan (four years), Pete Page (two years) and Mike Seguin (10 years).
"We have had some incredible athletes and a couple state champions," said Lamoreaux. "If you look back, the athletes put a lot of effort in.
"You are not going to have state champions without great coaching," he added. "It has been a lot of fun. A lot of the credit comes to me because I am the head coach, but I couldn't do it by myself. My assistant coaches are every bit as important as the athletes."