HOLLISTON -- Nothing stings more than a one-loss season. Especially if that loss comes at the end.
The Holliston Panthers come into the 2010 season with a bit of a chip on their shoulders. They've got 14 returning players, including Globe All-Scholastic Sean Mayo at quarterback, from last season's 12-1 campaign that ended with a 38-12 loss to Austin Prep in the Division 3A Super Bowl at Gillette Stadium. Tough memories for a team filled with talented players.
"We could end up where we were last year," said Mayo, "but our goal is to finish this year. Last year, we didn't finish the job. This year, we want to make a statement and finish the job."
The Panthers are no team to take for granted. In a year that graduated a multitude of top players across Eastern Massachusetts, Mayo and the rest of the Panthers have the luxury of experience and talent on their team. Wingbacks Kevin Curry and Jake Frechette are a speedy tandem for defenses to take into consideration when Mayo isn't tossing the ball around the field in the Panthers' spread formations. And though the specs aren't in yet, the team also has a big target in tight end Ryan Barrett.
"(Barrett) is a hardworking kid," Holliston coach Todd Kiley said. "He's a vocal kid and a lead by example kid. He's somebody we want our younger kids to model their work ethic after."
And he's not the only one the Panthers consider as team leaders, with Curry, guard and linebacker Ethan Rayner as well as Johnny Rossina (tackle and linebacker) and Dan Miller (wide receiver and defensive back) getting nods from the coach. But what was surprising for coach Kiley on his first day with pads on was the play of the younger kids on the team.
"As a coach, you always enjoy the first day because you have those kids that are tweener kids as far as are they going to be able to make the jump to the varsity level," Kiley said. "We were anxious for this moment. We saw some younger kids step up that had some question marks after their names. We definitely have some kids that are leap frogging other kids."
Expect big things from a team that has its core nucleus together. Their only worry, as both Mayo and coach Kiley put it to me, is their health.
This is the third school I've been to since football practices opened for high schools Monday Aug. 23. Click here to read (and view) my other stops.
Several reporters and editors contribute updates, news and analysis to the High School Sports Blog.
- Bob Holmes: A Reading resident (Go Rockets!) and Boston College graduate, Holmes is the Boston Globe High School Sports Editor. We remind you now that his weekly picks are often made in jest so everyone just calm down when he picks against Everett for 11 straight weeks. Contact him at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @GlobeHolmes.
- Craig Larson: A native of West Springfield (Leo Durocher anyone? Tim Daggett?) and Curry College graduate (a proud Colonel!), Larson is the sports editor for the Globe's regional sections: South, West and North, as well as a frequent contributor on the college beat. Abington to Xaverian: it all starts with the schools. Have a compelling story idea? Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @GlobeLars.
- Zuri Berry: Berry attended the same high school as sports legends O.J. Simpson and Joe DiMaggio. (Guess which one is his hero.) He's a South Boston resident (formerly of Eastie) and the editor of the High School Sports blog as well as the go-to-guy for everything high school sports on Boston.com. Contact him at email@example.com and follow him on Twitter @GlobeSchools for all of the latest updates.
Then there are our fall correspondents:
- Anthony Gulizia | @gulizia_a | Div. 1 football
- Eric Russo | @erusso22 | Div. 2 football
- Stephen Sellner | @stephen_sellner | Div. 3 football
- Andrew MacDougall | @Andy_MacDougall | Div. 4 football
- Greg Joyce | @GJoyce9 | Div. 5 football
- Lorenzo Recupero | @LorenzoRecupero | Div. 6 football
- Liz Torres | @etorres446 | Girls volleyball
To reach the high school sports department, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.