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.
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Then there are our winter correspondents:
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- Jake Fischer | @GlobeFischer | Boys basketball
- Michelle Fenelon | @michfenelon | Girls basketball
- Andrew MacDougall | @Andy_MacDougall | Boys hockey
- Liz Torres | @etorres446 | Girls hockey
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