Billy Owens / For the Boston Globe
Football is back in Boston.
And Monday's opening day of training camp marked major new beginnings at several city league programs.
Besides being the first day of practice for new coaches at Brighton High, Charlestown High and West Roxbury High, Monday was the first ever football practice for New Mission High.
New Mission secured a football program after it was announced last school year that the school would move from Mission Hill to the former Hyde Park Education Complex.
About 13 New Mission students participated in practice at Ross Field on Monday.
“This is surreal,” said New Mission coach Michael Pittman Forman, who used to coach at Cathedral High in the South End. ”I’ve been in Boston for a while and I’ve wanted to get into the city [league] and coach. It feels surreal and I’m happy for the turnout we have right now. It’s a little low but we should be getting more guys.”
Known for their formidable basketball teams, the Titans looked athletic as they ran through conditioning drills on Monday morning.
“Once we start running with helmets and shoulder pads we’ll see if they are football players,” Pittman Forman said. “I have a feeling it’s going to be great. Everything starts with baby steps and we’re taking baby steps right now. We’ll see how it goes from this point on.”
Over in West Roxbury, another new era of football started as Derek Wright was in place as head coach instead of Leo Sybertz. The 74-year-old retired after the 2007 season only to return for the 2010 and 2011 seasons.
Wright served as Sybertz' assistant for two seasons.
“It was a restless night, the anxiety, now it’s all on my shoulders to be the head guy,” Wright said.
The Raiders junior quarterback David Bertucci said it was strange without Sybertz at practice on Monday.
“But I’ve been with these coaches since I was a freshman and I love them all to death,” he said. “But you can’t really replace a coach Sy, it’s always tough. Coach Wright coached me since JV year so I’ve been under his tutelage. It’s always good working with a coach you’ve worked with before. It makes everything easier. I’m happy they made Coach Wright head coach, I wouldn’t want anyone else to be head coach.”
Bertucci also said it’s a little tough coming back to practice and conditioning because it means summer is over and school is about to start.
“But the football helps to remove that pit [in your stomach] and makes everything better,” said Buertucci, whose father played at Westie in the 1980s and is an assistant for the Raiders. “I’m just happy to be back. I’ve been waiting for this since the last game of the year last year against Brighton. We finished off strong and we have a good group of guys here and we’re hoping to go deep in the playoffs.”
At Brighton’s camp in Cleveland Circle on Monday, longtime Bengals’ assistant Randolph Abraham officially took over the reins from James “Timo” Philip, who retired last year after coaching the Bengals for 30 years.
Abraham played for Philip until 2000 and became his assistant coach after graduating from Nichole’s College in 2004.
“It feels awesome, this is a dream of mine, I’ve wanted to do since I was a student here,” he said. “It’s going to be a grind but I think we’ve got great coaching.”
Last week Abraham joked that he wouldn’t be surprised if Philip turned up at the first day of practice. While Philip was a no show on Monday, Abraham joked that Philip would "hate" how organized practice is.
“He likes to roll with it,” Abraham said of Philip. “Me, I’m the opposite. We’re very organized and precise as you can see. We’re getting a lot done today. It feels like we’ve been here for four hours but we’ve only been here for two. They’re working.”
During the first week of Brighton’s practice last year, Brighton's star tight end Prince Unaegbu suffered a dislocating wrist and played most of the season with a cast on his forearm.
“It feels good, I’ve been waiting all year for this," the 6-foot-6, 240-pounder said. "When I came in today it felt like I was getting ready for a game or something.”
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 firstname.lastname@example.org. 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 email@example.com. 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 firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @GlobeSchools for all of the latest updates.
Then there are our winter correspondents:
- Emily McCarthy | @EmilyMcCahthy | BPS correspondent
- Jake Fischer | @GlobeFischer | Boys basketball
- Michelle Fenelon | @michfenelon | Girls basketball
- Andrew MacDougall | @Andy_MacDougall | Boys hockey
- Liz Torres | @etorres446 | Girls hockey
To reach the high school sports department, e-mail email@example.com.