Stoneham has won a total of three games the past four seasons. This year, under new head coach Bob Almeida, the Spartans are 3-0.
Stoneham, which returned 10 starters, has a very athletic and balanced team. But why the fast turnaround?
“The kids are playing with confidence,” said Almeida. “When you have the records this program has had over the years — they really needed something to build on, be positive about.”
Almeida says Stoneham’s captains are the best he’s ever had in his 19 years as a head coach.
Linebackers/offensive linemen Frankie Sparco and Matt Dabenigno and running back Jared Macone are the captains who have taken command of the team.
Almeida was an assistant coach last year alongside David Pignone (also Stoneham’s athletic director) for the 2-9 Spartans. Being both AD and head coach was too demanding, so Pignone handed over the position with full confidence, knowing Almeida would be a great leader.
“When Dave took over, the program was in complete disarray,” Almeida said. “Although he only had two wins, he really did a lot to install discipline and enthusiasm to the program.”
Prior to the season Almeida spoke about changing the defensive scheme. He did that by bringing in defensive coordinator Yann Kumin, who worked with Almeida when he was head coach at Malden Catholic. Almeida jumped at the opportunity to get Kumin and he’s done an outstanding job.
On offense, the Spartans are led by third-year quarterback Andrew Cann, who leads Division 2A with nine touchdown passes. They also have other talented players in running back Darius McPherson, receiver Eric Mooney (Division 2A leader with 5 TD receptions), and backup QB Dillion Owens, a group that has combined for 14 touchdowns.
Stoneham’s explosive offense has scored 110 points; the defense has allowed only 6.
“This is great what we’ve done. We couldn’t have handled the three games better than we did,” said Almeida. “Our real goals lie ahead of us, there are still things that need to be accomplished.”
The Spartans haven’t won a Middlesex League game in four seasons, a stretch in which they’ve lost 41 games. Since 2000, they are 22-106.
However, this season is all about change for Stoneham and it starts with the mind-set of the players. Almeida’s team concept is that they’re all in it together and will win only if they play with that attitude.
“I just enjoy seeing the kids have some success,” Almeida said. “I believe our team is mentally and physically ready to compete in this league.”
The Spartans will look to stay undefeated as they take on Winchester Saturday afternoon.
Where’s the bus? With 41 unbeaten teams in EMass, there are too many schools to fit on the Globe’s undefeated school bus. A few upsets and the bus, which debuted in 1934, will return to the Monday football page . . . A few observations after three weeks. The highest scoring team in EMass is Barnstable, which is averaging 48.3 points. That puts the Red Raiders on pace to score more than 500 points this fall. Not surprisingly, Barnstable quarterback Nick Peabody leads EMass in touchdown passes with 13. Of course, with a game against No. 1 Everett Friday, the scoring average might come down a bit. The best defensive team is Reading, which has allowed just 2 points. Shawsheen’s Devonn Pratt leads EMass in scoring with 70 points.
Walpole 48, Brookline 13 — Will Bolster was 12 for 17 passing for 190 yards and two touchdowns for the visiting Rebels in a Bay State Conference victory Sunday.
Cam Hanley scored three touchdowns, two rushing and one receiving, for No. 8 Walpole (3-0).
The Rebels also received big games from Mike Rando, who rushed for 120 yards and a touchdown, and Connor Moriarty, who gained 125 yards on the ground and had a touchdown.