2009 EMASS Football Preview

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Div 1 Greater Boston

Cambridge

  • Last year's record: 4-6
  • Strength: Speed, athleticism.
  • Concerns: Physical toughness.
  • Coach: Joe Papagni (2nd season, 4-6)
  • Playing surface: Grass
  • Schedule: Complete list of games
  • showReturning: 5 lettermen
    • Cliff Anderson, LB/RB, Senior, 5-10, 175
    • John Antonopolous, FS/Qb, Senior, 5-10, 170
    • Kenneth Butler, LB/FB, Senior, 5-10, 210
    • Zolan Kanno-Young, DB/RB, Junior, 5-8, 155
    • Maurice Morris, LB/RB, Senior, 5-8, 160

For the first time since 2004, the Falcons will begin the season without quarterback Ray Doucette, who has thrown more than 60 touchdown passes in his career. Senior John Antonopoulous will be replacing Doucette under center. Coach Joe Papagni recognizes that the changes in personnel will probably force a change in philosophy. “We need toughness,” he said. “We are going to have to start keeping the ball away from the other teams' offense.” Papagni returns two starting running backs in Cliff Anderson and Maurice Morris, but the backfield situation is far from settled. “Kids are going to be fighting for carries,” said Papagni. “That's the beauty of it. They are going to be competing against each other.” The running back's success hinges on the performance of an above-average offensive line, featuring 6-4, 290-pound captain Al Carerro and 6-2, 230-pound Derrick Howard. Cambridge will have time to find its identity. It plays six nonleague games before diving into its GBL schedule, and will not face Everett until Thanksgiving.

Everett

  • Last year's record: 9-2
  • Strength: Sophomore class, defensive depth.
  • Concerns: Offensive inexperience.
  • Coach: John DiBiaso (18th season, 217-60-1, includes Weston)
  • Playing surface: Grass
  • Schedule: Complete list of games
  • showReturning: 8 lettermen
    • Manny Asprilla, RB, Junior, 6-0, 160
    • Jean Bourdeau, RB, Senior, 5-10, 175
    • Matt Costello, WR, Junior, 6-5, 165
    • Nelson Delgado, DE, Senior, 6-2, 180
    • Jonathan DiBiaso, QB, Sophomore
    • Mike LaRochelle, LB, Senior, 5-11, 220
    • Rodman Noel, S, Senior, 6-5, 195
    • Shaquille Taylor, OL, Junior, 5-11, 270

Winning a league title before getting bounced from the playoffs by the eventual Super Bowl champions may be a successful season by most programs' standards, but not for the lofty expectations of Everett. Coach John DiBiaso is starting five sophomores this season, including his son Jonathan at quarterback. The southpaw will be handing the ball off to Jean Bordeau and Manny Asprilla. His primary target will be junior receiver Matt Costello. The offense, which ranked second last year in Division 1, will continue running the no-huddle. Defensively, the team features much more senior leadership, experience, and depth. The linebacking corps is stacked with seniors Mike LaRochelle, Andrew Bowman, and Sherwood Jonathas. "Mike is a very good player," said DiBiaso. "He'll be a four-year starter. Two of those years we won the Super Bowl." While Everett waved goodbye to cornerback Jim Noel, now a Boston College Eagle, his brother Rodman Noel, a safety, is already being recruited by Division 1 schools.

Malden

  • Last year's record: 6-5
  • Strength: Defensive experience.
  • Concerns: Learning a new offense, new coaching staff.
  • Coach: Joe Pappagallo (1st season)
  • Playing surface: Grass
  • Schedule: Complete list of games
  • showReturning: 12 lettermen
    • Marcos Alemedia, QB, Senior, 6-2, 215
    • Herbans Antenor, WR/SS, Senior, 6-0, 170
    • Chris Avery, DL/OL, Sophomore, 6-0, 240
    • David Console, LB/RB, Senior, 5-9, 185
    • Frankie Dunn, CB/WR, Junior, 5-9, 170
    • Sammy Fedna, LB/OL, Senior, 5-10, 220
    • Nicholas Hoyt, RB/CB, Senior, 5-6, 165
    • Patrick Hughes, OL/DL, Senior, 5-11, 255
    • Ernst LaRochelle, WR/FS, Senior, 6-3, 180
    • Djohn Melbranche, OL/DL, Senior, 5-11, 265
    • Aaron Samano, DL/OL, Junior, 6-1, 285
    • Shakarus Semexant, TE/LB, Senior, 6-2, 215

Malden may have surprised some last year by finishing .500 and defeating every GBL foe save for Everett. Running back David Freni quietly helped John LoPresti's team take a step in the right direction. Now, with Freni and LoPresti both gone, first-year coach Joe Pappagallo will take the reins and try to keep the program from backpedaling. Pappagallo is coming off three separate stints in the college ranks. He coached at Stonehill, Mt. Ida, and Framingham St. before returning to Malden, where he was the offensive coordinator in 2005, one of Malden's most successful seasons in recent history. The offense will be led by Marcos Almieda, who the former college coach insists "has the strongest arm of any kid I've ever coached in my life." In a pinch, the Golden Tornadoes could start Shakarus Semexant a linebacker/tight end who saw action at quarterback last season. Whoever takes the snaps will be in charge of running the spread option offense, which typically takes some time to learn. Defensively, Malden will have seven starters back. "While our offense is learning the new system, I'm hoping our defense can keep us in the game," said Pappagallo. Team captains Sammy Fedna, Herbans Antenor, and Nicholas Hoyt are expected to anchor the defense.

Medford

  • Last year's record: 0-11
  • Strength: Senior leadership.
  • Concerns: First-year coach, lack of depth.
  • Coach: Rico Dello Iacono (1st season)
  • Playing surface: Grass
  • Schedule: Complete list of games
  • showReturning: 5 lettermen
    • Joe Aufiero, LB, Senior, 6-0, 185
    • Alec Finn, TE/DE, Junior, 6-0, 200
    • Alex Frasco, QB, Senior, 6-2, 195
    • Michael Sullivan, RB/LB, Senior, 5-9, 175
    • DeAndrew Williams, RB/DB, Senior, 5-8, 165

No team in Division 1 had a more forgettable season, on and off the field, than Medford. Rifling through multiple head coaches, the Mustangs trudged to an 0-11 record that was the worst in the division. To find a solution, Medford plucked eight-year assistant line-coach Rico Dello Iacono from the Everett sidelines, naming him head coach this past winter. Dello Iacono brings a winning attitude from a winning program, but inherits a messy situation. The Mustangs are 3-37 over their last three years. But Dello Iacono sees the kids' desire to put the past behind them and start fresh as somewhat of a building block for this year. “Those kids have been through a lot,” he said. “The entire team has a willingness and a hunger to get out there and play well.” From a personnel standpoint, Medford will feature 22 seniors. Alex Frasco, who led the team with four touchdown passes last season and finished the season well, will take the snaps. Protecting him will be an experienced offensive line that will return three starters. “Most teams start the season and approach it like a sprint,” said Dello Iacono. “We intend on starting it like a marathon. We want to get better week-to-week.”

Somerville

  • Last year's record: 5-6
  • Strength: Running back, Speed.
  • Concerns: Depth.
  • Coach: Harry Marchetti (5th season, 16-26)
  • Playing surface: Artificial turf
  • Schedule: Complete list of games

Coach Harry Marchetti feels his team has been on track the past few seasons, but expects the Highlanders to begin making the jump into contention. “Over the last few years we have really played some pretty decent teams,” he said. “Stepping up to that caliber of competition has been adjustment. If we are going to make any noise in our league it is going to be in the next few years.” Jeff Guzman gives Somerville its best shot of creating some disarray in the GBL this year. The senior running back/linebacker is one of the league’s best kept secrets and put on 15 pounds during the offseason. “The sky is the limit with him,” said Marchetti. Junior Robert Pratt is a multi-faceted quarterback who can add another dimension to an offense that averaged just over 12 points a game last year. Somerville lost only two defensive starters, and Marchetti expects the defense to be quick and consistent. “We want to compete for the conference title,” said Marchetti. “We put in our dues the last couple years, now we want to compete.”

10 games to watch

Sep
11

BC High has won both times they met in the past year, including last season's nail-biting Super Bowl.

Sep
11

Walpole hopes to put a tumultuous off-season in the rearview mirror as they start their 2009 campaign.

Sep
17

In an interesting non-league match-up, Hurd Stadium in Beverly will host its first-ever night football game.