2009 EMASS Football Preview

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Div 1 Merrimack Valley (Large)

Andover

  • Last year's record: 4-7
  • Strength: Quarterback, athleticism.
  • Concerns: With Rex getting hired late, it may take some time for team to adjust.
  • Coach: John Rex (1st season, takes over from Ken Maglio)
  • Playing surface: Artificial turf
  • Schedule: Complete list of games
  • showReturning: 1 lettermen
    • John Hennessy, QB

Under first-year coach John Rex, Andover should be able to contend as long as its defense improves from last season. Andover allowed the second-most points in the Merrimack Valley at 24.6 ppg. The offense returns quarterback John Hennessey, who threw for 20 touchdowns in 2008. Eight of those were to Christopher McConnell, winner of the 50-meter dash in the New England championships earlier in the year. Making the aerial attack even more potent is the presence of junior tight end Brian Miller, whom Rex describes as a “big, strong kid who can really move.” Rex, who was the freshman coach the past five years, replaced long-time Andover coach and close friend Ken Maglio with less than two months to prep his team for the season-opener. Having experience with the kids doesn’t put Rex as far behind the eight-ball as a coach brought in from another program would have been. “I’m hoping that this year, I have a physical team,” said Rex. “I’m looking for everything they have, physically and emotionally, every time we take the field.”

Billerica

  • Last year's record: 7-4
  • Strength: Athleticism, speed.
  • Concerns: Staying healthy.
  • Coach: Peter Flynn (20th season, 125-79)
  • Playing surface: Grass
  • Schedule: Complete list of games
  • showReturning: 11 lettermen
    • Andrew Beckford, OL/DL, Senior, 6-5, 260
    • Wayne Bolz, DB/RB, Senior, 5-10, 170
    • Dan Chase, OL/DL, Senior, 6-2, 275
    • Chris Clark, RB, Senior, 6-0, 220
    • Ryan Donahoe, WR/DB, Junior, 6-1, 180
    • Phil Heck, LB, Senior, 5-11, 190
    • Jimmy Holland, WR/RB, Senior, 6-2, 210
    • Cylde Karmant, OL/DL, Senior, 6-3, 250
    • Nick LaSpada, QB/FS, Sophomore, 6-2, 190
    • Brian Milo, DL, Senior, 5-10, 170
    • Aaron Pelletier, OL, Senior, 6-3, 240

With a 6-0 record midway through last season, Billerica looked to be the team to beat in the Merrimack Valley Conference. However, a loss to Dracut began a 1-4 stretch that derailed the Indians' season and catapulted them into the middle of the league as numerous players fell to injuries. Billerica's undoing last season may pay dividends this year. Because of the rash of injuries, the Indians put backup players into starting roles. The result is 17 returning starters, most of whom garnered irreplaceable experience last season despite not starting from the very beginning. The Indians may very well go as far as sophomore sensation Nick LaSpada takes them. As a freshman quarterback, LaSpada ran for 13 touchdowns and threw for 10 more, and coach Peter Flynn sees no place to go but up for the talented QB. “Nick has been such an elite athlete,” said Flynn. “He runs as well as he throws. He's the real deal.” LaSpada will have a chance to play with senior captain Jimmy Holland this season. Holland blew out his knee in the preseason last year, but the receiver/running back/strong safety is hailed by his coach as “one of the elite football players in the state.”

Central Catholic

  • Last year's record: 5-6
  • Strength: Experience at running back, Special teams.
  • Concerns: Depth.
  • Coach: Chuck Adamopolous (13th season, 82-47)
  • Playing surface: Artificial turf
  • Schedule: Complete list of games
  • showReturning: 11 lettermen
    • Mike Amaral, WR/LB, Senior, 5-10, 185
    • Chris Berganti, WR/DB, Senior, 6-2, 190
    • Zac Borrelli, LB/OL, Senior, 6-1, 195
    • Tom Lacroix, RB/DB, Senior, 5-9, 170
    • Zack Lattrell, RB/LB, Senior, 6-0, 200
    • Jaycob Morales, TE/LB, Junior, 6-0, 180
    • Trey Musumarra, RB/LB, Junior, 5-11, 190
    • Andrew Ouellette, QB/DB, Senior, 6-2, 170
    • Louis Penzo, RB/DB, Senior, 5-7, 155
    • Pat Rooney, OL/DL, Senior, 6-4, 222
    • Cam Walsh, RB/DB, 5-10, 160

There will be plenty of new faces on the field come kickoff time for Central Catholic. Coach Chuck Adamopolous returns a mere four starters, all two-way players who will play an integral role in Central’s success this year. Among them are captains and linebackers Zack Lattrell and Zac Borrelli, who will double as running backs and guards, respectively. The quarterback situation is muddled, but Adamopolous sees the situation sorting itself between two talented seniors: Dylan Smith and Andrew Ouellette. Even with the Merrimack Valley Conference realigned, the competition did not dissipate. Adamopolous believes conditioning will be one of the keys to winning the Large division. “It’s good that our league finally gets a second playoff berth,” he said. “Whoever can stay the healthiest will get the edge.”

Chelmsford

  • Last year's record: 7-4
  • Strength: Linebacker, Reciever.
  • Concerns: Quarterback inexperience.
  • Coach: Bruce Rich (14th season, 100-41-2)
  • Playing surface: Grass
  • Schedule: Complete list of games

Just two years removed from a Division 1A championship, Chelmsford is aiming to secure a Division 1 title. According to coach Bruce Rich, Chelmsford’s talent has the potential to make up for the lack of experience and the tough schedule facing his squad. It all starts with quarterback Sean Harrington, who was hurt last season. Rich calls the 6-3, 220-pounder a “project” with a great arm and all the physical tools needed to succeed. Many times, all he will be asked to do is fling the ball to speedster Mike Arronian, possibly Chelmsford’s most dangerous weapon. On the offensive line, 6-1, 285-pound Austin Graham is the only returning interior lineman. The defenders are “improving day-to-day”, but should be aided by the veteran presence up front. Eric Arnold and David Najam are two big, physical linemen who should keep opposing offenses wary of running up the middle.

Lowell

  • Last year's record: 8-3
  • Strength: Offensive and defensive lines.
  • Concerns: Inexperience.
  • Coach: Al Pare (3rd season, 10-12.)
  • Playing surface: Artificial turf
  • Schedule: Complete list of games

Lowell was one of the most improved teams in 2008, compiling an 8-3 record under coach Al Pare after finishing 2-9 in 2007. Now, in Pare’s third season, the next logical step would be the playoffs. A huge obstacle to clear will be the loss of 30 seniors, leaving only two returning starters on defense. Linebackers Brett Noonan and Jimmy Ricoy will guide the young, inexperienced defense. On offense, Lowell returns quarterback Kyle Edwards, who is coming off a broken wrist. At the running back position, Pare has what he calls “community auditions.” One players who could emerge out of the backfield competition is junior Marquis Crockett. Whoever has the ball will have the protection of 6-4, 350-pound Ryan Davilla and 6-2, 200-pound captain Chris Horne.

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.