2011 EMASS Football Preview

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Div 2 Merrimack Valley (Division 2)

Dracut

  • Last year's record: 8-4
  • Strength: Offensive line, defensive front seven.
  • Concerns: Replacing skill players.
  • Coach: Jason Houston (2nd season, 8-4)
  • Playing surface: Grass
  • Schedule: Complete list of games
  • showReturning: 14 lettermen
    • Zach Bassett, WR/LB, Junior
    • Matt Ferrazzani, TE/LB, Senior
    • Jake MacShane, OL/DL, Senior
    • Conor McAnespie, OL/DL, Senior
    • Anthony Metzler, OL/DL, Senior, 5-11, 280
    • Tony Ngeth, RB/LB, Senior
    • Pat Noonan, TE/LB, Junior
    • Jimmy Ryan, QB/LB, Junior
    • Peter Salem, OL/DL, Senior
    • Mike Schiavi, OL/DL, Senior
    • Ryan Schwartz, WR/DB, Senior
    • Dante Torres, WR/DB, Senior
    • Bryant Tuff, WR/DB, Junior
    • Jack Whelton, OL/DL, Senior

The Middies reached the Division 2 playoffs in Houston's first season as head coach. This year, Houston has the unenviable task of replacing the majority of his skill players, including quarterback Matt Silva and wide receiver Chris Malonis. "We have a lot of young guys that have to learn the nuances of the offense and get adjusted to the speed of varsity games," said Houston. A player that Houston is relying on to help the new players adjust is junior wide receiver Zach Bassett. Bassett is the only returning skill player for the Middies and will run the show on both sides of the ball. Junior Jimmy Ryan is expected to step in under center and will have the luxury of playing behind a line that returns three starters, including Peter Salem.

Haverhill

  • Last year's record: 0-11
  • Strength: Senior leadership.
  • Concerns: Inexperience in the secondary.
  • Coach: Tim O'Connor (2nd season, 0-11)
  • Playing surface: Artificial turf
  • Schedule: Complete list of games
  • showReturning: 17 lettermen
    • Chance Brady, RB, Junior, 5-9, 205
    • Dan Burrows, OL/DL, Junior, 6-5, 250
    • Sean Cronin, OL, Senior, 6-2, 230
    • Nick DeFusco, WR/DB, Senior, 6-2, 180
    • Josh Dion, DB, Sophomore, 5-9, 150
    • Ryan Filliger, OL/DL, Senior, 5-11, 200
    • Stas Firek, OL/DL, Senior, 5-11, 210
    • Will Haskell, OL/DL, Senior, 6-5, 240
    • Blaine Joia, WR/DB, Senior, 6-0, 160
    • Tom Maguire, DB, Sophomore, 5-9, 155
    • Jeremy Martinez, WR/DB, Senior, 5-9, 145
    • Aaron Moisan, LB/FB, Senior, 5-11, 245
    • Tommy Morgan, QB, Junior
    • Dan Muise, WR/DB, Senior, 5-11, 160
    • Gideon Schena, K/P, Senior, 6-1, 190
    • Connor Schneider, OL/DL, Senior, 6-3, 230
    • Taylor Sullivan, TE/LB, Senior, 6-2, 190

O'Connor is looking for his team to build off some momentum gained toward the end of last season in order to end the Hillies' 32-game losing streak. The Hillies have 18 returning starters and 27 seniors on the team and that experience is something that O'Connor believes could be a leg up for the team. Offensively, O'Connor is looking for junior quarterback Tommy Morgan to help create a more balanced offense out of the Hillies' pistol look. "I think Tommy will become the leader that I know he is this season," said O'Connor. "He got beat up last year, but he has a year under his belt and can put this team on his shoulders." Captains Nick DeFusco and Taylor Sullivan will also be looked toward for leadership, especially DeFusco, who O'Connor calls a "very vocal leader." In order to compete week in and week out, the Hillies must grow up quick in the defensive backfield.

Lawrence

  • Last year's record: 3-8
  • Strength: Speed and athleticism.
  • Concerns: Depth.
  • Coach: Mike Yameen (7th season, 15-51)
  • Playing surface: Artificial turf
  • Schedule: Complete list of games
  • showReturning: 18 lettermen
    • Lenin Amparo, DL, Junior, 5-11, 220
    • Alonso Arias, DL, Senior, 5-11, 230
    • Nathan Baez, QB, Senior, 5-5, 155
    • Mario Encarnacion, WR, Senior, 5-6, 150
    • Marionel Garcia, LB, Senior, 5-8, 195
    • Omar Garcia, OL, Senior, 6-1, 250
    • Robert Hughes, DL, Junior, 5-9, 270
    • Alfred Kimani, OL, Senior, 5-11, 200
    • Brian Montero, RB, Senior, 5-4, 140
    • Chris Pena, LB, Junior, 5-7, 190
    • Fidel Pichardo, WR, Senior, 6-1, 185
    • Janer Reyes, OL, Senior, 6-2, 265
    • Joel Rodriguez, WR, Senior, 6-3, 190
    • Kelvin Severino, RB/LB, Senior, 5-9, 190
    • James Urbaez, OL, Senior, 6-1, 240
    • Jorby Vargas, DL, Senior, 5-10, 210
    • Giovanni Vasquez, RB, Senior, 5-8, 175
    • Allan Zapata, OL, Senior, 5-9, 200

The ultimate goal for Yameen's Lancers is to make a run at the MVC Small title. Yameen says that his team's success will depend on how quick his young varsity players mature. The Lancers run the spread offense and a 3-5 defense. This enables them to use their speed and athleticism in order to make plays. Nathan Baez returns for a third year under center and his play will be the catalyst for the offense. Defensively, Kelvin Severino will set the tone from his linebacker spot. The Lancers have loaded up on tough out of conference tests, including a scrimmage against BC High and the regular-season opener against Reading. Yameen hopes that these tough tests will help the Lancers stand up to the rigor of a Merrimack Valley Conference schedule.

Methuen

  • Last year's record: 9-2
  • Strength: Quarterback and running back.
  • Concerns: Playing up to expectations.
  • Coach: Tom Tone (1st season, 0-0)
  • Playing surface: Grass
  • Schedule: Complete list of games
  • showReturning: 5 lettermen
    • Bobby Blanchard, DB, Senior, 6-2, 180
    • Eric Lacroix, QB/DB, Senior, 6-0, 170
    • Billy Parker, TE/DL, Senior, 6-2, 185
    • Gio Rivera, DL, Junior, 6-0, 170
    • Matt Whittaker, OL, Senior, 6-1, 195

Tom Tone takes the reigns of a Methuen squad that has increased its win total each of the past three years. Tone was the offensive coordinator for four years prior to becoming the head coach. Even after losing Cal Carroll to graduation, the cupboard isn't bare. Eric Lacroix will play quarterback after playing cornerback last year and Ryan Savastano returns at the running back position. "Eric is a playmaker and a really smart player and Ryan is a hard worker and a leader," said Tone. One player to keep an eye on is defensive end Gio Rivera. Rivera earned his way into the rotation at the end of last season and will be looked at to provide pressure on opposing quarterbacks.

Tewksbury

  • Last year's record: 5-6
  • Strength: Senior leaders.
  • Concerns: Inexperience on defense.
  • Coach: Brian Aylward (15th season, 75-71-1)
  • Playing surface: Grass
  • Schedule: Complete list of games
  • showReturning: 5 lettermen
    • Chris Bettano, RB/DB, Senior, 5-7, 155
    • Ryan Eatherton, OL/DL, Senior, 5-10, 200
    • Brad Gahagan, RB/S, Senior, 5-6, 150
    • Kevin Saunders, QB/DB, Senior, 6-1, 170
    • Derek Tarpey, OL/DL, Senior, 5-11, 180

With such a tough league schedule ahead of the Redmen, Aylward knows that his senior leaders will play a big role in how successful his squad is. Quarterback Kevin Saunders returns for his senior season. His duties won't be limited to calling plays, however. Saunders will also moonlight as a safety, punter, and kick-off specialist. "Kevin does everything," said Aylward. "He is tough and we ask him to do a lot. He makes plays." Joining Saunders in the backfield is Chris Bettano, who Aylward described as a versatile back who can run between the tackles and bounce it to the outside. The Redmen need to grow up on defense where middle linebacker Derek Tarpey will be looked to for leadership.

3 games to watch

Sept
24

The Crimson Tide visit the Eagles in Week 3 for a rematch of last season’s Division 1 Super Bowl.

Oct
14

Marshfeld handed the Atlantic Coast League champs their only loss last season and this one could decide the league title again.

Nov
11
North Attleborough at Mansfield

Coaches Don Johnson and Mike Redding — former teammates at North Attleboro and Holy Cross — face off after each led their teams to impressive 10-1 seasons last fall.

Preseason Top 20

Rank Team Last year
1 Everett 12-0
2 Duxbury 13-0
3 BC High 6-4
4 Catholic Memorial 5-5
5 Brockton 8-3
6 Xaverian 8-3
7 Mansfield 12-1
8 St. John's Prep 8-5
9 Bridgewater-Raynham 10-3
10 Andover 8-4
11 Dracut 8-4
12 Weymouth 11-1
13 Concord-Carlisle 10-3
14 Dennis-Yarmouth 10-2
15 Lincoln-Sudbury 8-4
16 Reading 12-1
17 Gloucester 13-0
18 North Andover 10-2
19 Billerica 5-6
20 Chelmsford 7-4