2013 EMASS Football Preview

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Bay State - Herget

Dedham

  • Last year's record: 1-10
  • Strength: Defensive backs, experience, running game
  • Concerns: Passing efficiency.
  • Coach: David Flynn (3rd season, 24-53.)
  • Playing surface: Artificial turf
  • Schedule: Complete list of games

With the new playoff format in place, the Marauders return to Bay State Herget play after two years playing as an Independent. There were many growing pains during a one-win campaign a season ago, but coach David Flynn feels that valuable experience was gained and will be used toward a turn-around year. "[We] are looking to build upon all the positives taken from most of the team's returning starter's first varsity experience last year," said Flynn who returns 15 starters. Running back Jay Maxwell will look to spark the offense and is expected to handle the bulk of the workload for Dedham who will use a multiple spread attack. He will also spearhead a defensive backfield that includes captain Eric DeAngelis, Ron Pucci and Gersaint Excellent. The strength of both lines comes from senior Mason Costa as four starters return to the trenches. Linebacker Joe Linnehan will serve as the anchor of their 4-4 defense as the Marauders look to attack their opponents up front.

Milton

  • Last year's record: 6-5
  • Strength: Experienced quarterback, running game and offensive line
  • Concerns: Defensive pass coverage
  • Coach: Jim Bowes (5th season, 12-32)
  • Playing surface: Artificial turf
  • Schedule: Complete list of games

When the Wildcats started their 2012 campaign 1-5, it looked as if a repeat of their 1-10 season from 2011 was imminent. Instead, Milton rattled off five straight wins to finish their season over .500 as head coach Jim Bowes equaled the win total from his first three years at the helm. Senior signal-caller Liam Collins will take his place behind center with two full seasons of experience under his belt and will look to utilize a skilled receiving corps led by junior Jonathan Pierre who led the team with six touchdown receptions a year ago. Chula Loomis and Leroy Goodman provide Collins with stability in the backfield, giving the offense a wealth of go-to options. Senior linemen Zack Mazzarella and Kevin Sampson will give Collins some time to work his reads while both also factor in the pass rush on the defensive side of the ball, with Loomis standing tall behind them in the linebacking unit. The Wildcats will be tested right out of the gate when they face Division 2 Super Bowl runner-up Mansfield in week one.

Natick

  • Last year's record: 11-2
  • Strength: Passing game
  • Concerns: Running game
  • Coach: Mark Mortarelli (4th season, 25-10)
  • Playing surface: Grass
  • Schedule: Complete list of games

You would be hard pressed to find a better passing attack than that of the Redhawks. With the return of All-Scholastic Troy Flutie, the sky is once against the limit for Natick.s hopes of returning to glory. However, the team will have to do without star wide receiver and defensive back Brian Dunlap, who racked up 155 catches and 35 touchdowns in just two seasons. He suffered a season-ending foot injury in a scrimmage two weeks before the start of the season. Flutie, who is bound for Boston College, is in his senior season at quarterback, and is a threat with both his arm and legs (over 3,000 yards passing and 1,000 yards rushing last year). Add to the mix senior receivers Alex Hilger and Justin Robinson and you have a recipe for big offense. Natick.s running game may be a question mark, but with a passing attack like this, the door will be open for someone to breakout behind Flutie. Defensively the Redhawks will rely on senior Mike Abbruzzese to lock down the opponents passing attack, while senior Gus Black leads the linebacking unit. With a loss in last year.s Division 2A Super Bowl fresh in their memories, look for Natick to come out swinging as they try to return to the title game under the new playoff format.

Norwood

  • Last year's record: 3-8
  • Strength: Senior leadership, skill positions
  • Concerns: Inexperience on both sides of the ball
  • Coach: John Sarianides (4th season, 13-20)
  • Playing surface: Grass
  • Schedule: Complete list of games

Just when it looked as if the Mustangs had turned a corner with a 7-4 record in 2011, they returned to norm with their third 3-8 mark in four seasons. However, there was much to take away from last season, as their offense showed great bursts, scoring 20 or more points on six occasions. Those results may not be so easy to duplicate as the offense looks to regroup in most of the skill positions, including the quarterback role which has come down to sophomores Joe Leanos and Jake Vail. The offensive and defensive lines have been depleted, but coach John Sarianides plans to use multiple looks and players to bring the units up to par as quickly as possible. Despite the lack of experience, this is a team that put a major scare into Natick last season, so they are always capable of catching teams off guard. "We only return four total starters on both sides of the ball," said Sarianides. "Despite that, we expect to be competitive. We believe that once our young guys come around, we'll be a tough out."

Walpole

  • Last year's record: 10-1
  • Strength: Offensive line, quarterback, senior leadership.
  • Concerns: Defensive backfield, receivers.
  • Coach: Barry Greener (5th season, 39-7)
  • Playing surface: Artificial turf
  • Schedule: Complete list of games

How do you fix a system in which a one-loss team with the most prolific offense in the state doesn't make the postseason? Easy, restructure the playoff system. The Rebels stood as the perfect example of why change was needed after a fantastic 2012 that was upended by just one blemish, to league rival Natick. Senior quarterback Will Bolster (17 TD passes as a junior) returns to key an offense that averaged 39.6 points per game a season ago. Gone are his two top scoring threats - Chris Collins and Mike Rando - but Connor Moriarty is an ample target out of the backfield. The offensive line will provide Bolster with tons of time to find his targets. Senior captains Noah Kung and Nick Cordopatri provide stability up front, with junior Matt Ordway filling the middle as a guard. The new playoff format was custom-built for a team like Walpole - with an eye on exacting a little revenge against Natick.

Wellesley

  • Last year's record: 6-5
  • Strength: Receiving corp and defensive experience.
  • Concerns: Interior line experience.
  • Coach: Jesse Davis (2nd season, 6-5)
  • Playing surface: Grass
  • Schedule: Complete list of games

Jesse Davis' first go as head coach of his alma mater was a success. He turned a two-win team into a dangerous six-win squad, as evident by their signature win over Bay State power Natick. Bay State All-Star Brian Pederson, a 6-foot-3, 255-pound offensive tackle and defensive end, will be a force on both sides of the ball. Linebackers Brigham Blake and John Wilson will provide coverage across the middle of the field that will cause fits for the opposition's passing game. John Fadule takes over as quarterback, but will work with a matured receiving unit led by Matt Dziama (5 TD receptions), Ned Holmes (3 TDs) and John Wilson (1 TD). Davis will also look to Dziama to secure the defensive backfield as the Raiders look to take inject themselves into the Herget title race.

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3 games to watch

Sept
6

Duxbury comes in with a 42-game regular-season winning streak, while Abington went 13-0 and won a Div. 4 Super Bowl last year.

Sept
20

This is Dorchester's first home game ever on the newly renovated Roberts Field. LA brings All-Scholastic QB Kyle Dance.

Oct
25
Natick at Walpole

These two preseason Top 10 teams tied for first in the Bay State Herget last year. This game could well decide the title again.

Preseason Top 20

Rank Team Last year
1 St. John's Prep 11-1
2 Everett 11-1
3 Natick 11-2
4 Reading 13-0
5 Brockton 9-4
6 Lowell 9-2
7 Barnstable 11-1
8 Duxbury 11-1
9 Walpole 10-1
10 Mansfield 8-5
11 Bridgewater-Raynham 5-6
12 Central Catholic 9-2
13 Xaverian 4-7
14 Needham 8-3
15 Plymouth South 8-4
16 King Philip 10-1
17 BC High 4-6
18 Bishop Feehan 10-2
19 Weymouth 8-4
20 Andover 10-2