2013 EMASS Football Preview

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Cape Ann - Large

Masconomet

  • Last year's record: 9-3
  • Strength: Depth and strength.
  • Concerns: Experience at quarterback.
  • Coach: James Pugh (25th season, James Pugh (25th season, 162-105))
  • Playing surface: Grass
  • Schedule: Complete list of games

Masconomet looks to have the makings of another playoff team as it welcomes back 13 starters, including senior running back Michael Tivinis, who was inactive for most of 2012 with a lingering hamstring problem. Head coach James Pugh expects Tivinis and fellow senior MacKenzie Cashin to be a dynamic backfield, calling them a "strong, athletic tandem" and one of the better units the program has seen. The Chieftains are in the Large division of the Cape Ann League after it split from the Northeastern Conference, and Pugh is looking forward to the challenge that presents. "We haven't played the Cape Ann teams in two years, so we're looking forward to it."

Newburyport

  • Last year's record: 6-5
  • Strength: Defense, team speed.
  • Concerns: Offense.
  • Coach: Ed Gaudiano (26th season, Ed Gaudiano (26th season, 159-109.))
  • Playing surface: Grass
  • Schedule: Complete list of games

With the hiring of new assistant coaches on the offensive side, Newburyport is ditching the shotgun in favor of running the trap option from under center. Junior Michael Shay leads an inexperienced offense that coach Ed Gaudiano thinks will benefit from having its bye week in Week 1, calling the unit "a work in progess." "We've got a lot of guys who were junior varsity guys (last year) who are trying to make the jump up," Gaudiano said. Meanwhile, the defense is anchored by league All-Star and senior Dillon Guthro, who enters his third season as a starter on the defensive line. Guthro was the defensive player of the year in the Cape Ann Small last year.

North Reading

  • Last year's record: 8-2
  • Strength: Work ethic.
  • Concerns: Inexperience at quarterback.
  • Coach: Jeff Wall (11th season, 11th season, 45-59.)
  • Playing surface: Artificial turf
  • Schedule: Complete list of games

North Reading graduated a strong senior class that helped the Hornets continue their dramatic rise as a program. But coach Jeff Wall doesn't want people to forget about this year's cast of seniors whom he said played a big role in last year's 8-2 campaign. "Everyone's kind of putting us in the shadows of last year, but these kids want to make a name for themselves," Wall said. The Hornets seem to be prepared for that challenge as they return six starters on both sides of the ball. Wall expects a big year out of senior running back CJ McCarthy out of the single wing, run-heavy attack. But North Reading was forced to make a quarterback change, with senior Ryan Sanborn running the show. Wall said Sanborn has never played the position before, but Wall isn't concerned since the passing attack is not a big part of the Hornet offense. "We needed pretty much our best athlete back there," Wall said. On defense, senior Michael Cresta mans the middle linebacker spot with his combination of aggressiveness and intelligence.

Pentucket

  • Last year's record: 6-5
  • Strength: Team unity.
  • Concerns: Experience, depth.
  • Coach: Steve Hayden (32nd season, Steve Hayden (32nd season, 202-141.))
  • Playing surface: Grass
  • Schedule: Complete list of games

Pentucket brings back a solid nucleus from last year's squad that includes seniors Ryan Kuchar (quarterback/defensive back) and D.J. Engelke (running back/defensive back). The pair have contributed since their sophomore seasons, but Engelke missed the majority of last year with a broken ankle. If the Sachems can stay healthy, coach Steve Hayden is optimistic about what 2013 can bring. "If our guy goes down, we want to have another guy come in and step up," Hayden said.

Saugus

  • Last year's record: 6-5
  • Strength: Team speed and athleticism.
  • Concerns: Inexperience.
  • Coach: Mike Broderick (9th season, Mike Broderick (9th season, 32-51.))
  • Playing surface: Grass
  • Schedule: Complete list of games

After making a four-win jump a year ago, Saugus enters trying to continue in the right direction. However, the Sachems graduated a large senior class, leaving only five returning starters on the roster. Coach Mike Broderick acknowledged there's been some mental mistakes through camp and the preseason, but is seeing signs of growth. "We are very excited for this team," Broderick said. He later added, "I know we play in a difficult league, but I see ourselves being very competitive." Saugus has a strong, two-headed backfield of senior Ryan Clarke and junior Dan Cacciola behind an offensive line consisting mostly of juniors. Clarke is a strong, tough runner while Cacciola, the Sachems' second-leading scorer in 2012, has tremendous athletic ability and vision.

Triton

  • Last year's record: 1-10
  • Strength: Experience.
  • Concerns: Leadership.
  • Coach: Pat Sheehan (4th season, Pat Sheehan (4th season, 7-26.))
  • Playing surface: Grass
  • Schedule: Complete list of games

Heading into 2012, Triton faced a problem: only five seniors. This year, that misfortune is paying off, as the Vikings enter 2013 with a roster stockpiled with varsity experience, including 16 starters. "There's a lot of belief that we can be a very competitive football team this year and we understand there's a lot more work to be done," coach Pat Sheehan said. Sheehan raved about junior lineman Ellsworth Rogers, saying "he has the potential to be a dominant offensive and defensive lineman in the league" with his combination of strength and speed. Quarterback Bradley Whitman returns for his senior campaign after starting 10 games a year ago, and perhaps the biggest factor is the health of senior running back Justin Spillane, who despite playing only four games with a shoulder injury still managed to be the team's leading rusher. "He's running strong, his shoulder feels strong," Sheehan said. "We have high hopes for him."

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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