Merisma is clearing path for AIC offense
When American International College football coach Art Wilkins
watches Viondy Merisma
battle in the trenches, he is reminded of another Waltham High product now starting in the National Football League.
“Viondy reminds me of Mackenzy Bernadeau, who played against us for Bentley,’’ said Wilkins, referring to the former Northeast-10 Conference Lineman of the Year who is a starting guard for the Dallas Cowboys. “I haven’t seen every team in our league this year, but I consider Viondy among the best offensive linemen in our conference.’’
Wilkins thinks so highly of his 6-foot-4, 295-pound junior tackle that he’s considering nominating him as a Division 2 All-American.
“Viondy has great energy, athletic ability and intensity, and he can match up with anybody,’’ added Wilkins.
Merisma said Bernadeau’s ascension to the NFL has been an inspiration, and being compared to him is flattering.
“But I still have to be the best I can be and I have two more college seasons to do that,’’ he said. “I think about the NFL, but there’s a lot of work ahead.’’
Averaging 31.2 points per game featuring the conference’s top back, Terrell Williams (150.2 rushing yards per game), AIC (3-1 overall, 3-0 NE-10) hosts Stonehill in Springfield on Friday night.
Merisma, who played just four games his freshman year because of a knee injury, was making an impressive comeback in preseason camp last year, but suffered an ankle injury in the opener against C.W. Post.
“I thought he’d be out for the year and we were devastated when he went down again,’’ said Wilkins, “but he made a miraculous comeback the second half of the season, and even though he was sore and not really himself, by the end of the season he had really hit his stride.’’
Merisma spent countless hours in the trainer’s room and returned for AIC’s game against Bentley last fall.
“I reinjured the ankle in the second half and it was pretty tough but I played every game the rest of the way,’’ he recalled.
“If you’re an offensive lineman you’re always banged up, but this season I’m really feeling great,’’ he said.
A 2009 graduate of Waltham High School who attended Bridgton Academy in Maine before enrolling at AIC, Merisma arrived in Springfield with impressive credentials.
He was the Dual County League’s Lineman of the Year his senior season at Waltham, and was chosen for the Shriners’ Classic all-star game; he was also a league all-star in basketball as well as football.
Merisma said he owes his success to his football coach at Waltham High,
Paul Mayberry, who now is an assistant at Framingham State University.
“He was my mentor,’’ said Merisma. “He made me into an offensive lineman, both off the field in terms of preparation and what the position demanded. We still stay in touch.’’
Merisma had to work his way into the Hawks’ lineup.
He was a second-string tight end as a junior, but cracked the starting lineup his senior season at offensive and defensive tackle.
“I weighed 210 as a junior and I put on about 20 pounds in the offseason putting in four or five days a week at the gym, which I still do,’’ said Merisma.
He was honored as the Waltham Boys & Girls Club’s Youth of the Year in 2006. “I still work there today, helping out in the summer, giving food to children 18 and under in need,’’ he said.
“When I was a little kid I had that same kind of help from the club. I’ve tried to give back ever since.’’
Webson delivers for Roger Williams team
Already a dominant defensive starter for the men’s soccer team at Roger Williams University, former Bellingham High School star Kamali Webson
has emerged as a clutch player on the attack.
Webson tallied his fourth consecutive game-winning goal Saturday against Wentworth Institute of Technology with an accurate header. Three of the 6-foot-1 Webson’s goals have given Roger Williams 1-0 victories against Commonwealth Coast Conference opponents.
“Kamali is our center back and best defender, but he comes forward on set pieces and corners,’’ said head coach Jim Cook. “He knows where to go and he just beats people off the ball and drives to the net.
“We like him to pick the right moment to go forward, especially when a teammate can serve the ball to him in the upper third of the field.’’
Roger Williams was 8-2 overall and undefeated (3-0) in conference play prior to Tuesday night’s nonconference home game against New England Division 3 power Babson.
Second on the team with six goals and 12 points, Webson missed the 2009 season because of injury but rebounded to earn first team all-conference and All-New England recognition.
“Technically, he’s pretty good with his feet but Kamali’s strength is dominance in the air,’’ added Cook. “He can elevate with people marking and bumping him and he does it without fouling. He uses his body and height to get in good position, and his timing is excellent — and he does it at both ends of the field.’’
Westfield State junior Kristian Driscoll
(Lexington High) scored on a header with three seconds left in the first overtime give the visiting Owls a 2-1 victory Saturday over Worcester State in a men’s soccer contest. . . Babson College junior Julia Pochini
(Acton-Boxborough Regional) scored her first collegiate goal Saturday in a 5-0 field hockey win over Springfield; the breakthrough must have whetted her appetite, since she netted a second tally in the game for the streaking Beavers, who had won five straight to enter Tuesday’s game against Clark at 8-2.