Mass. High Schools: Belmont Football 2019 Season Preview

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The Belmont Marauders seem optimistic about their 2019 campaign with hopes of returning to the MIAA D3 North playoffs and going a bit further than last year. (PHOTO: Matt Noonan/NoontimeSports.com)

By NoontimeSports.com | @NoontimeSports 

Coach Yann Kumin seems content about his team’s preseason practices thus far.

“It’s been a good preseason so far,” said Kumin, who is excited to coach the Belmont Marauders this fall.

Kumin’s crew mustered just three wins in seven regular-season contests last fall but still managed to secure a spot in the Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association (MIAA) Division 3 North playoffs. Belmont fell to Danvers in the quarterfinals but erased memories of their postseason setback to the Falcons with a thrilling come-from-behind Thanksgiving Day win over Watertown.

Perhaps their exciting win against the Raiders is a sign of things to come this fall for a Marauders squad that returns a slew of talent on both sides of the ball, especially at wide receiver.

According to Kumin, this year’s wide receivers are “probably one of the more talented” groups he has coached since being named the sideline boss of the Marauders prior to the 2014 season.

Additionally, Kumin is excited for his defense, too – he and his staff welcomed back a slew of talent at the skill positions, but currently, the coaching staff is trying to find replacements for the four seniors that were spotted up-front one year ago.

“We’ve got to fill those gaps up-front,” said Kumin, “and those big guys are the ones that motor the team and make the offense go and make the defense stout, so that has been our focus of camp to get that unit operating and working at the level we want it.”

 

Whoever is spotted up-front on defense will certainly need to be extra prepared as Belmont competes against some of the state’s best talent in the Middlesex League, a conference Kumin considers one of the “best leagues in the state.”

Said Kumin, “I love being a Middlesex League coach. I was a defensive coordinator with Stoneham, so I got an early taste (of the league) there, (but) you have to play your best game week-to-week in the league in order to win. So, that’s kind of our focus in these first two weeks and the scrimmage weeks is quality of execution. That is something that is really important to us, going out and getting quality reps and execution (while) staying out of negative plays.”

For Belmont to enjoy a successful season, they will need to lean on their five captains, Avery Arno (quarterback), Ryan Santoro (fullback/inside linebacker), Justin Rocha (cornerback/wide receiver), Zachary Hubbard (wide receiver), and Ryan Hoffman (center/interior tackle) to guide the squad, both in and outside conference play.

Kumin spoke highly of his five captains prior to Monday’s practice – he considers them all great leaders for the program.

“We take leadership really seriously in this program,” said Kumin. “One of the things we say is that being a captain and leadership, in general, is the first to serve and the last to be served … all five of (our captains) have been primed and taught by the guys who came before them and that is what the mantle of leadership and responsibility means in this program.”

Additionally, Kumin commended his other seniors and upperclassmen for their leadership and commitment to the program. “I have always kind of had that here (in Belmont) – I am really lucky to have it,” he said.

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Mass. High Schools: Needham Football 2019 Season Preview

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Needham High School football coach Doug Kopsco directs his players through a practice drill. (PHOTO: Matt Noonan/NoontimeSports.com)

By Matt Noonan | @MattyNoonz11

For Doug Kopsco, his first season as the head coach of the Needham High School football team seemed to go pretty well.

Kopsco’s Rockets posted a winning record of 7-4 last fall, which included a postseason win over Newton North in the quarterfinals of the Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association (MIAA) D1 South playoffs and an exciting one-point victory over archrival Wellesley on Thanksgiving Day.

Heading into his second season with his alma mater’s football program, Kopsco appears more relaxed. In fact, he seems to be enjoying his new role with the Rockets, who are expected to once again contend for a Bay State Conference (BSC) Herget title this fall. 

“Really at the end of the day, it isn’t about x’s and o’s. It is about the culture, it is about the kids and it is about the family enviornment,” said Kopsco, who was previously a coordinator for the Rockets football program before taking over for coach Dave Duffy last season.

“It’s one thing to preach it and talk about it, but it is another thing to invite that environment and share that environment, and get the kids involved with creating that culture. And I think these guys did a great job of that this year.”

Kopsco says what has made this season’s preseason so much fun has been the competition – there seems to be multiple positions up for grabs due to some graduation losses, especially on the offense.

“We have a ton of competition this year,” said Kopsco.

“Last year, I think we knew (who our starters would be), and that’s both gratifying and exciting … but this year, all spots are open, so everyone is working hard, everyone is pushing each other and there is no kind of gimme spots.”


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Needham’s 2019 Football Season Outlook

Needham’s 2018 SeasonThe Rockets enjoyed a successful first season under coach Doug Kopsco, winning five of seven regular-season contests along with one postseason game, too.

Their run toward an MIAA D1 South championship concluded in the semifinals with a 35-32 loss to Catholic Memorial, but Needham would close the season on a high note by defeating Wellesley, 14-13, on Thanksgiving Day.

Key DepaturesThe Rockets graduated some key pieces from last year’s offense, including tight end Matt Smith, who will be competing for Duke University this fall.

Jack Murmes, who was also a tight end, will be playing for Assumption College this season, while quarterback Charlie Ogletree will be suiting up for Bentley University.

Players to WatchTyler Reid returns for his final season – the senior tri-captain will be spotted in the backfield at halfback and is someone Kopsco will certainly rely on this season.

Odahri Hibberts returns for his final season – he will be lining up in the slot and at cornerback on defense.

Ryan Villa is back for his final season with the Rockets and will be playing offensive tackle and guard.

Filling the holes on defenseWith just two student-athletes returning on defense with starting experience, Kopsco and his staff will be looking for some new additions this fall to fill all three levels.

“We have on defense have two kids coming back that have starting experience, so it is all wide open,” said Kopsco, “but we have (had holes to fill on defense from previous seasons) and honestly, we ended up with some of our better defenses.”

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Upcoming ScrimmageNeedham will compete against Wayland (the game will be held at Weston) on Friday, August 30th. Kopsco is excited for his team to compete against another squad prior to their initial game of the 2019 season on Friday, September 6th at Natick.

Said Kopsco, “They are always super well-prepared, great coaching staff, and it is a wonderful time to test out where we are at this point of the season … it is a wonderful opportunity to see how much we have taken in so far.”

A challenging opening monthNeedham will certainly be tested in the first few weeks of the season when they compete against Natick (week one) and Tewksbury (week two) and Newton North (week three).

Tewksbury advanced to the MIAA D3 Super Bowl – they lost to Springfield Central at Gillette Stadium – but are expected to once again be a team to beat in Merrimack Valley Conference (MVC).

“We’re excited (about our upcoming games),” said Kopsco. “Natick’s awesome, great coaches and super-well prepared. This is going to be a super-competitive game. We won last year, but they won the year before, so I think it is a good chance to see how we can come out of the gates as a team and a family, and hopefully, we come out on top.

“(Tewksbury) is a great team. This is just a great team. They are very versatile on offense, they give you a lot of different looks, they can do a lot of different things to you, so we just need to (make sure) we’re prepared, ask good questions during the week and we need to make sure everyone knows their assignments.”

Coach Dave Duffy returns to the sidelinesAfter announcing his retirement last summer following a very impressive 19-years of coaching the Rockets, coach Dave Duffy has returned to Needham to help his former squad continue its recent success.

Kopsco is very excited to have his former coach back on the sidelines – he is certainly eager to learn more from him as the season progresses.

“We were very fortunate this year” to have coach Duffy back, explained Kopsco, who played fullback and linebacker for the Rockets before returning to the program as a defensive coordinator.

“I didn’t want to hound him too much, but I really always wanted to work with Roy Johan and Dave Duffy. I am still learning from both of them, (but) they are amazing coaches with 35 years of varsity experience between the two of them alone, so we’re really going to lean on them heavily this year to make sure we’re headed in the right direction.”


Needham’s 2019 Schedule

  • Friday, September 6th – at Natick, 6 p.m.
  • Friday, September 13th – vs. Tewksbury, 6 p.m.
  • Friday, September 20th – vs. Newton North, 6 p.m.
  • Friday, September 27th – at Weymouth, 7 p.m.
  • Friday, October 4th – at Braintree, 7 p.m.
  • Friday, October 18th – vs. Milton, 6 p.m.
  • Friday, October 25th – vs. Walpole, 6 p.m.
  • Thursday, November 28th – at Wellesley, 10 a.m.

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Player Perspective: Nick Ostrowski (WPI)

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Nick Ostrowski will be tasked with leading a talented WPI defense this fall, beginning next Friday, September 6th when the Engineers host Worcester State. (PHOTO COURTESY: Frank Poulin/WPI Athletics)

By NoontimeSports.com | @NoontimeSports 

We’re another day closer to a brand new season of New England Division III football – can you feel the excitement in the air?

There is excitement swirling around the WPI Engineers, who enter the upcoming season as a team to watch, both in the region and New England Women’s and Men’s Athletic Conference (NEWMAC).

Led by a talented senior class, including linebacker Nick Ostrowski, the Engineers are poised to contend with MIT and Springfield College for the top spot in the conference.

Ostrowski enters his final season with the Engineers with a great deal of optimism – he believes both the offense and defense will be much improved from a year ago after WPI concluded its 2018 campaign with a 6-4 record.

The Charlton, Massachusetts native posted career-highs last fall in total tackles (76.0) and tackles per game (8.4). He credits his success on the gridiron to his coaches and teammates, both past and current, who have inspired him to work even harder this summer, so he can enjoy a successful final season with the Engineers.

What did you do this summer to prepare yourself for a successful (and final) season with the Engineers? 

This summer was a great off-season for the team. Before we left for summer break we challenged each other to come back in the fall bigger, faster, and stronger by religiously following Coach Dan Ross‘s summer program. A lot of guys were working summer jobs around Worcester, so we were able to get a good group of guys together for the lifts and running.

This summer we definitely did more conditioning in order to have more wind for those late game situations. A big focus this summer was also to stay in contact with the team to ensure everyone was doing well and working hard.

You enjoyed one of your best seasons with WPI last fall. What made last season so successful from your perspective? 

It started with some good coaching followed by (a slew of) repetitions in practice last season. I felt like most of the game were slowing down for me, which allowed for better keys and quicker reads.

We have also had a lot of great mentors in (this program) the last couple of years, including Brian Murtagh and Sam Malafronte. Both Brian and Sam were guys we looked up to as younger linebackers, and I hope to replicate their leadership while being a good mentor to the younger guys on our team (this fall). 

We have a great foundation to build off of from one year ago with some younger guys gaining (in-game experience) and reps due to some injuries. I am very excited for this season (and to see) what we can do.

How have preseason practices gone from your perspective? Also, how has the defense looked?

Preseason has been going great with a lot of guys working very hard, but there is still a lot of work to do before our first game. Everyone on the team is focusing on getting better at a few things every day.

Since our team is pretty experienced, we focus on the details and the little things within a practice so we can try and perfect our techniques and movements.

The defense is looking very good (thus far) and we are excited to get on the field (and face future opponents). We are trying some new things out defensively and are being tested both mentally and physically, but we are performing very well under these circumstances.

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Nick Ostrowski (51) is one of many seniors to watch on WPI this fall. (PHOTO COURTESY: Matt Noonan/NoontimeSports.com)

What are some goals and objectives you have for both yourself and team this fall? 

A big goal for us this fall is just to constantly get better in each practice and each game. We need to focus on one game at a time and treat each week as if we are 0-0.

We look forward to getting out on the field and hopefully our hard work this summer can translate to (our upcoming) games.

You are one of many seniors on this year’s squad, so how do you and your classmates want to end your time with this program? 

Our senior class is extremely talented – we are also a very close group, too.

We were fortunate enough to be part of the WPI football program for three consecutive winning seasons, which is a pretty special thing, especially when looking at our team’s history. A good ending to our time (in Worcester) would be to continue that (recent success) and to win a NEWMAC crown.

We know we have the tools to achieve these goals, so we just need to go out there and execute on the field.

Finally, your team begins its season against Worcester State next Friday. Excited to compete under the lights for the final time? 

September 6th cannot come soon enough, we are very excited to take the field next Friday (against Worcester State).

The guys are fired up to get out there and show how we improved as a team.


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Mass. High Schools: Dedham Football 2019 Season Outlook

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By Matt Noonan | @MattyNoonz11

Months after their most successful campaign in more than a decade, Dedham High School football coach David Flynn is optimistic about his Marauders continuing the program’s recent success this fall, despite graduating 26 student-athletes from last year’s team.

“We will replace (our seniors from last season) with the hard-working juniors, who put forth great effort in making sure they were always ready to go if needed (last fall),” said Flynn.

The juniors, which Flynn referred to, are now seniors. And all 12 of them, including Patrick Glennon, Connor Freeman, Justin Kelley, Jack Flanagan, and Kevin O’Leary will be tasked with helping Dedham attempt to take another step forward in the program’s ultimate preseason goal of winning a Divison 6 Super Bowl.

Dedham returned to the postseason last fall but saw its bid toward the ultimate prize conclude in the semifinals of the Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association (MIAA) D6 South playoffs to Old Rochester. Old Rochester advanced to the D6 state title but lost to Stoneham at Gillette Stadium.

The Marauders and Bulldogs are not scheduled to meet this fall in the regular season but did secure spots on the Boston Herald D6 Preseason Poll. Dedham secured the third position in the eight-team poll, while Old Rochester checked-in fifth. Ashland secured the top spot, while Cardinal Spellman placed second.


Dedham Marauders Football Team Capsule

Dedham’s 2018 Season: The Marauders enjoyed its best season in nearly a decade, capturing six of seven regular-season contests to secure the fourth seed in the MIAA D6 South playoffs.

Dedham defeated Apponequet, 34-14, in the MIAA D6 quarterfinals before falling to Old Rochester, 34-14, in the semifinals.

The Marauders concluded their 2018 campaign with ultimately eight wins, as well as a second-place finish in the Tri-Valley League (TVL) Small (Medway won the division with an 8-3 record).

Dedham’s 2019 Strengths: Team toughness, athleticism, and depth at the skill positions.

How many returners? Two on defense and one on offense.

Players to Watch this fall: Sean Glennon (Wide Receiver/Defensive Back), Chris Schmidt (Wide Receiver/Defensive Back), Joe Powers (Quarterback), Larry Lyman (Tight End/Defensive End), Matt DeVirgilio (Halfback/Defensive Back), Ryan Davis (Halfback/Linebacker), Elijah Brown (Offensive Line/Defensive Line), Matt Mammone (Halfback/Linebacker), and Zachary Spinello (Offensive Line/Defensive Line).

Dedham’s 2019 Schedule

  • September 6th – at East Bridgewater, 7 p.m.
  • September 13th vs. Medfield, 7 p.m.
  • September 27th – at Medway, 6:30 p.m.
  • October 4th – vs. Bellingham, 7 p.m.
  • October 11th – vs. Millis, 7 p.m.
  • October 18th – at Dover-Sherborn, 5 p.m.
  • October 25th – at Norton, 7 p.m.
  • November 28th – vs. Norwood, 10 a.m.

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Player Perspective: Alec Coleman (Western New England)

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Alec Coleman is ready to lead the Western New England Golden Bears this fall. (PHOTO COURTESY:

By NoontimeSports.com | @NoontimeSports

We’re another day closer to a brand new season of New England Division III football, which means it’s time for our second preseason ‘Player Perspective’ post featuring Alec Coleman of Western New England.

The Arlington, Massachusetts native enjoyed a very successful junior season last fall, tallying 40 touchdowns in 11 games, including 21 on the ground.

Coleman rushed for 867 yards on 113 carries for an average of 78.8 yards per contest while completing 167 of 286 passes for 1,964 yards and 21 touchdowns.

The veteran signal-caller is optimistic about his final season with the Golden Bears, who commence their 2019 campaign with a visit from Springfield College on Saturday, September 7th at 1 p.m. Coleman loves the local rivalry between both schools and considers each meeting a “battle for every inch on the field.”

What did you do this summer to prepare yourself for a successful final season with the Golden Bears? 

I trained seven days a week – I followed our summer workout program, which focused on two things: weight-lifting and conditioning. Additionally, I trained multiple times a week with my quarterback coach, too, while watching game film and studying the playbook.

Lastly, I tried to do my best to stay in contact with my coaches and teammates to make sure we kept a bond that will continue into the (upcoming) season.

You enjoyed your best season with WNE last fall, so how did your first two seasons prepare you for a successful junior year?  

Our head coach, Jason Lebeau, was our team’s offensive coordinator my first two seasons – he focused not just on our offense, but quarterbacks, too, so this allowed me to (build a relationship) with him.

Additionally, I was lucky enough to sit behind (and learn from) Anthony Service, who was our team’s quarterback my first two seasons. Anthony was an unbelievable resource for me. I learned a lot from simply watching him play, but also asking him questions about plays or reads, too.

I also want to credit the other two quarterbacks in my class (Brendan Smith and Jack Priester), who have competed with me every day. The competition between the three of us has made us better. We all have a love for each other and want the best for one another. 

What do you feel was your most productive (and successful) game last season? 

The Nichols College game (last October). I received the New England Football Writers (NEFW) Golden Helmet Award for Division II/III (following our team’s 49-14 win). I finished the game with five touchdowns (four rushing scores) and 306 total yards of offense.

How will the Frostburg State contest from last November in the NCAA Division III Tournament help both you and the team this upcoming season? 

Frostburg State is an unbelievable football program. Playing against a team of that caliber certainly made us better. We gave them a good game that provided us with the confidence that we can play against any team.

However, (the loss) left a sour taste in our mouths, which will (certainly) motivate this team to be bigger and better than one year ago.

Finally, being a senior, how do you want to end your time with the Golden Bears? I presume winning a championship, right? 

Of course, I would like to end my time (in Springfield) with a championship, but I have learned over time it is better to leave a place in a better situation than when you found it (or arrived at it. So, my biggest goal) is to make sure I help my teammates, who will be the future of this program, by coaching them and making sure they are ready to continue the tradition of this program, both next season and beyond.

The Western New England football program has given more to me than I could have asked for, so I want to make sure I do everything I can to give back to this program.


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