Even though West Roxbury lost its season-opening game to Ashland on Friday afternoon, junior quarterback David Bertucci was just glad to be playing.
The day after football practice started on Aug. 20, Bertucci learned that he might have a heart condition that would prevent him from playing football.
“I had an abnormal EKG and it was probably the scariest thing I’ve ever heard in my life,” Bertucci said after the 20-12 loss to Ashland. “I’m just happy I can be out here with my team and play with these guys because I love them to death.
“There’s nobody else I’d rather play with.”
Three days after his Electrocardiography (or EKG) results showed an irregular heartbeat, Bertucci received word from a second doctor who cleared him to play.
“It was horrible,” he said of the three-day wait. “I couldn’t go to practice.”
Bertucci said the incident gave him a new outlook on his football career.
“You can’t take anything for granted,” he said. “You have to win as a team, lose as a team. Some people have the gifts but it’s up to you to go out and use them. You gotta use them the right way.”
West Roxbury started off the game rough, spotting Ashland a three-touchdown lead before they made a comeback that ultimately fell short.
“We did the same thing against Ashland last year,” Bertucci said. “Ashland went up 21 nothing, we were trailing 21-0 at half and we bounced back and lost by a score. This game we went down three scores but I knew we could battle back because I know we have a good team. We lost but it’s alright. It’s the first game of the season. They already have a game under their belt, and I’m just happy we could get out here and finally play a game.”
West Roxbury’s season opener was also coach Derek Wright’s first as a head coach.
Wright replaced Leo Sybertz, who retired after the 2007 season only to return for the 2010 and 2011, seasons. Wright served as Sybertz’s assistant the last two seasons.
“It was good to get the first game out of the way,” Wright said. “I wish it ended in a ‘W’ but we’ll go back to the drawing board. We’ll be OK.”
Wright said he was proud of the effort his team put into their comeback, even though they fell short 20-12 against Ashland.
“I mean we could’ve easily hung our heads when we were down 20-0 and guys stepped up,” he said. “We made it a game. We gave ourselves chances.”
A third first
Saturday morning marked the first start of the season for South Boston junior quarterback Sean Hunter.
Hunter was benched in Southie’s season-opening overtime loss to Latin Academy for disciplinary reasons.
“Yeah, I let [my team] down in a way because everybody was depending on me to play and step up and when that happens I have to try to make it up to my team,” Hunter said after a 6-0 loss to Dorchester on Saturday.
Hunter’s backup, Hakeine Walcott, passed for 111 yards in the Knights 26-20 OT loss to Latin Academy two weeks ago.
Hunter said he thinks he could’ve helped the Knights beat Latin Academy.
“It was hard, it was really hard,” he said of watching the game. “I saw a lot of things I could’ve done if I was playing. I know if I was in there it could have been a different outcome on defense and offense. It was real hard. I couldn’t watch half the plays going on.
“I’m really trying to make it up because I know it could have been a different outcome.”
But Hunter only completed one pass against Dorchester’s ferocious pass rush on Saturday.
“Every time I dropped back there was someone in my face,” Hunter said.
After Walcott led the Knight’s 20-point fourth quarter surge by throwing a 60-yard TD pass and returning an interception 80 yards for a touchdown, South Boston coach Sean Guthrie said he was unsure who he would start against Dorchester. After the Dorchester game, Guthrie said he planned to get Walcott involved in the offense more but failed to do so.
“In the heat of battle, the plan of getting him in there more went to the back burner,” Guthrie said.
Hunter said he thinks the Knights' offense would be more potent if he played quarterback in the shotgun formation and Walcott played quarterback under center.
“And have me at Z receiver,” Hunter said. “I think if we just focus more in practice [we’ll be fine] because in practice some people are lost on what we are doing. … If we get everything down we should be fine.”
About Boston Public Schools Sports BlogMore »
- Justin A. Rice -- A metro Detroit native, Rice is a Michigan State University (Go Spartans!) and Northeastern University graduate. Rice lives in the South End with his dog and wife, who unfortunately attended the University of Michigan ... his wife, that is. He curates the BPS Sports Blog and is always looking to write about city athletes with great stories. Have an idea? He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @GlobeJustinRice or @BPSspts.
- Ryan Butler -- A Rhode Island native and avid Boston sports fan, Butler played basketball, baseball and football throughout his time in Barrington Public Schools. Now currently in his middler year at Northeastern University, he joins Boston.com as a correspondent for the site's BPS coverage. Have a story idea? Contact him at email@example.com. Follow him on his Twitter @butler_globe.