2009 EMASS Football Preview

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Div 2A Cape Ann (Large)


  • Last year's record: 8-4
  • Strength: Skill players, team speed.
  • Concerns: Inexperience on the lines.
  • Coach: James Pugh (21st season, 134-85)
  • Playing surface: Grass
  • Schedule: Complete list of games
  • showReturning: 13 lettermen
    • Jim Birchall, WR/DB, Senior, 6-0, 180
    • Evan Bunker, RB/LB, Senior, 6-0, 205
    • Collin Burke, WR/DB, Senior, 6-2, 185
    • Mike Camuso, WR/DB, Senior, 6-1, 175
    • John Daniels, TE/DE, Senior, 6-4, 205
    • Eric Dusel, RB/DB, Senior, 5-11, 180
    • Kurt Hunziker, TE/LB, Sophomore, 6-2, 210
    • Braden Kowalski, WR/DB, Senior, 6-1, 185
    • Jake Lawrence, LB/FB, Senior, 6-0, 195
    • Mike Magnifico, WR/DB, Senior, 6-0, 180
    • Jason Schwartz, WR/DB, Senior, 5-8, 180
    • Chris Splinter, QB/DB, Senior, 5-11, 180
    • JT Wheeler, RB/LB, Senior, 6-1, 200

Masconomet will have one of the best returning 1-2 punches in both the Cape Ann Large and, perhaps, the entire region with quarterback Chris Splinter and running back Evan Bunker. The two accounted for a combined 30 touchdowns last year, and could be even better in the upcoming season. The Chieftains will once again play a tough non-league schedule that includes bouts with Reading, Lowell, and Lincoln-Sudbury to prepare them for the CAL. Pugh said he likes his senior class a lot, and that, "when we look in our league we should be in the mix. There's a lot of parity in it, we'll be in the thick of it." George Alexandrou and Jake Lawrence will be two of the Chieftains' top defenders.

North Andover

  • Last year's record: 4-7
  • Strength: Skill positions
  • Concerns: Inexperience
  • Coach: John Rafferty (9th season, 52-34)
  • Playing surface: Artificial turf
  • Schedule: Complete list of games

North Andover posted back-to-back seven win seasons before falling to 4-7 last year after graduating a number of its best players. To turn it back around, Rafferty's squad will have to rely heavily on a running game led by senior Zac Iavonella, a starter who scored 10 touchdowns and registered 62 points for the Scarlet Knights last season. North Andover also has the luxury of a potent passing game led by sophomore quarterback Brandon Walsh, who threw for 1,094 yards as a freshman last year and blossomed as the season went along. If he continues development and the rest of the Scarlet Knight's youth step up, a return to seven wins - or even more - seems like a possibility.


  • Last year's record: 7-4
  • Strength: Attitude, effort.
  • Concerns: Inexperience.
  • Coach: Steve Hayden (28th season, 177-122)
  • Playing surface: Grass
  • Schedule: Complete list of games

Pentucket has the unenviable task of replacing many of its top players from a 2008 season in which the Sachems posted a 7-4 record and scored the second most points in the Cape Ann Large. The best bet for Hayden's squad will probably be returning back Austin Perreault, who scored four touchdowns last season and put in a solid showing as a secondary offensive weapons to players like Chris Modlish, Jordan Silva, and Dan Johanson. A number of graduations on defense leave the Sachems looking for players to step up there, as well.


  • Last year's record: 5-6
  • Strength: Leadership
  • Concerns: Depth
  • Coach: Jim O\'Leary (2nd season, 5-6)
  • Playing surface: Grass
  • Schedule: Complete list of games
  • showReturning: 2 lettermen
    • Mike Foley, TE, Senior, 6-1, 200
    • Brendan O\'Neil, RB/LB, Senior, 5-10, 198

O'Leary took a Triton team that went 1-10 in 2007 and steered them to a more respectable 5-6 showing in 2008. The Vikings stumbled down the stretch though, losing four of their last five against Cape Ann Large opponents. A better showing against conference rivals will be necessary this year for Triton to make a leap forward. O'Leary is pleased with his team's experience, having named five senior captains, of which three are linemen, one is a back, and one is an end. Brendan O'Neil is a running back/linebacker that O'Leary said "is good enough to play at the next level." He'll be a standout on both offense and defense, while tight end/linebacker Mike Foley is what O'Leary called "a quiet kid, but a true leader."


  • Last year's record: 9-2
  • Strength: Offensive and defensive lines.
  • Concerns: Overall depth.
  • Coach: Mike Barry (2nd season, 9-2)
  • Playing surface: Grass
  • Schedule: Complete list of games
  • showReturning: 8 lettermen
    • Evan Butters, RB/DB, Senior
    • Chris Cazeau, OL/DE, Senior
    • Bryan Fennelly, WR/DB, Senior
    • Dennis Gingras, OL/DE, Senior
    • Alex Leiskau, OL/DT, Senior
    • Daniel MacKinnon, TE/LB, Senior
    • Kevin Moriarty, RB/LB, Junior
    • John Moriarty, OL/DT, Senior

Wilmington doesn't return a whole lot in terms of numbers, something Barry acknowledges could hurt the Wildcats this season. Stephen Stewart leaves large shoes to be filled, but Barry said he likes the juniors and seniors on his team heading into the season. Wilmington will offer a balanced approach between the rush and the pass, and there are three returning starters on the defensive side.

10 games to watch


BC High has won both times they met in the past year, including last season's nail-biting Super Bowl.


Walpole hopes to put a tumultuous off-season in the rearview mirror as they start their 2009 campaign.


In an interesting non-league match-up, Hurd Stadium in Beverly will host its first-ever night football game.