2009 EMASS Football Preview

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Div 1 Catholic Conference

BC High

  • Last year's record: 11-1
  • Strength: Offensive and defensive lines.
  • Concerns: Inexperience.
  • Coach: Jon Bartlett (2nd season, 11-1)
  • Playing surface: Artificial turf
  • Schedule: Complete list of games

Despite being on top of the hill following a Super Bowl victory, the Eagles already face an uphill climb to repeat. BC High lost the Division 1 Player of the Year, Tyler Horan, its quarterback, Bill Kiley, and almost all of the rest of its starters from a year ago. Linemen Ryan McCourt and Emmanuel Riggins team up with receiver/cornerback AJ Okerke to represent the three returning starters from the Super Bowl run. Despite the alarming lack of experience, defending Division 1 Coach of the Year Jon Bartlett insists that the goals are not compromised. “Our outlook for the year is playing tough, hard-nosed, physical football,” he said. “Our expectation is to win the Catholic Conference.” Bartlett has not yet chosen a running back, instead having a “tailback of the day” in practices. Starting at quarterback will be Brendan Collins. As always, BC High’s line is projected to be a major advantage, with Bartlett getting Andrew Tallman back from various injuries that limited him to two games last season.

Catholic Memorial

  • Last year's record: 8-2
  • Strength: Speed.
  • Concerns: Size, Inexperience.
  • Coach: Alex Campea (6th season, 69-51)
  • Playing surface: Artificial turf
  • Schedule: Complete list of games
  • showReturning: 7 lettermen
    • Donald Bland, TE/LB, Senior, 6-0, 225
    • Tom Byrne, K
    • AJ Doyle, QB, Senior
    • Garrett Fitzgerald, OL/DL, Senior, 6-5, 305
    • John Gorman, FB/LB, Junior, 6-0, 205
    • Kwashadw Spence, DL/FB, 6-0, 240
    • Lorenzo Warren, RB/DB, Senior, 5-8, 175

Catholic Memorial made a serious run at the Catholic Conference title last season before faltering late in the season. After graduating 25 seniors, it is plausible to think the small window of opportunity may have closed on coach Alex Campea's squad. Campea, however, remains optimistic about his young team's chances. “We're the smallest school in the conference, so (losing 25) is a huge loss for us,” he said. “But we have some real good players behind them.” AJ Doyle, who started and won the first two games last season for an injured Dave Marshall, will be under center for the Knights. Despite losing a boatload of talent, such as Marshall, linemen Brennan Williams and Mike Minton, and running back/defensive backs Andrew DiBartolo and Delroy McDonald, CM retained some gamechangers on both sides of the ball. Senior Lorenzo Warren will take the majority of the snaps in both the offensive and defensive backfield. Garrett Fitzgerald, at 6-5, 305 pounds, will be back to anchor the line, and linebackers John Gorman and Donald Bland will be once again roam the middle of the field.

Malden Catholic

  • Last year's record: 6-5
  • Strength: Passing game.
  • Concerns: Defensive inexperience.
  • Coach: Bob Almeida (2nd season, 6-5 at Malden Catholic; 109-34-1 overall)
  • Playing surface: Artificial turf
  • Schedule: Complete list of games

In his first year as head coach at Malden Catholic, Bob Almeida guided the Lancers from 4-7 to over .500 in the ever-challenging Catholic Conference. Unfortunately, not one win came against a conference opponent. A tough schedule, coupled with youth on both sides of the ball but especially on defense, leaves the former Wilmington coach hoping for another winning season, but expects it to sow the seeds for a bright future. “We have a lot of youth,” said Almeida. “We're going to try and take it one game at a time, but I think we are going to be a very good team in the next couple of years." The line did lose Globe All-Scholastic Mark Sylvester, but still should hold up in a conference where you must run well to succeed. Two-way starter John Martin and former tight end Will Guinee will man the tackle positions. MC expects to have an able passing game, keyed by quarterback Tyler McVicker and receivers Quinn McDonough and Mike Kelliher.

St. John's Prep

  • Last year's record: 5-6
  • Strength: Run defense, defensive experience.
  • Concerns: Offensive experience.
  • Coach: Jim O'Leary (26th season, 174-88-2)
  • Playing surface: Grass
  • Schedule: Complete list of games
  • showReturning: 2 lettermen
    • Tyler Coppola, RB, Senior
    • Brendon Felder, RB/DB, Senior, 5-10, 166

St. John's Prep's 2008 season was a perfect example of a team peaking too early. The Eagles opened up the season with a four-game win streak, highlighted by a 20-7 win at Everett to stop the Crimson Tide's 63-game regular season winning streak. Prep dropped the next four and six out of the next seven to finish the season with a rare sub-.500 record. “We had a number of games that could have gone either way,” said coach Jim O'Leary. The Eagles' schedule won't get any lighter this season, with games against Everett and Brockton before traveling to Maryland for a bout against Mount St. Joseph. All of that preludes another slate of grinding Catholic Conference games. The Eagles will be without their leading scorer last season and talented defensive back, Brendon Felder, who transferred to a school in Pennsylvania. Picking up the slack will be in the backfield will be George Sessoms and Tyler Coppola. Chris Coady will step into the starting quarterback position and take snaps from an offensive line that returns only Andrew Dieselman.


  • Last year's record: 7-4
  • Strength: Quarterback, Skill players.
  • Concerns: Offensive and defensive lines depth.
  • Coach: Charlie Stevenson (17th season, 131-44-1)
  • Playing surface: Artificial turf
  • Schedule: Complete list of games
  • showReturning: 10 lettermen
    • Joe Colton, RB, Junior, 5-10, 180
    • Cam Colwell, OL/DL, Senior, 6-5, 280
    • Cal Cuff, LB, Senior, 6-1, 205
    • Jack Dustin, OL/DL, 6-2, 270
    • Mike Hyatt, LB, Senior, 6-0, 200
    • Kevin Ihlfeld, Junior, 6-0, 205
    • Alex Phelan, QB, Senior, 6-0, 185
    • Tom Strachan, OL/DL, 6-0, 220
    • Chris Tomasi, LB, Junior, 5-11, 195
    • Matt Tuleja, FB/LB, 6-2, 220

Last season, Xaverian rolled to a deceiving 7-4 record. The Hawks losses came by a combined total of 25 points, two of those to eventual Super Bowl champions, and were a mere play or two away from representing the Catholic Conference in the playoffs. “We probably played against the toughest schedule,” said coach Charlie Stevenson. “It's hard for anyone to go out there and win all those games, but I think we are going to be very competitive in every one.” If Xaverian can compensate for losing quarterback Anthony Varrichione (graduation) and running back Tony Knight (transfer), they could be one of the state's top teams. In a sense, replacing Varrichione has already been done. He broke his collarbone a couple games in, opening the door for Alex Phelan to step in and throw nine touchdown passes. Phelan will return as a senior and bring an extensive knowledge of the offense. Replacing Tony Knight will be much more difficult, but coach Charlie Stevenson is confident that his deep backfield will carry the load. Joe Colton and Chris Tomasi will run behind returning fullback Matt Tuleja and a stacked offensive line led by 6-5, 280 pound Cam Colwell. Defensively, Stevenson lost most of his ball-hawking secondary, but returns three starting linebackers in Cal Cuff, Mike Hyatt and Tomasi.

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.