Warriors have a new cast, seek same old success in ’14
By JIM SOUTHMAYD
WAKEFIELD — The Warrior football team clinched a playoff berth a year ago under the new playoff system, but didn’t advance far in the postseason. Wakefield did, however, carry on the fine tradition of the program by posting a winning overall record with a 6-5 mark (3-2 in the Middlesex League Freedom division).
The Warriors want to carry on that type of success, get back to the playoffs, and possibly make a run in the postseason. However, they will have to do so with many new faces on both sides of the ball as they return very few starters from last year.
The returning starters and letter winners will be looked to lead the team while the newer and younger players come along in terms of skill and experience at the varsity level.
“Our defense will have to carry us, especially early on,” said Head Coach Mike Boyages, entering his 18th year with a 126-54-3 record. “We have returning players at linebacker, on the defensive line, and at defensive back. We have some holes to fill.”
The biggest vacancy is at quarterback where seniors Mike Miller and Nick Maio handled the duties a year ago. Miller completed 47 out of 123 passes for 819 yards with six touchdowns five interceptions before being moved to wide receiver. Maio took over at QB and completed 49 out of 106 passes for 866 yards with seven TDs and five interceptions.
Battling for the starting QB position are seniors Will Bergendahl (6-0, 180) and Anthony Cecere (6-1, 175). Bergendahl played with the JV last season while Cecere got some reps in at quarterback at the JV levels as well. Cecere also played at wide receiver and defensive back with the varsity.
“We have been platooning both Will Bergendahl and Cecere,” said Boyages. “Right now, the starting position is a question mark. We’ll keep working with both of them and let the chips fall where they may.”
Wakefield has two younger QBs as well with junior Ned Buckley (5-10, 170) and sophomore Kobey Nadeau (6-1, 165).
One of Wakefield’s best athletes returns at running back. Senior co-captain Luke Martin (5-11, 190) was Wakefield’s leading rusher a year ago. Martin gained 504 yards on 94 carries with three touchdowns. Martin also is a fine receiver out of the backfield as he made 13 catches for 195 yards with three TDs.
Wakefield will be looking for depth in the backfield behind Martin with the graduation of Miller (377 yards on 106 carries and eight TDs score) and Brandon Panarese (261 yards on 67 carries with four TDS).
There are three returning wide receivers. They are seniors Chris Calnan (6-2, 170) and Brian Dickey (6-0, 160) along with junior Tighe Beck (6-3,180). Calnan had nine receptions for 196 yards and one TD, Dickey had two receptions for 36 yards, and Beck had seven catches for 163 yards.
The Warriors have two returning starters on the offensive line. Senior co-captain Joe DiFazio (5-11, 210) and senior Alex Kane (5-11, 240) return although Boyages said that Wakefield would like to use DiFazio more on the defensive side of the ball.
There are two more linemen that have experience and will be relied upon to help out. They are seniors Ben Joly (6-0, 230) and Eric Schilling (5-6, 210).
“We have eight starting positions to fill on offense,” said Boyages.
The defensive side of the ball is where Wakefield could be the strongest with three returning starters and letter winners with varsity experience. The Warriors will have to replace leading tacklers Mike Melanson (78 stops) and Zack Levine (70 sticks) who excelled on defense in 2013.
The three returning starters are Martin at linebacker, Cecere at defensive back, and DiFazio on the defensive line. Martin had 40 tackles, an interception, and a fumble recovery returned 60 yards for a touchdown last fall. Cecere made 15 tackles and had two interceptions. DiFazio had one quarterback sack.
Jack Brown, a 5-11, 195 senior, returns to play linebacker. Brown had 23 tackles, two interceptions, and a fumble recovery.
Calnan, Dickey, and Beck also played in the defensive backfield a year ago. Calnan had eight tackles, Dickey had 10 stops, and Beck had 28 tackles. Calnan and Dickey each had an interception as well.
Cecere was the team’s punter a year ago and he returns to that role once again. Wakefield, however, has been working on finding a replacement for Sal LoBrutto to do the placekicking. There are six to seven players that Wakefield has used in practice.
“Finding a placekicker has been a concern since it is such an important part of the game,” said Boyages. “We’ve going to give them a chance and we’ll go with the best kicker.”
The one advantage Wakefield has is numbers to choose from with over 100 players in the program and 72 among the seniors, juniors, and sophomores.
The rest of the senior class includes: Chris Saponaro (5-7, 130, WR/DB), Jamison Kenney (6-0, 190, WR/LB), Vin Ferretti (6-0, 150, K/DB), Joe Cresta (5-11, 175, WR/LB), Dylan Brady (6-1, 185, TE/LB), Tom Dascoli (5-11, 175, WR/DB), Chris Riley (5-10, 150, WR/DB), Vin Murdocca (5-7, 170, OL/LB), Pat Casaletto (5-8, 150, RB/DB), Rob Vozella (5-11, 175, WR/DB), Ryan Burns (6-2, 160, TE/LB), Brian Conroy (6-2, 205, OL/DL), Pat Boyson (5-10, 215, OL/LB), Jake Cataldo (6-2, 190, OL/LB), Matt Yirrell (5-10, 190, OL/DL), Alex Mansour (5-11, 220, OL/DL), Matt Iacoviello (6-0, 195, TE/DL), and Andrew Wallace (5-8, 170, WR/LB).
The rest of the junior class includes: Alex Fils-Aimes (5-11, 150, WR/DB), Nick Elcewicz (6-3, 175, TE/LB), Matt Smith (5-10, 145, WR/DB), Eric Smith (5-9, 160, WR/DB), Zach Conlon (5-10, 150, RB/DB), Kevin Russo (5-9, 165, WR/DB), Alex Jancsy (5-7, 160, RB/LB), Zach Kane (5-10, 200, RB/LB), Paul McGunigle (5-10, 190, RB/LB), Evan Gourville (5-9, 185, RB/LB), Matt Mercurio (5-10, 215, OL/LB), Jared Regan (6-0, 250, OL/DL), Nick Nice (6-3, 350, OL/DL), Brad Sletterink (6-0, 195, OL/DL), Brandon Baeringer (5-5, 175, OL/DL), Mike Hakioglu (6-1, 230, OL/DL), Logan Dunn (6-2, 270, OL/DL), Devin Pronco (5-8, 130, WR/DB), and junior Mike Moran (6-2, 160, WR/LB).
The rest of the sophomore class includes: Alex McKenna (6-0, 165, WR/DB), Pat Leary (6-0, 155, WR/DB), Carmen Sorrentino (5-9, 150, RB/DB), Will Shea (5-10, 160, RB/DB), Ryan Murray (5-8, 140, WR/DB), Ben Thompson (5-10, 165, WR/DB), Ben Piercy (5-10, 155, WR/DB), PJ Iannuzzi (5-7, 160, RB/LB), Brad Safner (5-9, 160, TE/LB), Cole Mottl (6-1, 195, TE/LB), Joe Marinaccio (5-9, 155, WR/LB), C.J. Wixon (5-11, 170, OL/DL), Matt Murdocca (5-6, 160, OL/DL), Tom Hayes (6-0, 190, OL/DL), Conor Gregson (5-8, 200, OL/DL), Mike Powers (5-9, 165, OL/DL), Anthony Denham (5-11, 260, OL/DL), Devin Shaw (5-8, 180, OL/LB), Dan Dimeglio (5-11, 205, OL/DL), Joe Connell (5-9, 205, OL/DL), Brendan O’Callahan (5-6, 130, WR/DB), and Bailey Ritter (5-9, 175, OL/DL).
Wakefield opens up the regular season tomorrow night at 7 p.m. when it hosts Lexington at Landrigan Field.