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Mansfield’s Jeff Hill a great catch for Bentley football

Jeff Hill snaring one of his team-leading TD passes.

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Jeff Hill snaring one of his team-leading TD passes.

Mansfield’s Hill aims for big fall at Bentley

Jeff Hill racked up a team-leading 10 touchdowns last season for Bentley University. As a sophomore. The Mansfield High grad’s focus for his junior season: developing a more explosive first step and improving his overall quickness.

That competitive edge will be crucial for Bentley’s offense and the 6-foot-4, 210-pound Hill, after the other two-thirds of the Falcons’ prolific receiving corps last fall, Quincy’s Bill Kiley and Duxbury’s Sean Cross, graduated this year.

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“I know initially I’ll be kind of a marked man with other teams trying to keep me from being a deep threat,’’ Hill said, but quarterback Danny Guadagnoli “knows where I want the ball and the best areas of the field to get it to me, and we have some talented young receivers.’’

This summer, Hill has worked out with Mansfield High assistant football coach Tim Selmon in the weight room and on the field.

“We have a drill that’s really helped,” said Hill, who has also played in a basketball league in Foxborough. “I’ll get in my stance and Tim will bounce a tennis ball and make me grab it before it bounces, which gets me quickly off the line.’’

Recently named a preseason Division 2 All-America (third team) by Beyond Sports Network, Hill earned first-team all-Northeast-10 Conference honors last fall with 51 receptions for a team-high 995 yards.

The most dramatic was a game-winning 70-yard score with 51 seconds to play at conference foe Assumption.

Bentley (8-2 overall, 6-2 conference) prevailed, 21-14, after Hill gathered in Guadagnoli’s pass in stride at the Assumption 25 yard line and completed his sideline route.

“My adrenaline took over on that play,’’ said Hill.

“I think I got my athleticism from my mom and my height from my dad, Bryan, who is 6-foot-6,’’ said Hill, a standout receiver on Mansfield High’s Division 2 Super Bowl championship team in 2010, captain of the basketball team that advanced to the state semifinals, and the Division 2 triple-jump champ on the school’s state championship outdoor track team.

His mother, Kathy, was the Big East Women’s Basketball Player of the Year in 1984, as a senior at Providence College, where her number is retired.

Bentley head coach Thom Boerman , who calls Hill as “cool as a cucumber with great leaping ability and tremendous hands,” said he is embracing his role as the No. 1 option.

“I don’t know if I’ve ever seen him stressed under pressure. We tell him what to expect in our game plan, and he just smiles and says he’s fine with it.’’

That quality, said Hill, is derived from his mother’s experience on the basketball court.

“She taught me that pressure isn’t a bad thing and that you can turn it into a positive, and so I’m able to tune everything else out in those situations,’’ said Hill, who was the game MVP in the 2010 Super Bowl at Gillette Stadium when he caught two scoring passes.

As a collegian, he has 13 career TD receptions, 11 of which have gone 28 yards or longer.

“I think my height has something to do with that because the corners I go up against are usually shorter, Danny and I have a great connection, and I’ve developed the body control to get better position,’’ said Hill, whose brother, Brendan, a rising junior at Mansfield High, was a Hockomock League all-star last season at tight end and wideout.

Hill envisioned a basketball future until a sixth-grade classmate convinced his mother to let her son give Pop Warner football a try.

He still plays intramural basketball at Bentley.

“Being named a preseason All-American is pretty cool,’’ he said, “I want to live up to that — and more — and be the best receiver I can be.’’

The Falcons’ roster also includes cocaptain Matt Campo, a fifth-year senior defensive end from Dedham (Catholic Memorial); senior Chris Cadigan of Stoughton (Boston College High), a three-year starting center; senior linebacker Nick Romaine (Walpole High); junior offensive linemen Harry King of Hingham (Xaverian) and Alec MacGillivray of Westwood; sophomore backup quarterback Tommy Munro (Norwood High); sophomore safety Craig Hanley (Walpole High); sophomore linebacker Jamie Becker of Hingham (Thayer Academy); and freshman linebacker Adam Leonard (Stoughton High).

Bentley will kick off camp next Sunday.

College showdowns to benefit Weymouth

The fourth annual Lasell College Kick Off Classic, benefiting the Weymouth High soccer program, is scheduled for Aug. 31 and Sept. 1 at the high school, with Lasell taking on Newbury College at noon, followed by the University of Massachusetts Boston vs. Fitchburg State at 2:30 p.m. Sunday’s consolation and championship games will be played at the same times, respectively.

Tickets are $5 and can be obtained from Weymouth High soccer coach Bill McEachern (bmceachern@comcast.net) or at the field.

Lasell head coach Giovanni Pacini is a 1976 Weymouth South High graduate who coached boys’ soccer at Weymouth North High from 1981 to 1985. McEachern played for him at Weymouth North.

Pembroke team cited for sportsmanship

The Pembroke U-12 Select boys’ soccer team received the Sportsmanship Award in its division at this summer’s Massachusetts Tournament of Champions in Lancaster. The team, which captured the Coastal League title by winning three playoff games, advanced to the semifinals of the state tourney, and went 12-4-1 overall.

“It was a special honor,’’ said head coach Dave Gleason. “We knew we had a team with great character. We were told by a tournament official that two referees had spoken specifically about how impressed they were with how the boys carried themselves.’’

Gleason and assistant Andy Goodman have coached the group since last fall. The roster consists of their sons, Trevor Gleason and Sean Goodman, along with Christian Pulselli, Nick Tarantino, Sam Herrmann, Will Wilongovicz, Justin Troia, Michael Hendriksen, Chad Demita, Connor Sullivan, Brandon Murdock, Noel Heeran, David Byrne, and Brian Flaherty.

Rodrigues in line for placekicking honor

Massachusetts Maritime Academy senior Brandon Rodrigues (Brockton High) has been named to the watch list for the 2013 Fred Mitchell Award, presented annually to the nation’s top placekicker who also excels in the community. Rodrigues set the school single-game record with eight conversion points in a 56-32 victory over Fitchburg State on Oct. 13. He is also the academy’s first Capital One Academic All-America honoree in 30 years, and is a Brockton Library Foundation volunteer.

Marvin Pave can be reached at marvin.pave@rcn.com.
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