The preseason is over. The days of fundamental drills and scrimmages are as much of a memory as summer trips to the beach.
It’s time for teams to put their offseason work to the test.
It’s finally Week One.
Kicking off the 2013 season is a clash between a pair of red-hot programs, as defending Division 4 Super Bowl champion Abington travels to No. 8 Duxbury Friday for a 7 p.m. matchup.
The Green Wave are fresh off a 13-0 campaign in 2012, capped by a 14-8 victory over St. Mary’s.
But the Dragons have some history brewing of their own. Over its last 38 games, Duxbury is 37-1, with the only blemish coming in last year’s semifinal round in the playoffs, a 23-19 loss to Mansfield. And the Dragons are in the midst of a 42-game regular-season winning streak.
Neither side is dwelling on past successes.
“We want to be 1-0, that’s it,” Duxbury coach Dave Maimaron said. “That’s our whole goal heading into the season every year.”
Abington coach Jim Kelliher knows last year’s squad was a special group, but he’s eager to see what kind of path the Green Wave takes in 2013.
“I’m very happy for what my kids have accomplished over the years and certainly last year because not too many teams can ever boast an unblemished record,” Kelliher said. “But that was last year, and that was a group of kids that we were happy to have. But this is a new year with another different group of kids and we want to try to give these guys . . . an opportunity to succeed.”
The battle inside the trenches will be a power struggle. Abington boasts an imposing defensive front — a unit Maimaron called “excellent” — of seniors Steve Manning, Matt Whalen, Jonny Aprile and Jake Quinlan. Duxbury will try to neutralize the Green Wave front with four of five returning starters on the offensive line, seniors Grant Kramer, Jack Herlihy and Ricky Lippard, and junior Matt Boyle in front of senior quarterback Sean McCarthy.
Kelliher said he won’t let his defensive line sit back and allow Duxbury to feel relaxed. He plans on mixing in different looks.
“You don’t want them to get comfortable,” Kelliher said. “You want them to work for whatever they’re going to get and just not let them think they can come out and do the same thing each and every play.”
As both sides prepare, Maimaron and Kelliher are just happy to have an opponent to prepare for rather than the long, grueling days of August.
“It’s exciting for all the coaches and the players. There’s definitely a different feel to the week,” Maimaron said. “You miss it all year long, you’re glad to have it back, to be able to get out there Friday and compete. I think we’re all looking forward to that opportunity.”
Kelliher is just happy the days of practicing every day are behind them.
“Practices for a game are a hell of a lot better than practices in the preseason,” he said. “Practices in the preseason are like a drudgery.”
. . .
Elsewhere this weekend, top-ranked St. John’s Prep hosts No. 11 Bridgewater-Raynham Saturday at 1:30 p.m. The Trojans will try to erase the painful memories of last year’s 5-6 mark as they try to contend with No. 7 Barnstable for the Old Colony title.
Walpole has no easy start to the season either as the No. 9 Rebels travel to Foxboro Friday at 7 p.m. The schools are separated by fewer than seven miles and the Warriors look like a contender out in the Hockomock Davenport. East and West powerhouses collide Friday when No. 2 Everett hosts Springfield Central for a 7 p.m. kickoff. And Saturday night at 7, No. 14 Needham travels to Westwood.