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Forever a Bulldog: How Joenel Aguero got from East Lynn Pop Warner to the University of Georgia

Joenel Aguero, a rising senior safety at St. John's Prep, recently announced his commitment to play at Georgia.Courtesy

Joel Aguero is all smiles when asked how many of his son’s football games he’ll attend this fall.

“Every single one,” he replies.

Last fall, Joel’s oldest son, Joenel, was suiting up in Bradenton, Fla., some 1,400 miles away from the family home in Lynn.

A five-star recruit considered the No. 2 safety in the Class of 2023 by both ESPN and 247Sports, Aguero was a 6-foot, 195-pound, hard-hitting, ball-hawking junior safety for IMG Academy, playing in front of top scouts.

Aguero had left for IMG midway through his sophomore year to further his development and face top competition. But his parents were able to attend only three games.


“I wanted to come back home and play my senior season in front of my family,” Aguero said after announcing his commitment to the University of Georgia Saturday. He broadcast the news live on CBS Sports from the wellness center at St. John’s Prep, where he started six games as a freshman in a 2019 season truncated by an ankle injury.

“If he wasn’t our best defensive player, he was 1A,” said St. John’s Prep coach Brian St. Pierre, a former Boston College quarterback who spent eight years in the NFL. “He’s just an impact guy. He finds the ball, and when he gets there, he usually arrives in a pretty violent manner.”

Joenel Aguero and his parents are all smiles after he announced his commitment to play football at Georgia.Brendan Kurie

St. Pierre first met Aguero as an eighth-grader at his youth camp.

“He would have been one of the best players on my varsity team,” St. Pierre said. “He was that good.”

Before making his announcement Saturday, Joenel addressed the crowd. He talked about his father leaving the house at 5 a.m. for his job transporting heavy machinery for Sunbelt Rentals, yet summoning the energy to run drills in the afternoon.

“Seeing my dad come home from work, he’s tired, but we have to go out in the hot sun,” Aguero said later. “It’s 90 degrees outside and he’s helping me do my drills.”


With his love of family and a little homesickness for Lynn weighing on him, Aguero declared on Nov. 9, 2021 — days before IMG’s season finale — that he was returning to St. John’s Prep for his senior season.

Joenel Aguero dons a University of Georgia hat on Saturday as he announced his college commitment live on CBS Sports from St. John's Prep. Aguero played for the Eagles as a freshman before transferring to IMG Academy in Florida. This fall he'll be back at St. John's Prep for his senior season.Brendan Kurie

Now he will finish his high school career in Danvers, a dozen miles from where he donned his first football jersey as an 8-year-old with the East Lynn Bulldogs.

“He was a bullet,” Joel said. “You could tell he was going to have a lot of success in the sport because of his athleticism, his speed, his agility.”

“I remember him saying he was going to be a football player and that he wants to go to the next level,” said his mother, Angela. “We would watch every college game on TV and he would say, ‘I want to go to this school.’ Boom, eighth grade, all those schools started coming [to him], one by one.”

While Angela was rooting for Alabama, Aguero immediately felt at home with Kirby Smart’s Bulldogs.

“The first day he went to Georgia, he called us and said, ‘Mom, wait until you come here,’ ” Angela said.

But Aguero stayed patient, taking official visits to Florida, Miami, and Ohio State.

On Sunday morning, a day after his announcement and a decade after he first tugged on an East Lynn Bulldogs helmet, Aguero tweeted, “Woke up a Dawg today.”


Ducharme making waves

Milton’s Reid Ducharme, a rising senior who started his high school basketball career at Noble and Greenough before transferring to Brewster Academy in Wolfeboro, N.H., put on a show at Nike Peach Jam for BABC.

The 6-foot-6-inch forward set an EYBL season high with 42 points on July 18, hitting 15 of 25 shots, including 6 of 11 from deep. He followed up with 28 points — 23 in the first half — and six 3-pointers the next day. For the tournament, he connected on 41.2 percent of his 3-point attempts.

Ducharme has taken official visits with Xavier, Syracuse, and Penn State and is currently ranked the No. 98 Class of 2023 prospect nationwide (No. 5 in Massachusetts) by 247Sports.

Ducharme’s older sister, Caroline, is entering her sophomore season at Connecticut after winning two Massachusetts Gatorade Player of the Year awards at Nobles. His oldest sister, Ashley, played at Brown.


Henry DiGiorgio, a rising junior shortstop at Franklin, announced his commitment to Northeastern … Foxboro junior third baseman Sean O’Leary, a Globe All-Scholastic, announced he’s headed to UMass Lowell … Taunton rising senior shortstop/third baseman Braden Sullivan has committed to UMass Amherst … Jack Crowley, a 6-3, 230-pound defensive end at Milton Academy, announced he will play football at Harvard … Springfield Central rising senior Jayden Bass, a 6-5, 295-pound tackle/guard, committed to Syracuse … Brooks School rising senior Alex Dixon, who previously committed to Utah, now plans to play lacrosse at Ohio State.


Henry DiGiorgio is headed for Northeastern.Jonathan Wiggs/Globe Staff

Jimmy Marini, a 6-1, 275-pound guard/tackle from Lynnfield, announced he will transfer to BB&N and reclassify as a junior … Beverly catcher/shortstop Bradley McCafferty announced he is transferring to Austin Prep and reclassifying as a freshman … Concord-Carlisle catcher Byron Woodman is also headed to Austin Prep and will reclassify as a junior.

Reagan O’Brien, who graduated from Boston Latin this spring, was honored with the prestigious Jackie Pitts Award, presented by USA Lacrosse … Five Massachusetts players were selected to the United Soccer Coaches High School Scholar All-American team: Dexter Southfield’s Mallory Lucas, Masconomet’s Sam Brockelman, Wakefield’s Ashlee Purcell, and Algonquin’s Charles Hynes and Caroline Kelly … Uxbridge rising sophomore Charlie Criscola was named the MVP Pitcher of the Perfect Game New England World Series after striking out 13 and allowing one run and four hits in a complete-game performance.

Johanna Annunziata will be the new girls’ basketball coach at Middlesex School. Annunziata previously coached David Prouty High and was an assistant at Framingham State and Nipmuc … Curt Colarullo will take over the boys’ hockey program at his alma mater, Arlington Catholic. Colarullo, who won a Super 8 title as a senior in 1997, coached Lexington and Concord-Carlisle after serving as an assistant at Acton-Boxboro.

▪ Weston’s John Monz was selected as the US Track & Field and Cross-Country Coaches Association’s girls’ high school Coach of the Year after leading the Wildcats to a Division 5 title in his 44th year coaching. Newton North coach Shawn Wallace received boys’ Coach of the Year honors after the Tigers won Division 1 indoor and outdoor state championships.


John Monz was selected as the US Track & Field and Cross-Country Coaches Association’s girls’ high school Coach of the Year.Lane Turner

▪ Legendary Masconomet boys’ soccer coach Lenny Emmons died July 18. Emmons won 576 games with the Chieftains over 39 seasons, retiring in 2011 as the third-winningest coach in state history. He led Masco to the 1996 Division 2 state championship and captured 28 Cape Ann League titles and five sectional crowns.

▪ Methuen beat Barnstable for the Open football championship while Lynnfield topped Lowell Catholic in the Small bracket in the Northeast 7v7 East regional on Saturday. The New England championships — featuring regional winners BB&N, Billerica, Milton, Dedham, Methuen, Lynnfield and four wild cards: Barnstable, Westford, Lowell Catholic and Dexter Southfield — will be held from 4-9 p.m. on Thursday at Bishop Fenwick.

▪ A Shot for Life will hold boys’ and girls’ all-star basketball games Aug. 2 at Rivers. The girls will start at 6 p.m. before the boys tip at 7:50. The 10th ASFL Challenge, which crowns “The Best Shooter in Massachusetts,” will be Aug. 7 at the Starland Sportsplex in Hanover. ASFL also announced it will introduce a Pitcher’s Challenge this year, Sept. 3 at Austin Prep alongside the third annual Home Run Derby.

Brendan Kurie can be reached at