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In move to NEPSAC, Austin Prep football has a bit more time to prepare for kickoff

In its transition to the NEPSAC, the Austin Prep football team will not snap a ball in practice until Aug. 30.John Blanding

The coaches and athletes within the Austin Prep football program will have a little extra time to adjust to their new surroundings this fall.

With the private school moving from the ranks of the MIAA, and the Catholic Central League, to the New England Prep School Athletic Council, everything is changing up in Reading. But some things remain the same for veteran coach John Florence and his staff.

“It’s definitely exciting,” said Florence, who was hired at Austin Prep last fall after a 10-year run at Lowell High.

“It’s going to be a challenge, but it’s a good thing for the school, for the program, and it’s going to exposure our kids to a true prep environment.”


In the 2022-23 school year, the majority of the Austin Prep teams will play an independent schedule competing in NEPSAC Class A. The football program is joining the Evergreen league, which includes prep schools throughout New England.

MIAA practices kick off Friday, but Austin Prep will not hand out equipment until Aug 29, with the first practice slated for Aug 30. The Cougars can run up to 22 practices before their first game against visiting Dexter Southfield on Sept. 24.

Florence will prepare his team with a joint practice against Pingree, followed by scrimmages against Independent School League power Governor’s Academy and South Coast Conference contender Dighton-Rehoboth.

“The process [of switching leagues] took a while to stabilize,” said Florence. “We didn’t have all the information on the schedule, or the leagues.”

“We’ve been working out the bugs this first year, so I think next year families will feel more comfortable making the commitment. We just want to show this year that the program is moving in the right direction, and that we’ll be able to compete at this level.”

Sophomore quarterback Dylan Sigsbury is set to start behind an offensive line that includes senior Hunter Weldon and junior Philip D’Alleva, who transferred from Malden Catholic.


Sigsbury, the son of Billerica coach Duane Sigsbury and grandson of legendary Woburn coach Rocky Nelson, has a very high football IQ, per Florence, who adds that the sophomore grew three inches this past year. His primary target will be three-phase standout Lee Poulin.

Aside from Dexter, Austin Prep’s only other game against a Massachusetts school comes at Worcester Academy on Oct 8. The Cougars will also face Kingswood Oxford (Conn.), Greenwich Academy (Conn.), Proctor Academy (N.H.), New Hampton (N.H.), Portsmouth Abbey (R.I.) and Albany Academy (N.Y.).

Florence, a former captain at Lowell (’95) and Bridgewater State (’99), has been an assistant in the public and private ranks, at the Groton School. The veteran said the role of being a coach has changed, but the intentions remain similar.

“Before, I think kids felt like it could be coaches vs. players,” said Florence. “Now I think you have to make sure kids know you care about them more than wins and losses. Those are the things we stress on, first and foremost, and that’s how you build a culture.”


▪ Woburn’s Lucia DiGirolamo and Tewksbury’s Sammy Taber have earned spots on the US Under-18 Women’s Select hockey team that is playing Canada in a three-game series in Calgary that started Wednesday.

DiGirolamo, a Globe All-Scholastic selection as freshman at Woburn High as a freshman in 2020, is now a rising senior at Bishop Kearney Selects Academy in Irondequoit, N.Y.


A rising senior at Cushing Academy, Taber was a Globe Super Teamer as an eighth-grader at Austin Prep in 2018-19. She has committed to attend Boston College.

Wakefield’s Lee-J Mirasolo is an assistant coach for the US U-18 team, and Melissa Piacentini of Weymouth handles video operations.

▪ The Shrewsbury Post 397 baseball team saw its magical run in the American Legion World Series end Monday night with a 5-4 semifinal loss to Idaho Falls in Shelby, NC. Trailing 5-2 in the top of the seventh inning, Shrewsbury cut the deficit with a two-run double from Zachary Amero, but fell short against the two-time national champion.

▪ BB&N senior Ronan Hanafin, a 6-foot-3, 210-pound safety/receiver from Burlington and a top six Class of 2023 recruit in the Bay State, committed to Clemson and coach Dabo Swinney on Sunday . . . Oluwakoleade Osinubi, a speedy 6-2 senior receiver, announced Monday night that he will be transferring from Catholic Memorial to Brockton High to play for his hometown Boxers this fall. And Henry Hasselbeck, the son of former Xaverian, Boston College, and NFL QB Matt Hasselbeck, is on the move from Belmont Hill to his father’s alma mater, Xaverian, where he will be a junior quarterback.

▪ Phillips Andover senior pitcher/first baseman Cole Mascott (Newburyport) committed to Northwestern and classmate Teo Spadaccini, a 6-5 righty, is bound for . . . Newburyport junior righthander Owen Tahnk committed to Harvard . . . Maine added two locals in senior pitcher Patrick Jones (La Salle Academy) and senior infielder Nicholas Ayres (Duxbury). . . Nobles senior righthander Dagen Darnell committed to play at Stonehill . . . Medfield senior catcher Scott Donahue is headed to UMass Lowell . . . ▪ Tabor senior 6-6 forward Joe Nugent has committed to play basketball at Holy Cross . . . Chelmsford boys’ lacrosse senior Liam Martin is headed to Wentworth.


▪ A tip of the cap to Natick High Hall of Famer Casey Brown, who has returned to her second alma mater, Boston University, as the program’s second women’s soccer coach. The head coach at Penn the past two seasons, following a four-year stint at Holy Cross, Brown (’10) replaces her mentor, Nancy Feldman, who retired after a storied 27-year run at the helm of the Terriers.