fb-pixel

Division 2 high school football team previews

King Philip celebrated after winning the Super Bowl last season.
King Philip celebrated after winning the Super Bowl last season. (John Tlumacki/Globe Staff file)

Here is a look at each EMass football team in Division 2 heading into the 2018 season.

View other divisions: D1 | D2 | D3 | D4 | D5 | D6 | D7 | D8

DIVISION 2 NORTH

Cambridge

Coach: Roy Howard (2nd season). Career: 1-10.

Last year’s record: 1-10

Strengths: Experience.

Concerns: Depth.

Offense: Spread

Playing surface: Artificial turf

Outlook: After a bumpy first season at the helm for Roy Howard, a group of talented skill players look to right the ship for the Falcons. The return of senior WRs Tariq Lucona, Troy Nickens, and Nelton Dormevil give Cambridge a chance to improve under Howard. Five of the Falcons’ 10 losses last season were by 10 points or less, and Cambridge lost its first three games by a total of 10 points all together. With a bit more experience under the belt, a change of fortune could be in store.

Season opener: Friday, Sept. 7, 7 p.m., vs. Arlington

Advertisement



Chelmsford

Coach: Dave Kaizer (3rd season). Career: 9-13.

Last year’s record: 5-6.

Strengths: Size up front, work ethic, speed at skill positions.

Concerns: Depth, inexperience.

Offense: Read option

Playing surface: Artificial turf

Outlook: The Lions are ready to get the season rolling. Coach David Kaizer credits the team for putting in an excellent preseason, and bringing energy to practice every day. In the past two years the program has taken steps in the right direction and this year they could take another step in a competitive MVC. The loss of last year’s Division 2 leading scorer, Sal Lupoli, puts a void on the offensive side of the ball for Chelmsford, but senior RBs Andrew Shore and Mike Vecchione have explosive talent in them as well. Senior TE Peter Caruso and senior WR Brian Mitchel should provide offense for the Lions as well.

Advertisement



Season opener: Friday, Sept. 7, 7 p.m., vs. Acton-Boxborough

Lincoln-Sudbury

Coach: Tom Lopez (41st season). Career: 294-124-5 (41st season).

Last year’s record: 11-1

Strengths: Seniors, leadership, size upfront on both sides of ball.

Concerns: Five new faces on defense.

Offense: Multiple

Playing surface: Artificial turf

Outlook: Now firmly in his fourth decade at the helm of the Warriors’ football program, Tom Lopez will look to finish on top of Division 2 after getting so close last season, losing 10-7 to King Philip at Gillette. An 11-1 finish and a Super Bowl berth was a great accomplishment, but L-S has another ending planned this year. With a strong returning core of seniors led by RB/LB James Dillon and OL Mike Ciaffoni, Lopez feels his team can compete with anybody in Division 2. But first, the Warriors’ eyes are set on another Dual County title.

Season opener: Friday, Sept. 7, 7 p.m., vs. Springfield Central

Masconomet

Coach: Gavin Monagle (4th season). Career: 76-70 (17-16 at Masco).

Last year’s record: 7-4

Strengths: Senior class.

Concerns: Lack of experience on offense.

Offense: Spread

Playing surface: Grass

Outlook: A strong senior class beginning with FB/LB Jay Theriault and DE Nick Mangino has the Chieftains looking to go further into the Division 2 North tournament than in 2017. After a first-round victory over Woburn, Masco ran into a Lincoln-Sudbury team that would go on to the Super Bowl. In order to improve, Monagle is asking his kids to give their very best effort every day. If this goal is met the Chieftains could be in the mix in the Cape Ann League and be in prime position to make a run in the playoffs. Junior SE/DE Pat Corcoran will be a big part of this process as well.

Advertisement



Season opener: Friday, Sept. 7, 7 p.m., at Danvers

Medford

Coach: Jason Nascimento (7th season). Career: 10-45.

Last year’s record: 1-10

Strengths: Experience.

Concerns: Tackling.

Offense: Spread

Playing surface: Artificial turf

Outlook: Returning a strong core of players from last year’s squad, the Mustangs are looking to bounce back. In order to achieve this, Jason Nascimento and his team will rely heavily on their experience and the play of five senior captains. WR/RB Matt Aredes provided a spark offensively for Medford last season and quarterback Keith Barrasso will do what he can to find him anywhere on the field. Up front on both sides of the ball, 6-5, 300-pound Tevin Cadet will anchor the line along with Gerry Pellegrini and Anderson Larosiliere. ‘‘We are excited and fortunate to work with a great group of kids that have bought in and want to go to work every week,’’ said Nascimento.

Season opener: Friday, Sept. 7, 6 p.m., vs. Lynn Classical

Newton South

Coach: Ted Dalicandro (13th season). Career: 46-91 (13th season).

Last year’s record: 6-5

Strengths: Senior leadership, running back/wide receiver.

Concerns: Quarterback and depth.

Offense: Spread

Playing surface: Artificial turf

Outlook: A bounce back year for the Lions after going 2-9 in 2016 has Ted Dalicandro and his squad looking to build off that success. ‘‘Our goal is get better every day and to compete at a high level every game,’’ said Dalicandro. In order to accomplish this, the Lions will lean heavily on the play of seniors RB/LB Aidan Lopci, OL/DL Brandon Bailey, OL/DL Xavier Deloney-Phillips, OL/DE Ethan Weiss, and juniors WR/S Jylun Spence and RB/CB Raekwan Washington.

Advertisement



Season opener: Friday, Sept. 7, 7 p.m., at Winchester

North Andover

Coach: John Dubzinski (4th season). Career: 42-35 (19-14 at NA).

Last year’s record: 9-2

Strengths: Skill positions and experience.

Concerns: Defensive line.

Offense: Multiple

Playing surface: Artificial turf

Outlook: With skill at key positions, the Scarlet Knights might have the best chance of upsetting defending D2 North champ Lincoln-Sudbury. Senior QB Jake McElroy was the 2017 MVC Offensive Player of the Year, throwing for 1,843 yards and 10 TDs while rushing for 581 yards and 11 scores. Classmate RB Darren Watson is coming off a 1,300-yard season that included 13 touchdowns. Gabe DeSouza, K/WR, could be in for another All-Scholastic season and provides firepower for the Scarlet Knights offensively. John Dubzinkski credits DeSouza’s success in other sports such as basketball and baseball as something that can help push the program to another level, and maybe challenge L-S.

Season opener: Friday, Sept. 7, 7 p.m., at Woburn

Peabody

Coach: Marc Bettencourt (6th season). Career: 28-27.

Last year’s record: 6-5.

Strengths: Experience at skill positions.

Concerns: Overall depth.

Advertisement



Offense: Multiple

Playing surface: Artificial turf

Outlook: The Tanners havent achieved a seven-win season since 2004, and came ever so close at finally hitting that mark last year. QB Matt Jandrisevits should give Peabody some versatility on offense and RB Angel Paulino will be one of the players to watch in Division 2 and the Northeastern Conference. A strong and veteran offensive line will also allow Jandrisevits and Paulino to make plays. But having their most difficult games away from home against some of the best opponents in the NEC, Danvers, Beverly, and Marblehead, the Tanners are going to need to rely on their experience to help them to that seven win mark.

Season opener: Friday, Sept. 7, 7 p.m., vs. Somerville

Reading

Coach: John Fiore (15th season). Career: 114-47.

Last year’s record: 3-8

Strengths: Experience and attitude.

Concerns: Depth.

Offense: Multiple

Playing surface: Artificial turf

Outlook: The Rockets first losing season since 2007 was the result in part of injuries too numerous to mention that forced young players into big roles. John Fiore and his crew will look to use their experience to bounce back from that 3-8 season. But what concerns the Rockets is their depth and if more injuries come along it could be detrimental to the team’s success. ‘‘Honestly, totally just focused on week 1 against Wakefield,’’ said Fiore. ‘‘We are trying to detail our work [and] identify stuff we can improve on each and every day. We are in that position right now.’’ Seniors WR/S Pat Conroy and WR/CB Jake D’Agostino will look to create offense at the wideout position and seal down the secondary.

Season opener: Friday, Sept. 7, 7 p.m., at Wakefield

Waltham

Coach: John Bourque (8th season). Career: 36-37.

Last year’s record: 4-7

Strengths: Strong underclassmen.

Concerns: Inexperience.

Offense: Spread

Playing surface: Grass

Outlook: The Hawks will be looking to a new generation of talent to take the reigns and take the next step. A veteran group of 13 seniors along with 20 juniors will hopefully give the young Hawks what they need to improve. A few of these key underclassmen is 5-foot-10 sophomore RB Carl-Heinz Renaudin and sophomore WR Jordan Johnson. Waltham opens up the season on the road at Newton North with the hope to challenge in the Dual County League.

Season opener: Saturday, Sept. 8, 1 p.m., at Newton North

Westford

Coach: Pat Gendron (2nd season). Career: 3-8.

Last year’s record: 3-8.

Strengths: Team culture.

Concerns: Depth.

Offense: Spread

Playing surface: Artificial turf

Outlook: The Grey Ghosts failed to reach their preseason goals in 2017, which brings a new set of objectives for Pat Gendron and his team in his second year. The 2018 goal is simple: get one percent better every day, and from there chase down a Dual County League title. Senior captains QB Cam Barisano, LB/RB Nick Antes, and LB/RB Tyler Bella will help lead the team, especially on offense where the Grey Ghosts averaged just 11.7 ppg. One positive from the 3-8 season last fall was a 3-2 mark at home.

Season opener: Friday, Sept. 7, 7 p.m., vs. Dracut

Woburn

Coach: Jack Belcher (2nd season). Career: 84-65 (7-4 at Woburn).

Last year’s record: 7-4.

Strengths: Experience and DBs.

Concerns: Inexperience for new starters.

Offense: Spread

Playing surface: Artificial turf

Outlook: After a successful first season with the Tanners, Belcher is looking to take that next step in Division 2 North. The return of four-year starting QB Ryan Qualey and other key players on both sides of the ball brings optimism to the program. Qualey threw for 1,025 yards and 13 touchdowns last season, and stands five touchdowns away from tying Dan McLaughlin’s school record of 28. With senior Tyler Parrish on the outside, the 6-foot-3 Qualey has a great shot of surpassing this milestone. Parrish had 21 catches in 2017 with six touchdowns at the split end position. With seniors Peter Cole and Pat Allen, along with junior Nick Coviello on the offensive line, Qualey should have the adequate protection needed to make plays down field. Belcher is optimistic about this team, and believes there is a great mix of younger players with the returning starters.

Season opener: Friday, Sept. 7, 7 p.m., vs. North Andover

DIVISION 2 SOUTH

Barnstable

Coach: Ross Jatkola (1st season).

Last year’s record: 3-8

Strengths: Depth and experience.

Concerns: Difficult schedule.

Offense: Spread

Playing surface: Artificial turf

Outlook: In his first year in charge of the Red Raiders, Ross Jatkola has plenty of senior experience to help ease the transition. Returning senior QB and captain, Matt Petercuskie, is coming off a season where he set school records in pass attempts (326) and pass completions (196). Senior WR Trevor Blaze and junior tight end Colby Burke along with junior WR Drew Valentine will give Jatkola and Petercuskie plenty of options offensively. The Red Raiders will open up the season at home against Jatkola’s alma mater Dennis-Yarmouth (Sept. 7) before traveling to Braintree (Sept. 15). A challenging start for sure.

Season opener: Friday, Sept. 7, 6 p.m., vs. Dennis-Yarmouth

Braintree

Coach: Brian Chamberlain (8th season). Career: 34-42.

Last year’s record: 7-3

Strengths: Skill positions and size/strength on lines.

Concerns: Depth.

Offense: Multiple

Playing surface: Artificial turf

Outlook: In his eighth season in charge of the Wamps, Brian Chamberlain feels like this could be the season the program takes the next step. Senior RB/LB Billy Silvia, who finished second in Division 2 in scoring last season is described by Chamberlain as a ‘‘ball hawk.’’ Silvia highlights a group of returning tailbacks that includes powerful runner and blocker Noah Brooks. Senior OL/DT Matt Doyle is a physical presence on both sides of the ball who will have a huge impact for Braintree.

Season opener: Friday, Sept. 7, 7 p.m., at Quincy

Bridgewater-Raynham

Coach: Dan Buron (26th season). Career: 194-79-2.

Last year’s record: 9-2.

Strengths: Skill positions.

Concerns: Inexperience.

Offense: Multiple

Playing surface: Artificial turf

Outlook: The graduation of 25 seniors from last year’s team will have Dan Buron - in his 26th year - relying on young players to take up the slack. Sophomore Anthony Morrison and freshman Austin Hartsell have been battling things out in camp for the starting quarterback position, and whoever is the starter will have a key target in senior tight end Jeff Ciccio. The lines on both sides of the ball will be led by returning starters Nolan Anderson, Matt Cady, and Tim Brennan. Defensively, B-R has a returning veterans in CB Nico Carruci and S Kyle Duggan.

Season opener: Thursday, Sept. 6, 7 p.m., vs. Duxbury

Durfee

Coach: Taylor Brown (5th season). Career: 15-28.

Last year’s record: 2-8.

Strengths: Experience at skill positions and returning seniors.

Concerns: Depth.

Offense: Multiple

Playing surface: Artificial turf

Outlook: The three goals set for the Hilltoppers this season are simple: 1. Win the Big 3 Conference. 2. Make the MIAA playoffs. 3. Finish with a winning record. In his fifth season In Fall River, Taylor Brown will look to focus on the ‘‘little things’’ with the team on daily basis to help them achieve these goals. ‘‘This camp has been the best camp we have had up to this point since our staff has been here,’’ said Brown. This has made expectations rise at Durfee, and a winning record, and more, could be on the horizon for the Hilltoppers.

Season opener: Friday, Sept. 7, 7 p.m., at Somerset Berkley

King Philip

Coach: Brian Lee (14th season). Career: 88-14.

Last year’s record: 12-0.

Strengths: Defense.

Concerns: Inexperience.

Offense: Multiple

Playing surface: Artificial turf

Outlook: The Warriors come into the 2018 season as back-to-back state champions and riding the longest winning streak in the state at 25 games. During this historic run for Brian Lee and the King Philip program, defense has been what defined them. Returning zero starters on offense from last year’s D2 Super Bowl winning team, it is defense again that will have to lead the Warriors to another Hockomock title, and possibly another trip to Gillette. In order for this to happen, the defense will lean on senior LB Jack Webster. Webster had the strip sack that led to the game-winning field goal in the D2 title game against L-S last December, and accumulated 46 tackles, 6 sacks, and 2 interceptions during the year.

Season opener: Friday, Sept. 7, 7 p.m., at North Attleborough

Mansfield

Coach: Mike Redding (31st season). Career: 244-83-3.

Last year’s record: 8-3.

Strengths: Depth, experience at skill positions on both sides of the ball, speed, and work ethic.

Concerns: Inexperience and size of lineman.

Offense: Spread

Playing surface: Artificial turf

Outlook: The Hornets return a talented core at the skill positions. Junior Vinnie Holmes lines up at running back and linebacker after breaking the school record for tackles in a season last year. Classmate Nick Marciano, whos father played at BC, will line up next to him on offense and defense. Three-year starter and senior Khristian Conner brings excellent speed to the table. Expect a lot of long kicks from junior Mike DeBolt as well. Early season matchups up against BC High and Everett poses a tough task for Redding and his squad, but after those the team will set its sights to win the Hockomock title, beginning with Franklin on Sept. 21.

Season opener: Friday, Sept. 7, 7 p.m., at BC High

Marshfield

Coach: Chris Arouca (1st season). Career: 19-14 at Hingham.

Last year’s record: 6-4.

Strengths: Defense.

Concerns: Inexperience.

Offense: Multiple

Playing surface: Artificial turf

Outlook: After 37 years, the Marshfield program will have a new face on the sidelines. Chris Arouca returns to his alma mater after three seasons with Hingham and will succeed the legendary coach. ‘‘I try not to think about it,’’ said Arouca. ‘‘[Silva] was such an accomplished coach and I would be a failure if I tried to do that.’’ Arouca will have his hands full though, with a young and inexperienced group of juniors and seniors. No starters are returning on offense for the Rams while only three are coming back on defense. One of these key players on defense is senior linebacker Braden Killens.

Season opener: Friday, Sept. 7, 7 p.m., at Whitman-Hanson

Natick

Coach: Mark Mortarelli (9th season). Career: 66-23.

Last year’s record: 9-1

Strengths: Size on both lines.

Concerns: Inexperience.

Offense: Multiple

Playing surface: Artificial turf

Outlook: The RedHawks lost an incredible senior class after a 9-1 season, and as Mark Mortarelli said in the preseason, will be playing young kids at key spots. One of these important underclassman will be 6-foot-2, 305 pound two-way lineman Josh Atwood. Mortarelli believes Atwood should be one of the best around, and Natick will lean on him. RB/DB Gio DeJesus, WR Max Ferrucci, DB Colin Ghilani, and LB Hunter Ferrera will also play a crucial part in any 2018 success. ‘‘[Our goal is] to compete every game and have a team that is disciplined and can play through adversity.’’

Season opener: Friday, Sept. 7, 7 p.m., at Needham

New Bedford

Coach: Mark DeBrito (5th season). Career: 16-28.

Last year’s record: 3-8.

Strengths: Experience and depth.

Concerns: Staying healthy.

Offense: Spread

Playing surface: Grass

Outlook: The Whalers’ 2017 record doesn’t tell the whole story. Five of New Bedford’s eight losses were by less than five points, and with a senior led squad this year Mark DeBrito hopes that the learning curve can translate into success. ‘‘They have been through it all,’’ said DeBrito. Sixteen of the seniors started two years ago for the Whalers. QB Tru Williams, WR Baron Hillian, DL Anthony Soares, and CB Jeremy DaCruz all return and should have a strong seasons. Senior RB Latrel Canto joins the team after coming over from Durfee to hopefully give New Bedford a bit more firepower offensively.

Season opener: Friday, Sept. 7, 7 p.m., vs. Taunton

Quincy

Coach: Kevin Carey (1st season).

Last year’s record: 2-9.

Strengths: Experience at offensive line.

Concerns: Explosiveness.

Offense: Spread

Playing surface: Artificial turf

Outlook: Kevin Carey enters his first season hoping the Presidents are mentally and physically prepared to be competitive this season. Quincy will rely heavily on its experience at the offensive line behind three-year starters Pat Nazzaro, Jaylen Varela, Mark McKenna, and Zach Carson. These four will hopefully open up holes for underclassmen Thomas Le and Isaiah Steinberg in the backfield, to give the Presidents the explosiveness they seek offensively.

Season opener: Friday, Sept. 7, 7 p.m., vs. Braintree

Wellesley

Coach: Jesse Davis (7th season). Career: 41-26.

Last year’s record: 6-5.

Strengths: Depth and experience at skill positions.

Concerns: Size on offensive line and staying healthy.

Offense: Spread

Playing surface: Artificial turf

Outlook: The loss of a Quarterback such as Jack Tishman would have most programs frantically searching for a new play caller, but Jesse Davis and the Raiders have options. Junior Matt Maiona stepped up for the Raiders last season when Tishman went down - leading his squad to a 23-20 Thanksgiving win over Needham. Maiona finds himself in a battle with senior Malik Sinclair for that quarterback spot. If the Raiders are able to stay healthy and not be ravaged by injuries like they were a year ago, it could be a successful season in Division 2 and the Bay State Conference. Senior WR/S Hugh Callahan and junior WR/CB Chris Althoff will provide explosiveness for Wellesley on both sides of the ball.

Season opener: Saturday, Sept. 8, 1 p.m., vs. East Bridgewater