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Division 7 high school football team previews

Devaun Ford will be back on both sides of the ball for Mashpee.
Devaun Ford will be back on both sides of the ball for Mashpee.(Aram Boghosian for The Boston Globe)

Here is a look at each EMass football team in Division 7 heading into the 2018 season.

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

DIVISION 7 NORTH

Brighton

Coach: Randolph Abraham (7th season). Career: 42-22.

Last year’s record: 6-4.

Strengths: Skill positions.

Concerns: Young offensive line.

Offense: Spread

Playing surface: Artificial turf

Outlook: The Bengals are going to be young and inexperienced after the graduation of a 15-player senior class, led by Quincy Taylor, William Jean and Jerrod Clark, all of whom were league all-stars. And Clark is on scholarship at Coastal Carolina. With senior Patrick Bynoe (5-11, 180) back at quarterback and classmate Tre Jackson Berry (6-3, 280) back on the offensive line, juniors KeSean Rue (5-11, 195) and Kevin Phan could have big seasons. The Bengals will start two freshmen on the offensive line. We are working with young men who are pushing themselves really, really hard and are learning fast, coach Randolph Abraham said. Im confident that we will defend our league title and go for our sixth in a row and were looking good.

Season opener: Friday, Sept. 7, 6:30 p.m., vs. South Boston

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Chelsea

Coach: Rasi Chau (1st season).

Last year’s record: 2-8.

Strengths: Solid line, athletic defense.

Concerns: Inexperience at skill positions.

Offense: Spread

Playing surface: Artificial turf

Outlook: Rasi Chau takes over as head coach after working as a defensive coordinator for the Red Devils. Theyll lean on a fast, athletic defense and a line of upperclassmen to start the season. Senior Tony Falcon will take over as starting QB. Top targets for him will be senior Gabriel Rosado and sophomore Walter Gonzalez. Chau said the senior leadership has been a driving factor for the team, coordinating summer workouts and making sure the team is ready for this campaign. ‘‘I think we’ll be better than last year, said Chau. All the coaches are committed. The players are dedicated.’’

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Season opener: Saturday, Sept. 8, 1 p.m., at Mystic Valley

East Boston

Coach: John Parziale (9th season). Career: 48-36.

Last year’s record: 6-4.

Strengths: Returning players in skill positions.

Concerns: Young offensive/defensive line.

Offense: Multiple

Playing surface: Artificial turf

Outlook: With returning players in the skill positions, coach John Parziale feels he has a competitive group this season. Senior captain Angelo Blake and senior Hector Martinez will split carries at running back after the departure of senior Brandon Ortega (11 TDs). In the trenches, a line of mostly JV players from last season is an area of concern. Parziale said theyre working hard and improving, theyll just have to show it against a tough schedule. ‘‘We expect to do well this season,’’ said Parziale. ‘‘We have to prove it on the field.’’

Season opener: Friday, Sept. 7, 7 p.m., at Lowell Catholic

Georgetown

Coach: Eric McCarthy (4th season). Career: 12-19.

Last year’s record: 5-5.

Strengths: Depth at receiver, passing attack.

Concerns: Size on offensive line.

Offense: Multiple

Playing surface: Artificial turf

Outlook: With a number of weapons on offense, coach Eric McCarthy has expectations that this group can compete. At 6-foot-4, 215 pounds, senior end Hunter Lane will be a prime target after 1,200 receiving yards and 16 TDs last season. McCarthy said hes a Division 1 college prospect. ‘‘Hes a very tough matchup, even when he’s double-teamed, said McCarthy. Junior quarterback Stephen MacDonald takes over under center after scoring seven touchdowns last year. And with senior Carmine Palmisano (running back/linebacker) and wide receivers Cody Mello and Matt Galley, the Royals will look to push for a home playoff game.

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Season opener: Friday, Sept. 7, 6 p.m., at Tech Boston

Greater Lawrence

Coach: Tony Sarkis (13th season). Career: 93-61.

Last year’s record: 8-4.

Strengths: Experienced team.

Concerns: Complacency, depth.

Offense: Spread

Playing surface: Artificial turf

Outlook: The Reggies return a senior team that reached the D7 North semifinal last season. Jose Caseras, a 5-foot-11, 200-pound QB, racking up 1,300 total yards last season, 700 through the air. Senior back Ader Mezidor (5-9, 190) and receiver Donnie Croteau (5-9 180) will help spread the field. Senior Humberfy Contreras (5-10, 220) will be an anchor on the lines. Coach Tony Sarkis said this is a hard-working group that will look to make an impact. I think our potential is unlimited, he said. Every day, we have to strive to get better.

Season opener: Saturday, Sept. 8, 12 p.m., at Swampscott

Latin Academy

Coach: Rocco Zizza (11th season). Career: 65-43.

Last year’s record: 6-5.

Strengths: Experienced line.

Concerns: Depth.

Offense: Power I

Playing surface: Grass

Outlook: The Dragons will rely on a battle-tested line to get the season rolling. Four-year starter Plinio Acosta (5-10, 220 pounds) will anchor the line from the left guard spot, and tackle on defense. Sophomore Zach Maffeo will take over under center. Hes the twin brother of OBryant QB, Luke Maffeo. Coach Rocco Zizza says Zach has a strong arm and great pocket presence. Though theres currently a lack of depth at the skill positions, Maffeo will have an elusive target in senior Ryan Nguyen (5-7, 130). Senior Cedric Johnson will be a go-to running back in the offense.

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

Lowell Catholic

Coach: Jason Houston (4th season). Career: 33-44.

Last year’s record: 5-6.

Strengths: Defense, experience.

Concerns: Depth.

Offense: Multiple

Playing surface: Artificial turf

Outlook: The Crusaders return seven starters on both sides of the ball from a squad that reached the D7 North semifinals last season. The defense will be a focal point: senior linebacker Michael Canney is a fearsome tackler and junior backer Ian Sullivan is coming off a 10-sack season. On offense, junior Ian Nichols ran for 600 yards on 100 carries last season, and figures to be the feature back. Senior quarterback Peter Sawyer, another player who got experience after injuries last season, takes over under center. ‘‘We have one of the better defenses in the league,’’ said coach Jason Houston. ‘‘We may not be as explosive as the past on offense, but well be productive.’’

Season opener: Friday, Sept. 7, 7 p.m., vs. East Boston

Manchester Essex

Coach: Jeff Hutton (4th season). Career: 17-16.

Last year’s record: 6-5.

Strengths: Senior leadership, heart.

Concerns: Lack of players.

Offense: Pistol

Playing surface: Artificial turf

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Outlook: Due to lack of players (20), the Hornets cancelled their first two games of the season and will be unable to qualify for the postseason. The Hornets return two starters, senior offensive linemen Ryan OConnell and Noah Rawson. Senior Bobby Beardsley (RB/S) will provide a boost in the backfield and secondary after missing last season. ‘‘I think the heart that we have is going to be a strength of ours,’’ said coach Jeff Hutton. These kids know every week that we just dont have enough ammo in the gun, but they want to be there. We were on the verge of actually not having a varsity program this year. The kids were like, ‘Coach well play with 15, lets just try it.’ ‘‘

Season opener: Friday, Sept. 21, 7 p.m., at Essex Tech

Mystic Valley

Coach: Danny Kelly (1st season).

Last year’s record: 4-7.

Strengths: Quarterback, running back, offensive line.

Concerns: Secondary.

Offense: Multiple

Playing surface: Artificial turf

Outlook: First-year coach Danny Kelly expects his teams experience and veteran leadership to steer MV in the right direction. The Eagles return six starters on both sides of the ball and at key positions. Senior quarterback Jonah Crane along with Anastasia Bessler (OG/DT) and Raymond Pho (RB/DB) headline the veteran returnees; Kelly believes junior back Haley Tom is in for a breakout season. ‘‘We got a great senior class with a lot of starters coming back from last year and a couple guys who got a great taste of varsity experience senior quarterback, a couple senior running backs, an experienced offensive line, so thats what were going to kind of rely on,’’ Kelly said.

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

Nashoba Valley Tech

Coach: James Creed (3rd season). Career: Career: 10-11.

Last year’s record: 8-5

Strengths: Offensive and defensive line.

Concerns: Inexperience at skill positions.

Offense: Read option

Playing surface: Artificial turf

Outlook: After winning the Division 8 Central title and falling to Lynn Tech in the Vocational Super Bowl last December, Nashoba Valley Tech moves up to D7 North and officially joins the Commonwealth Athletic Conference Small Division. ‘‘It’s a little over our heads,’’ said third-year coach James Creed, ‘‘But sometimes football teaches you to rise to the occasion. We’re a team that should show a lot of growth as the season progresses.’’ With 16 seniors graduating, including two 1,000-yard rushers, Creed has his concerns. But senior Eli Norton, who totaled 664 receiving yards last season and ran for over 200 yards on Thanksgiving, is slotted to take over at quarterback. Nashoba Tech returns four of five starters on the offensive line, including senior captain Liam Shockley and returns both starting cornerbacks in Jose Silva and Aiden Luth.

Season opener: Friday, Sept. 7, 7 p.m., at Lynn Tech

O’Bryant

Coach: Kevin Gadson (11th season). Career: 70-36.

Last year’s record: 5-5.

Strengths: Youth, eagerness to learn.

Concerns: Replacing graduated seniors, lack of experience.

Offense: Spread

Playing surface: Artificial turf

Outlook: Being decimated by graduation has become a yearly occurrence for coach Kevin Gadson. The Tigers return just two starters in senior wide receiver/linebacker Anthony Francis and sophomore quarterback Luke Maffeo. Despite the lack of returnees, Gadson wants to best last seasons 5-5 record. Were young, but were very eager to learn, he said. Most of the JV guys are moving up so we just have a lot of enthusiasm and Im looking forward to a much better season than last year.

Season opener: Friday, Sept. 7, 5 p.m., vs. Boston Latin

St. Mary’s

Coach: Sean Driscoll (1st season). Career: 55-56 (Winthrop for 12 seasons).

Last year’s record: 11-1.

Strengths: Offensive line, defensive line.

Concerns: Skill positions, lack of depth.

Offense: Double wing

Playing surface: Artificial turf

Outlook: After 12 years as the head coach at Winthrop, Sean Driscoll inherits a Spartan program in transition. The loss of dual-threat quarterback Calvin Johnson and backs James Brumfield and Marlon Scott leave a gaping hole at the skill positions. Two-way returning starters Domenic DiCenso (OT/DT), John Maguire (OG/DE) and Patrick Henry (TE/DE) provide a steady presence on the line. I know were going to have some obstacles ahead of us, Driscoll said. Were playing a real tough schedule [and] have a whole new backfield in the skills area so its going to be a challenge, but we want to get a good start going.

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

DIVISION 7 SOUTH

Abington

Coach: James M. Kelliher (45th season). Career: 274-189-10.

Last year’s record: 7-3

Strengths: Returning players.

Concerns: Tough schedule, depth.

Offense: Wing T

Playing surface: Grass

Outlook: Though the Green Wave graduated a talented group of seniors, a healthy number of this year’s roster earned playing time in last year’s march to the South final. Junior Will Klein (5-10, 180) figures to be a dynamic threat in the offense, receiving reps in the slot, at running back, and at safety. Senior Christian LaBossier was solid at quarterback in a scrimmage against Sandwich. Twin brothers Jarib and Jarae Cole will anchor the D line. Defensive back Colin Leary returns, and senior Justin Murphy is a strong two-way threat on the perimeter. ‘‘We have to make sure we get the work done in every single game, then we can look forward to something special afterwards,’’ said coach Jim Kelliher.

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

Archbishop Williams

Coach: Matt Reggiannini (1st season). Career: First year, assistant coach for 14 seasons.

Last year’s record: 6-5

Strengths: Returning starters, offensive line.

Concerns: Depth, younger players at skill positions.

Offense: Pro set

Playing surface: Artificial turf

Outlook: Matt Regiannini takes over as head coach after Bill Kinsherf ended his run at 22 seasons. The Bishops return senior linemen Timothy Downs, Ryan Bellew, Sebastian Joseph and junior Matthew Herrick, but will start sophomores and juniors at the skill positions. Junior quarterback Neil Sanders will move into an expanded role after rushing for 128 yards and passing for 632 more and five TDs last fall. Colton Casper is another well-rounded player that will move into an expanded role. If we are successful, I think it definitely has to be on the backs of our linemen, said Regiannini.

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

Bellingham

Coach: Dan Haddad (4th season). Career: Career: 12-21.

Last year’s record: 4-7

Strengths: Senior leadership.

Concerns: Young defensive secondary, line.

Offense: Wing T

Playing surface: Artificial turf

Outlook: The Blackhawks will feature 12 seniors along with a group of freshmen. At quarterback, senior three-year starter Jimmy Kilduff returns as a dual threat. Senior back Dan Unegbu powers the ground game with outside zone carries. Senior end Jayden Caron and outside linebacker Kenny Morrissey will be key factors on defense. Senior back Evan Laroche could be a factor after missing most of last season. Coach Dan Haddad feels the seniors on the team will have to set the tone. ‘‘If they do, the team will go far,’’ said Haddad.

Season opener: Saturday, Sept. 8, 12 p.m., at Blackstone-Millville/Hopedale

Bourne

Coach: John McIntyre (9th season). Career: 36-61.

Last year’s record: 3-8

Strengths: Senior leadership.

Concerns: Depth.

Offense: Spread

Playing surface: Grass

Outlook: The Canalmen return a seasoned group, many of whom are four-year starters. Senior captains Spencer Rose (receiver), James Cahoon (quarterback), Malcolm Brown (defensive end), Trevor Violette (offensive line), and Jack Neil (tight end/linebacker) have been instrumental in pushing the pace to get Bourne ready for the season. The Canalmen will also implement the spread attack, which will be a good fit for a talented core. ‘‘I think this will be a pretty good season for us. Were looking to improve on last year, said coach John McIntyre. ‘‘We have a lot of dedicated kids that have a selfless, team-first attitude.’’

Season opener: Saturday, Sept. 8, 12 p.m., at Upper Cape

Bristol-Plymouth

Coach: John Parris (12th season). Career: Career: 55-54.

Last year’s record: 7-4

Strengths: Experience throughout.

Concerns: Developing chemistry.

Offense: Pro set

Playing surface: Grass

Outlook: A seasoned group of 17 upperclassmen will look to continue what was a strong finish in 2017. Senior captain Roman Barros was called a strong pocket passer by coach John Parris, but he’ll need a new prime target after the graduation of all-league receiver Nick Powers. Senior Akbar Christmas is the top candidate to fill the role. Senior backs Marcus Pittsley and Jamie Carson, both elusive with catching ability, will split carries. Center Michael Skwarto, a senior captain, and tackle Jacob Harrison will help anchor a solid line. This is one of those groups you look forward to having, said Parris.

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

Carver

Coach: Doug Borsari (1st season).

Last year’s record: 4-7

Strengths: Returning players, combined program.

Concerns: Schedule.

Offense: Multiple

Playing surface: Artificial turf

Outlook: First-year head coach Doug Borsari takes over at Carver, which now is affiliating with Sacred Heart of Kingston for a co-op. The program has 10 seniors, along with a number of new players. Senior captain Trevor Drakakis (Carver) will be the go-to back and classmate Steven Dwyer starts at QB. A senior line of returning starters features captains James Silva (Carver), Cam Stoloski (Sacred Heart) and Dan Sinclair (Sacred Heart).

Season opener: Friday, Sept. 7, 7 p.m., at Coyle & Cassidy

Case

Coach: Anthony Palladino (5th season). Career: Career: 17-38.

Last year’s record: 5-6

Strengths: Offensive line, skill positions.

Concerns: Depth.

Offense: Pro set

Playing surface: Grass

Outlook: After a 5-7 season, Case could be a tough out in D7 this season. The return of a high-powered offense and solid line will be a tough task for opposing teams to contain. Senior Chris Costa (6-0, 175) returns after notching 1,100 all-purpose yards and 15 TDs as a running back/receiver. Junior quarterback Danny Silva will be back under center. Senior captain RB/LB Ty Couto is a key returner, described as the ‘‘heart and soul’’ of the team by coach Anthony Palladino. Senior linemen Isaac Tucker and Noah Casado will anchor the line. ‘‘Our goal is to a physical team that runs the ball and stops the run,’’ said Palladino.

Season opener: Friday, Sept. 7, 7 p.m., vs. Bristol-Plymouth

Cohasset

Coach: Peter Afanasiw (13th season). Career: 88-40.

Last year’s record: 6-5

Strengths: Athleticism, returning players.

Concerns: Offensive line, depth.

Offense: Multiple

Playing surface: Artificial turf

Outlook: The Skippers could be the favorite in the South Shore Tobin League with an experienced group returning this season. Senior quarterback Matt Lund has familiar targets senior receivers Cliff Ward and Mark Mahoney. On defense, senior captain Jackson Fitzgerald returns at defensive end, helping reinforce a solid pass rush and run stop. Junior Tucker Fulton (6-4, 185) is back at defensive back. ‘‘I think we have the potential to challenge Abington and Mashpee for a league title,’’ said head coach Pete Afanasiw. ‘‘This team has a lot of untapped potential.’’

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

Diman

Coach: Steve Winarski (3rd season). Career: 77-24-3 (62-17-3 at Durfee).

Last year’s record: 7-4

Strengths: Experience at skill positions

Concerns: Depth

Offense: Multiple

Playing surface: Grass

Outlook: Coach Steve Winarski feels theres room for improvement after a 7-4 campaign ended with a first-round playoff loss to eventual D7 state champion Mashpee. The Bengals lost two games to Bristol-Plymouth and Shawsheen by 6 total points. Ball security and turnover prevention were emphasized in the preseason. The offense is in good hands with junior quarterback OShaun Brooks, a dual-threat field general who split time under center last season. Hell be flanked in the backfield by senior back Jean Claude King, also an impact outside linebacker on defense. Senior edge rushers Zach Poitras and Lyndon Carreiro will provide valuable speed and athleticism from the outside. The defense should benefit from the improvement of junior middle linebacker Caesar Castro. Staying healthy will be key for the Bengals.

Season opener: Friday, Sept. 7, 7 p.m., vs. West Bridgewater

Mashpee

Coach: Matt Triveri (14th season). Career: 117-33.

Last year’s record: 12-0

Strengths: Key returnees, athleticism.

Concerns: New line, depth.

Offense: Pro set

Playing surface: Grass

Outlook: The three-time defending D7 Super Bowl champions will be on the younger side this season. After the graduation of its all-senior offensive front, the new line is starting to come together. The return of skilled seniors Cam Kergo (corner/receiver), and All-Scholastics Devaun Ford (tailbacksafety) and Xavier Gonsalves (two-way end) will be key on both sides of the ball. After a strong preseason, junior Ian Miller (6-2, 180) has earned the starting positoin at quarterback. ‘‘We have guys who are threats every time they touch the ball,’’ said head coach Matt Triveri. ‘‘We just cant shoot ourselves in the foot at times.’’

Season opener: Friday, Sept. 7, 5 p.m., at Nantucket

Monomoy

Coach: Larry Souza (1st season).

Last year’s record: 7-4

Strengths: Skill positions, senior leadership.

Concerns: Depth, new players.

Offense: Spread

Playing surface: Artificial turf

Outlook: After a 7-4 season that included a ticket to the D7 South playoffs, the Sharks will look to reload with talent at the skill positions. First-year coach Larry Souza takes the helm after three years as an assistant. Senior Isaac Hart at QB and will have some solid targets in senior Chris Hall, along with junior Elijah Beasley in the slot. Sophomore Tyler Potter will be the featured back in the spread attack. Senior captain Kyle Charlot lead Monomoy in tackles last season playing middle linebacker. ‘‘I think this team will be pretty good,’’ said Souza. ‘‘Execution is going to be key.’’

Season opener: Friday, Sept. 7, 6:30 p.m., vs. Cape Cod Tech

Nantucket

Coach: Joe Perry (1st season).

Last year’s record: 9-2

Strengths: Experienced players, defense.

Concerns: New line, new offense.

Offense: Multiple

Playing surface: Grass

Outlook: Despite losing 13 senior starters to graduation, the Whalers will look to reload with a collection of seniors with varsity experience. Four-year assistant and alum Joe Perry (1992) takes over for Brian Ryder, who stepped down after four seasons. Perry is confident in a group that includes junior running backs Torane Burton (10 TDs) and Devonte Usher (16 TDs). A dual threat, junior Darian Duarte takes over under center. Seniors Chance Pollock (6-2, 190), Cam Willett (6-2, 190) and junior Joel MacVicar will be the anchors on the line.

Season opener: Friday, Sept. 7, 5 p.m., vs. Mashpee

Seekonk

Coach: Vernon Crawford (7th season). Career: 34-51 (29-35 at Seekonk).

Last year’s record: 6-5

Strengths: Returning players.

Concerns: Depth.

Offense: Spread

Playing surface: Grass

Outlook: The Warriors reached the Div. 7 playoffs last season, but fell in the first round to Abington. Replacing graduates Terry Smith (25 TD passes) and Shane Smith (12 TD’s) will be a key task. Senior back Brett Mancini and receiver Brian Pires could make an impact.

Season opener: Friday, Sept. 7, 7 p.m., at Bishop Stang

Southeastern

Coach: Dominique Williams (1st season).

Last year’s record: 5-7

Strengths: Veteran leadership.

Concerns: Depth.

Offense: Spread

Playing surface: Artificial turf

Outlook: First-year coach Dominique Williams feels he has a talented group that will continue to improve this season. Guabi Pires, a 6-1, 170-pound senior receiver/safety, received varsity experience last year and will move into an expanded role as both a deep threat and solid tackler. Sophomore James Cordon (5-1, 175) is poised to start at QB with a strong arm after winning the job in camp. At running back is junior Kevin Opoku, a multi-sport athlete with blazing speed according to Williams. ‘‘I think this team can win a lot of games,’’ said Williams, a 2010 Brockton High grad who played collegiate at Boston College, captaining the Eagles as a senior. ‘‘These kids are dedicated and theyre putting in the work.’’

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