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HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL

2017 Prep school football preview

FILE/WINSLOW TOWNSON/FOR THE GLOBE

Coach Paul Zukauskas and his Lawrence Academy football team will kick off the season Saturday against Buckingham Browne & Nichols.

By Globe Staff 

Here is a look at Independent School League football programs, along with NEPSAC schools in Eastern Massachusetts, entering the 2017 season.

BUCKINGHAM BROWNE & NICHOLS

League: ISL

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Coach: Mike Willey (4th season). Career: 16-9.

Last year’s record: 7-2; Class A Bowl winner

Strengths: Leadership, team defense.

Concerns: Overall depth.

Offense: Spread

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Playing surface: Grass

Outlook: Jeff Costello, the two-time Class B Player of the Year, is now making his pitch as a freshman at Northeastern University. But the Knights are geared up for another run in ISL and an ultra-competitive schedule. There are number of new faces in the lineup, starting with Medfield High transfer Ryan Eamer at quarterback. He has a top target in five-year starter Jay Symonds, and sturdy pivot in senior captain Kyle Peck. Devin Marrocco is a shifty back. Captain Mike Bulman anchors the defense in the secondary and ColinLamphier and Symonds, both all-league performers, are back on the line. Senior linebacker Desi O’Mahony is a force.

Season opener: Saturday, Sept. 23, 1:30 p.m., at Lawrence Academy

FILE/JOSH REYNOLDS/FOR THE GLOBE

Mike Piazza (11) pilots the attack for Belmont Hill.

Belmont Hill

League: ISL

Coach: Chris Butler (6th season). Career: 21-20.

Last year’s record: 7-2

Strengths: Experience at the skill positions.

Concerns: Tough schedule; Inexperience on offensive/defensive lines.

Offense: Read option

Playing surface: Artificial turf

Outlook: Off a 7-2 finish, the Hill welcomes its prolific pass-and-catch duo in QB Mike Piazza, a two-year starter, and Duke-bound Jake Bobo (8 TD receptions last fall). Coach Chris Butler has a large senior class and a number of young players battling for spots. Junior Justin O’Neil-Riley is a leader in the defensive back at strong safey; he will also contribute at receiver. Jake Haase is also a two-way threat in the backfield on offense and defense. Back Isaiah Collins is coming off a solid junior campaign. A challenging schedule starts with the opener against Roxbury Latin.

Season opener: Saturday, Sept. 23, 2 p.m., vs. Roxbury Latin

Brooks

League: ISL

Coach: Patrick Foley (5th season). Career: 22-12.

Last year’s record: 7-2

Strengths: Skill positions.

Concerns: Lack of experience on offensive, defensive lines.

Offense: Multiple

Playing surface: Artificial turf

Outlook: Brooks is buoyed by the return of a starting QB for the first time in over a decade: Seamus Lambert, a 6-foot senior, who, along with classmate Chris Capo, both have experience. The pair have an outstanding target in North Andover’s Pat Freiermuth, a 6-4, 225-pound tight end who has verbally committed to Penn State. Receivers Terrell Brown, Connor Breen, Justin Connolly, along with back Jaylen Cromwell are also returning starters. Ben Gill will also compete for snaps in the backfield. The key will be developing depth, and more experience at the line of scrimmage. Seniors Brian Flanagan and Nick Lam, along with juniors Owen Borek and Andrew Iferenta are the top returnees. ‘‘There will be a lot of teams who will have the chance to win the league heading into the last couple of weeks of the season,’’ said coach Patrick Foley.

Season opener: Saturday, Sept. 16, 2:30 p.m., at Roxbury Latin

Dexter Southfield

League: Evergreen

Coach: Casey Day (8th season). Career: 27-30.

Last year’s record: 4-4

Strengths: Overall depth, experience

Concerns: Consistency,

Offense: Multiple

Playing surface: Grass

Outlook: With the return of 19 starters, Dexter Southfield has plenty of experience on both sides of the ball. Linebacker Richard Reid and safety Travis Carpenter anchor the defensive unit. On offense, Luke MacPhail, a 6-foot-4 sophomore, starts at QB. His weapons include junior back Tyrell Wiggins and senior wideouts Liam Kelly and Jake Mello, along with 6-foot-3 tight end Daniel Donato. Center Thomas Gross headlines an experience group on the O line. Dexter Southfield will field one of the largest rosters in the Evergreen League as it makes a bid for a NEPSAC bowl appearance.

Season opener: Saturday, Sept. 23, 3 p.m., vs. Hebron (Maine)

Governor’s Academy

League: ISL

Coach: Jim O’Leary (7th season). Career: 43-9.

Last year’s record: 4-4

Strengths: Senior leadership

Concerns: Depth

Offense: Multiple

Playing surface: Grass

Outlook: The Govs dipped to .500 last fall, but with the return of Jared Dupere (quarterback) and Zach Ludd (running back) in the backfield, along with fellow captains Patrick Flaherty (running back) and Shane Smith (tight end), the attack will be prolific. Camden Gagnon (6-4, 245 pounds), Paul Holloway (6-2, 205), and Kevin Lemieux (6-4, 245) are anchors at the point of attack. Backs Luke Moriarty, Will Murtagh, Trevor Durkin, Tim Roberts, and Quin Stott also return. ‘‘Our league is very competitive, there will be some very talented players we will need to stop throughout the year,’’ said coach Jim O’Leary. ‘‘Any team can win on a given weekend.’’

Season opener: Saturday, Sept. 23, 2 p.m., at Brooks

Groton

League: ISL

Coach: Jamie Lamoureaux (2nd season). Career: 2-5.

Last year’s record: 2-5

Strengths: Experience at skill positions.

Concerns: Inexperienced line.

Offense: Multiple

Playing surface: Grass

Outlook: With a return of all the backs and wide receivers, Lamoureaux enters his second season at the helm optimistic. But with a group of inexperienced linemen on both sides of the ball, there is some concern. ‘‘With an experienced backfield we are hoping that will take some pressure off our inexperienced lineman,’’ said Lamoureaux. Seniors Noah Aaron (WR/DB), Greg Segal (QB/LB) and junior Bennett Smith (RB/LB) look to highlight a talented Groton squad. Look for one of the smallest teams in the ISL with only 35 players to compete if they are all able to stay healthy.

Season opener: Saturday, Sept. 23, 3 p.m., vs. St. George’s

Lawrence Academy

League: ISL

Coach: Paul Zukauskas (7th season). Career: 35-15.

Last year’s record: 6-2

Strengths: Experience on the offensive/defensive lines and skill positions.

Concerns: Depth

Offense: Pro set

Playing surface: Grass

Outlook: Up front, powered by Cam Reddy (6-foot-2, 285 pounds), Ryan Betro (6-4, 290), Cam Walters (6-0, 302), BC-bound Finn Dirstine (6-5, 320) and Donald Long (6-0, 265), the Spartans are tough and physical. Joey Luchetti (6-6, 235) and Thomas Greaney (6-6, 240) are versatile tight ends who will both play college football. New in-coming skill positions look to be dynamic with Justin Barron, Tony Muse and Spencer Arronson helping in both the secondary and at wide receiver. At quarterback, sophomore Brady Martin is an impact player. Junior Peter Bryant, a 6-2, 230-pound fullback/linebacker, is a captain.

Season opener: Saturday, Sept. 23, 1:30 p.m., vs. BB&N

Middlesex

League: ISL

Coach: Joe Lang (22nd season). Career: 85-80-2.

Last year’s record: 0-8

Strengths: Returning backfield.

Concerns: Depth.

Offense: Spread

Playing surface: Grass

Outlook: The Zebras are looking to put last season’s winless campaign behind them as they head into 2017. Coach Joe Lang is looking for a breakout season from QB Derek DeMarzo, who threw for 1,700 yards and 15 TD passes last season. Running back Kabelo Tsotetsi gained a lot of experience last year and is poised to improve in 2017. Captains Owen Henderson, Cormac Duhamel, and Cam Parker will offer leadership and experience.

Season opener: Saturday, Sept. 23, 2:30 p.m., vs. Thayer

Milton Academy

League: ISL

Coach: Kevin MacDonald (22nd season, 113-51-3). Career: 212-92-5.

Last year’s record: 6-2

Strengths: Skill positions.

Concerns: Depth.

Offense: Pro set

Playing surface: Grass

Outlook: Starting QB Alec Beesmer is back for his senior season, with an impressive new target in 6-foot-4, 220-pound tight end Eddie Duggan, a Noble & Greenough transfer from Norwood. Seniors Owen Burke (5-11, 270), Jason Bussgang (6-0, 280), Anthony Gallagher (5-10, 240) and Bryan Hanly (6-0, 270) are returnees in the trenches. Talented back Mike Sylvia is now at Harvard, but sophomores Kalel Mullings and Kyle Santiago, along with seniors and Tim Minot and Tom Urquhart, are returning. Senior tight end/outside linebacker John Minicus is back, along with senior wideout Jailen Branch, fullback/linebacker Jack Czarniak, and receiver/D-back Greg Livingston. ‘‘Depth is a concern, but we hope to contend for a league title,’’ said coach Kevin MacDonald.

Season opener: Saturday, Sept. 23, 1 p.m., at St. Sebastian’s

Nobles

League: ISL

Coach: Rob Murray (1st season). Career: 0-0.

Last year’s record: 4-4

Strengths: Size and experience.

Concerns: New quarterback, better success at home after 2-4 in 2016.

Offense: Multiple

Playing surface: Grass

Outlook: The Bulldogs, under first-year coach Rob Murray, are looking to vie for an ISL title in 2017. The team returns four of its starters on the offensive line along with junior transfer Sam Folse (6-3, 300 pounds). Junior quarterback John Grady is also new to Nobles and will look to spark the Bulldogs’ offense. Senior captain Jason Medeiros provides a speedy option at running back and will be a cog in the Nobles’ secondary.

Season opener: Saturday, Sept. 23, 7 p.m., at Rivers

Phillips Andover

League: None

Coach: Leon Modeste (31st season).

Last year’s record: 3-5

Strengths: Experience

Concerns: Depth

Offense: Multiple

Playing surface: Grass

Outlook: The Big Blue closed last season with three straight wins and then kicked off the ‘17 campaign with a dominant 47-13 victory at Hotchkiss last week. PA scored on its first three drives, the defense registered nine sacks, and a defensive tackle scored the final touchdown. On the Andover sideline since 1987, head coach Leon Modeste believes this could be one of his better squads. His two captains, Adam Cohen, a 6-foot-1, 200-pound middle linebacker and Larson Tolo, a 5-8 outside linebacker/safety, spearhead the defense. Andover also has five post-grad students. ‘‘Regardless of the records and scores, the Big Blue will play together with the character of champions and good sports,’’ said Modeste.

Season opener: Defeated Hotchkiss, 47-13.

Pingree

League: Evergreen

Coach: Chris Powers (13th season, 72-36).

Last year’s record: 4-4

Strengths: Experience, offensive live, defensive front seven

Concerns: Inexperience at defensive back

Offense: Spread

Playing surface: Grass

Outlook: With 18 of 22 starters returning, Pingree is entering the season with a wealth of experience. ‘‘It allows us to progress quicker through preseason as far as installing different offensive schemes and defensive systems,’’ Pingree coach Chris Powers said. ‘‘Last year, we went at a much slower pace as we had a bunch of new guys. This year we feel that we’re able to dig a little deeper into our playbook than we did last year.’’ Junior back Eric Adinkra (5-9, 162 pounds) produced 900 yards rushing last fall. Leading receiver Ricky Arias and QB Patrick Aylmer return, along with all five offensive linemen. On defense, junior middle linebacker Vito Visconti paced the squad is tackles last fall. With the high number of returnees, there is promise for success. But Powers said, ‘‘knowing how difficult the schedule is and how injuries can pop up, they have bought into the whole game-by-game aspect. We want to improve on things we did last year.’’

Season opener: Saturday, Sept. 23, 2 p.m., at Portsmouth Abbey

Rivers

League: ISL

Coach: Tom Bourdeau (3rd season). Career: 3-13.

Last year’s record: 2-6

Strengths: Experience on the offensive line; Quarterback.

Concerns: Size, inexperience at skill positions, and depth.

Offense: Spread

Playing surface: Grass

Outlook: The Red Wings enter the 2017 season with loads of experience on the offensive line and under center. Linemen Ian Brostowski and Tim Lapsley will be team captains and will be key in protecting junior quarterback Andrew Sanderson. After starting the final five games last season, Sanderson is ready to have a big year. On defense, all three starting lineman are back for the new season, including junior tackle Matt Rish who is poised to have a breakout year. A major concern for Rivers is the team’s young core of skill players stepping in as first-year starters.

Season opener: Saturday, Sept. 23, 7 p.m., vs. Nobles

Roxbury Latin

League: ISL

Coach: Orlando Patterson (1st season). Career: 0-0.

Last year’s record: 4-4

Strengths: Experience at quarterback.

Concerns: Depth, low numbers.

Offense: Spread

Playing surface: Grass

Outlook: With eight returning starters, first-year head coach Orlando Patterson is inheriting some experienced players. None have more experience than quarterback Will Greer; the junior is entering his third season as the starter. Offensively, Patterson is sticking with Roxbury’s spread attack, but defensively he plans to switch to a 3-5 front. ‘‘It’s a type of defense where we want to attack and rely on our athletes on the outside to make big plays,’’ Patterson said. ‘‘With the way the league is going, we see a lot of passing and we want to be able to defend the pass.’’ The team finished 4-4 last season and Patterson hopes the Foxes can end this season with a winning record. ‘‘A winning season, staying healthy, and having great experiences throughout the fall are definitely the most important things for our guys,’’ Patterson said.

Season opener: Saturday, Sept. 23, 2 p.m., at Belmont Hill

St. George’s

League: ISL

Coach: John Mackay (21st season, 66-92-3). Career: 106-156-7.

Last year’s record: 7-2; ISL-10 runnerup

Strengths: Experience.

Concerns: Depth.

Offense: Spread

Playing surface: Grass

Outlook: The Dragons’ 2017 squad is determined to maintain the level of success they’ve established the past two seasons, with several strong newcomers and rising stars to go along with the returners. Twenty-two letterman, including nine starters, are back this season from a NEPSAC Bowl squad. Former Dexter quarterback Quinn Cleary transferred to St. George’s in the offseason and will add to the experience on offense as a senior. Senior Tegue Tilo (6-foot, 235 pounds) will be the lead back, one of the top tackling linebackers, and the punter on special teams.

Season opener: Saturday, Sept. 23, 3 p.m., at Groton

St. Mark’s

League: ISL

Coach: Chris Young (5th season). Career: 11-21.

Last year’s record: 3-5

Strengths: Senior leadership.

Concerns: Depth on both lines.

Offense: Spread

Playing surface: Grass

Outlook: This year’s team will rely on the leadership of its senior class. Coach Chris Young believes his team is ‘‘an incredibly hard working and dedicated group of young men with great team chemistry,’’ he said. The offense will be fueled by strong depth at the skill positions, headlined by senior back Laquan McKever, who is looking to build on his second team all-league performance last year. Quarterback C.J. Schumaker will also have a lot of options at wide receiver, including returning starters Neil Swain and Jon Noel. On defense, the Lions will be anchored by junior linebackers Jake Lengal and Tyler Gonsalves. The Lions are hoping for development on the offensive and defensive lines. St. Mark’s will be looking primarily to seniors Tyreese James (6-2, 330 pounds) and Tommy MacNeil to secure the line on both sides of the ball.

Season opener: Saturday, Sept. 23, 2:30 p.m., vs. Tabor.

FILE/JOSH REYNOLDS/FOR THE GLOBE

Northwestern commit Bryce Gallagher (43) is a two-way standout at St. Sebastian’s.

St. Sebastian’s

League: ISL

Coach: Bob Souza (40th season). Career: 174-115-9.

Last year’s record: 3-5

Strengths: Depth, athleticism at skill positions.

Concerns: Inexperience, challenging schedule

Offense: Spread

Playing surface: Artificial turf

Outlook: In his 40th season, coach Bob Souza welcomes back a talented core in the backfield and on the perimeter. The headliner is junior Bryce Gallagher, a 6-foot-3, 205-pound linebacker/fullback from Raynham who verbally committed to Northwestern earlier this week to join his brother, Blake, a Wildcat freshman. Brian Craven and Brendan McKenzie also return in the backfield. UConn recruit Jon Pace (6-5, 250 pounds) is a two-way anchor at tackle and defensive end. Junior Billy Seidl pilots the offense and receivers Alex Cherry (6-4, 210) and Will Frisoli are two of the most explosive players in the ISL. Louis Hansen (6-5, 210) is a big addition on the outside. ‘‘We are young, but expect to be a solid team in a highly-competitive league,’’ said Souza.

Season opener: Saturday, Sept. 23, 1 p.m., vs. Milton Academy

Thayer

League: ISL

Coach: Jeff Toussaint (14th season). Career: 38-66-1.

Last year’s record: 1-7

Strengths: Skill positions, and experience.

Concerns: Depth.

Offense: Spread

Playing surface: Grass

Outlook: The Tigers return an excellent group of players, including nine defensive starters. Staying healthy is the main priority for a squad team that lacks depth. With health, they should contend this fall. Starting QB Cole Roland returns, as do some of his favorite targets, fresh off letter-winning seasons. Wideouts Cole Neelon, Jack Schneider, and Max Wagner, along with tight end Sebastian McMillan, make up a talented and experienced receiving corps. In the backfield, Kevin Deree captain Max Storch, and Colin Plante are the three main options.

Season opener: Saturday, Sept. 23, 2:30 p.m., at Middlesex


Craig Larson can be reached at craig.larson@globe.com