After a few tough seasons, this year’s varsity football team hopes to find more success on the field through a total team commitment to fundamentals.
“The keys to maximizing our success are the little things,” said co-captain Lucas Mastrodomenico ’20. “We need to be able to execute and for everyone to do their job properly on every single play.”
Thus far, the results have been extremely encouraging, with the Bearcats (1-1) taking perennial power Brunswick deep into the fourth quarter with the game tied, and then recording a dramatic overtime win over Deerfield last weekend.
One of the biggest reasons for the team’s success will be its leadership, said head coach Danny Smith. “Our seniors have been extraordinary thus far. Some kids who last year weren’t as vocal are really pushing each other, holding one another accountable, and extending themselves to the younger kids,” he said.
Many of those players have been through the lean years and emerged with a greater commitment to the team, said Smith. “They are resilient, mentally tough, and they love to compete,” he said. “The results on the scoreboard haven’t always gone in our favor but I do think we’ve played some of our best games against the very best teams over the last year or two.”
Complementing a strong returning core is a crop of talented new players on both sides of the ball. Both Smith and Mastrodomenico gave kudos to new quarterback Ethan Vashell ’21. “Being a new kid, he has found no problem corralling the offense and showing a lot of poise in the pocket,” said Mastrodomenico. “He is unassuming, yet gets the job done on every play.”
To be successful this season, the Bearcats will look for more quick strike plays. Most teams are at a disadvantage when they need to run ten or more plays each drive to find the end zone, so the team will look for chunk yardage whenever possible, said Smith.
Another exciting new player on defense is DE Mike Bright ’20. “He’s big and quick and relentless. When he steps on the field, he’s all business. He’s just fun to watch,” said Smith.
Players like Bright and returner Kimanie Brown ’20 have given the team more speed overall on defense, which opens up the playbook. “You can be a little more aggressive, a little more risky in terms of pressuring the quarterback, knowing that you can cover guys down the field,” said Smith.
Creating a positive team culture will be a point of emphasis for Mastrodomenico and the other two captains, Ryan Sellew ’21 and Bo Zeigler ’20. Thus far, the efforts are paying dividends. “This year we are lucky to have a really good group of guys who are willing to pull in the right direction to win games,” said Mastrodomenico.