Labor Day is supposed to be a day off for the majority of Americans. It’s time for one last cookout, or trip to the beach. For students and teachers in Falmouth, it marked the final day of the summer.
It wasn’t a day off for the coaches of the Falmouth High School football team. After a couple of hours on the field with the players, the new-look staff was in its little office below the Gus Canty Community Center looking like the students that would be back in their classes the next day. All attention was focused forward on the chalkboard, where former Falmouth High head coach and current assistant coach Dana Almeida was drawing up a play.
Time is running short for new Falmouth High School head coach Derek Almeida and his crew of new assistants, who will face their first test when they lead the young Clippers into the season on Saturday, September 13, in Sharon.
Almeida and his coaching staff have brought their own systems in for the FHS football program to employ on the field. That has meant a whole lot of classroom time for the Clippers, as well as on-the-field learning. Derek Almeida’s offense will be his own take on the spread option attack. He will be calling the offensive plays. As for the defense, the team will run a 4-2-5 look. The defensive calls will be split between the head coach, who will call the defensive backfield’s assignments, and the front six, who will be led by Dana Almeida, in-game.
Derek Almeida said that he thinks that the Clippers are picking things up quickly and have shown improvement on a daily basis. “They’re getting it, and understanding it, more every day,” he said. “We have them in positions we want them to be in, and they’re learning...we want to make this something that kids want to be a part of.”
One way the new head coach hopes to make the players excited about the program is by bringing in coaches who have been a part of it. Two of his assistant coaches played high school football during his father’s successful tenure at Falmouth High, and his other new assistant also played his high school football for the maroon and white. “These guys bleed maroon,” Derek Almeida said.
Xander Fuccillo is a recent graduate of Plymouth State University, where he played offensive lineman. Fuccillo will be coaching both the offensive line, with Dana Almeida, and the interior defensive linemen. Derek Almeida said Fuccillo was probably the best lineman to come through the program when he was an assistant here, and that the enthusiasm he brings to the field is infectious. He said it isn’t just about being positive, but that Fuccillo has shown right away that he’s a good coach whowill help make a difference.
“Head coach is important, but as far as wins and losses go, it’s your offensive line coach, I think. We’ve got two excellent ones,” the head coach said. “They’re two that know the system, and they’re working together. Xander looks like he’s been doing this for five or 10 years.”
Another player who came up during the elder Almeida’s tenure, went on to have a solid college career at Bridgewater State University, and is now on the staff is Stevie Clark. At both Falmouth High and Bridgewater State, Clark was the quarterback in an option offense and had success. Derek Almeida’s first year on the coaching staff with Falmouth, under his father, saw him serve as the quarterbacks coach, and that was also the first varsity season for Clark.
Clark will coach the Falmouth quarterbacks, and also work with the cornerbacks on defense. Both he and Derek Almeida will work with the safeties in the defensive backfield as well.
Steve Dematos, a former Clipper and current fireman in town, is also a new staff member. Dematos has been involved with football in town for several years and will be working with the inside linebackers and the wide receivers. Dematos is the one holdover from Steve Femino’s coaching staff. Almeida said that Dematos was highly recommended by the former head coach and has fit in perfectly with what he’s looking to build. Dematos is also involved in coaching the special teams.
Two unpaid volunteer coaches are also working with the Clippers this season. Tom Zine, a veteran football coach in town, is working as an assistant to Almeida in a variety of roles. He helped coach at FHS durig the tenureof Almeida’s father. Tryone Croom is also assisting with the Clippers, working with the special teams as well as the defensive backs and receivers.
“These guys all know the style of play that I’m going to run, and having coaches that have bought in and are loyal is important,” Derek Almeida said. “As to what we’re doing, they’re very experienced.”
The Clippers have a live scrimmage on Friday, September 5, at 6:30 in Taunton, their final dress rehearsal before opening up for real against Sharon.