New Football Season Begins For Super Bowl Champion Bourne Canalmen
By: Dan Crowley
Last year they won the Division 3A Super Bowl, but that was last year. This year, Bourne High School Head Football Coach John McIntyre points out, is a whole new ballgame with new personnel on the field, changes to the coaching staff and a different approach to the game that matches capabilities with possibilities.
Is there pressure on this year’s team after the success Bourne had in 2011?
“Emphatically no,” the coach emphasized. “That was last year. This is high school football, not the pros or some big time college program. The kids should be enjoying themselves. Every year there is a new team. We’ll play as hard as we can play and whatever happens, happens.”
The Canalmen lost key players to graduation in Joe Epps, Jack Schmitt, Drew Girouard, Jason Moriarty and Jake Achstetter.
“We lost leaders and starters,” McIntyre admitted, “Certain kids you don’t replace. Even though Joe got most of the attention last year, we did have a balanced team. Marquis Rhodes and Chad Marsh got a lot of carries. Marquis had a heck of a season last year and Chad is a veteran player.” Both will be taking on opponents out of the backfield this fall.
Quarterback Jason Moriarty was also lost to graduation, but Zach Songer should be able to step right in at signal caller this year.
“Zach has been our backup for a couple of years,” Coach McIntyre noted. “He’s a great leader and knows the offense. He’s doing a good job.”
John Curry has joined the squad this fall and is expected to be a factor at wide receiver.
“Curry’s a good athlete,” the coach said. “We’ll also have guys like Tyler Benotti at defensive end, Brendon Boisvert at outside linebacker and Geoff Hite at safety and cornerback. The offensive line is our strength; they’ll have to be strong for us to do well. We’re small; we don’t have any big kids, but we’re athletic. The kids are focused; they’re coachable and hard working. That’s all you can ask for as a coach. This is a great group.”
Bourne has veteran leadership on the field this fall with a trio of senior captains in Connor Schmitt, Tommy Davis and Colin Lanoie. Along with Dan DiMonda, they will be the keys to the offensive and defensive lines for Bourne.
“It’s a close knit group,” McIntyre said of his squad. “A lot of the kids spent time in the weight room over the summer and the seniors have been very good with the younger kids. It’s all starting to come together, but we have a lot of work to do.”
The Canalmen will enter their season opener tomorrow night at Sandwich with a 15-game winning streak that goes back to November 5, 2010, their last loss, a 28-24 defeat at the hands of Apponequet. Like the coach said, “It’s football and it’s our first game. We know Sandwich has a very good quarterback, at least two good wide receivers, big linebackers and they’re huge up front.”
SHS quarterback Zach Wagner took over midway through the 2010 season for the Knights and has grown into a top high school player. He is big and mobile and has a very good arm. The biggest threat from Wagner may be his ability to tuck the ball and run.
The Blue Knights lost a key member of their backfield to graduation but while the size is missing, they’ll staff the backfield with a quartet of four quick-footed runners who could be hard to catch once into the open. Down the field, Wagner will have an array of targets in senior co-captain David Whittle, juniors Joe and Brian Millham, Tim Sullivan, Pat Kane and Jake Ganley. The Knights lost their kicker to graduation but have found a new one in Kane.
When Bourne and Sandwich met to open the 2011 season at Jackson Field in Bourne, it was the Canalmen who came out on top, 28-27, after the Knights botched the hold on a 28-yard field goal attempt in the closing seconds.
“It’s football and it’s the first game of the season,” McIntyre said. “Anything can happen. It will be exciting.”
After what seems like a long hot preseason, the Canalmen are ready to get onto the field.
“We’ve been working hard and we’ve had our ups and downs,” the coach said. “We have a lot of new players and young kids. It was a good preseason, but now it’s time to get to work and prepare for games that mean something.”
In addition to Sandwich, the Canalmen will play nonconference games against Rockland and Bishop Stang High Schools. The South Coast Conference once again this season will be strong.
“It’s a good league,” McIntyre said of the SCC. “It’s a balanced league and it’s a tough league. I think right now, going into the season, it’s wide open. Every year the league is different. Dighton-Rehoboth and Apponequet are always favorites, but for us right now we’re just looking at Sandwich. We’re taking it game by game.”
Will being the defending Division 3A Super Bowl Champion give the Canalmen early momentum?
“No,” said McIntyre. “That was last year’s team. The only thing a championship does is give the kids the confidence to go out there and do it, to know they can win. We’ll play as hard as we can play. It’s my job, the job of the coaches, to have the team ready to play to the best of their ability.”
McIntyre is assisted this year by Coaches Terry Donovan, Jim Lanoie and Dave Harrison. They open the season tomorrow at the Sandwich Pop Warner Field on Quaker Meetinghouse Road behind Stop & Shop at 7 PM.
Playing physical and staying healthy will be keys to Bourne success this fall.
“And we have to minimize our mistakes,” Coach McIntyre added. “It’s fun to be back teaching football and installing what we want to get done, and it’s always fun to get on the field and watch the kids develop. We’re back in rhythm now. We’re going to give it our all and battle as hard as we can.”
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