There’s no denying the monumental improvements the Bourne football team made in 2018. But that year is over. This year is all about building off that momentum and continuing their climb to relevancy among the Division 7 South playoff contenders.
“We want to keep that momentum going,” head coach John McIntyre said. “We lost 14 or 15 seniors from that team. We’re in the process of finding kids to replace them. We’re still trying to put the pieces of the puzzle together. It’s a work in progress.”
While the longtime Canalmen head coach will downplay where his team stands ahead of their first game of the season, there is plenty to get excited about the South Coast Conference-Small team that made the playoffs last year. Beginning in the backfield, the Canalmen have a full stable of horses that are regarded as some of the best the SCC-Small has to offer. Seniors Jaimon Scott and Josh Gonzalez will share carries with junior Ryan O’Connor and sophomore Logan Cooke. Add in quarterbacks Shawn McDonough and Joe Carrara, both of whom are skilled runners, and the Canalmen will look to run rampant on opposing defenses in 2019.
“Even our QBs are runners, they can throw, but we’ll be looking to run more this year. I think we got three or four of the best backs in our SCC-Small Division,” McIntyre said.
Operating out of the same spread formation that was implemented last year, Bourne won’t be as pass happy with this group as they were when led by departed players like James Cahoon, Spencer Rose and Jack Neil. That will put an even bigger emphasis on the offensive line to hold their blocking and dominate the line of scrimmage with their zone blocking schemes. But they will have to do so with a revamped line group, as only one starter from the 2018 team returns in 2019.
During a practice on Monday, August 26, much attention was spent on the units’ blocking assignments and splits.
And for as much attention as the offense may garner in the early-goings, it’s the defense that is the more advanced unit at this point of the season, according to McIntyre. With seven returning starters on that of the ball, including the entire starting secondary last year, the Bourne defense will look to wreak havoc on opposing offenses and reclaim the nickname ‘purple people eaters’. McDonough, Scott, juniors Brady Fitzpatrick and Nick Santucci will be joined by senior newcomer Logan Hawkes, a standout lacrosse player, in the defensive backfield this year. Add in such intricate two-way players as junior Justin McHugh and Gonzalez on the defense and Bourne is well on its way to being a strong defensive unit.
Roster numbers remain on a slight incline, with roughly 35 players — although that number is still small when compared to other schools. But to the players on Bourne, roster size is only a number.
“Football is a mentality. It’s not about numbers,” McHugh said.
That theory will be tested out of the gates when the Canalmen open the season at home on Friday, September 6 at Jackson Field when they host cross-rotary rival Upper Cape Tech. Though Bourne won the previous two meetings, the Rams found their footing following last year’s season-opening loss and return 23 seniors from a team that reached the Division 8 South semifinals. The Canalmen follow that game with one against their chief rivals, Wareham. After being dominated against the Vikings over the last decade, Bourne dismantled the young Vikings team in two meetings last year, highlighted with a 39-0 win in Wareham on Thanksgiving.
Five of their eight scheduled regular season games will come at home, including pivotal divisional games against Seekonk and Case—both resulted in road losses last year. Additionally part of the home schedule is a non-conference game against Martha’s Vineyard, where last year they had to take the ferry over. That will be key for Bourne, which went 2-1 at home last year, but 3-4 on the road.
With a smaller team, staying close to home for much of the season should, in theory, help the Canalmen stay healthy in 2019. But regardless of where they’re playing, the Canalmen are less concerned about numbers and more concerned about winning games.
“Some teams have 60 or 50 players on the team. We may only have 30-something, but it only takes 11 to win games,” Fitzpatrick said. “We have a dedicated group of football players here. That’s all we need.”