The lights of Friday night will shine bright at the new Falmouth High School All-Purpose Field Friday, September 6, as the Clippers will play the first-ever game on the new field against a quality opponent from Dartmouth High to kickoff the 2019 season. Coach Derek Almeida’s squad is coming off a solid 8-2 season that saw them fall in the Division 5 south semifinals.
Can they get back to the playoffs and make another run?
That is the question that will begin getting answered when the team takes on the Indians, with kickoff set for 6 PM. Coach Almeida believes his team has potential, but also a lot of work to do to compare to the last few seasons of Clippers football.
“We’re very young, and inexperienced,” the coach said as he prepared for one of the last practices before opening night. “We have a lot of kids that can be, potentially, good football players. They just don’t know what it means to be a varsity football player just yet. I’m hoping that we’ll learn from our mistakes, practice hard and grow.”
While the Clippers may not have a lot of experience coming back, they do enjoy the benefit of having a third-year starting quarterback in senior Kyle Connolly. The gifted runner, who is drawing interest from several Division 2 and 3 colleges from around New England, will lead the triple option attack for the Clippers. Last season Connolly ran for over 1,000 yards from scrimmage and Almeida believes that his QB will be putting the ball in the air a little more this season as well.
One of Connolly’s biggest weapons, both as a receiver and runner, will be fellow senior Cam Rowell. Almeida plans on using Rowell as a bit of a Swiss Army knife on offense, lining him up in the backfield, as a fullback, split wide as a receiver and at quarterback from time to time. “We’re going to find ways to get him the ball,” the coach said.
Falmouth’s A backs in its triple option attack include senior Julian Hendricks, Sam Cavossa, Marvell Nicholson and Dre Cain Williams. Hendricks played the most last year of that group. Cavossa is a hard-working and talented athlete. Nicholson has track speed and can turn in big plays and Cain Williams is a prospect with potential.
“They’re all quick and they’re all willing blockers, which is important in our offense,” Almeida said.
The B back, or fullback, positions will be held down by David Drew. Rowell will also see time there. Drew got a lot of run from that spot last year and had some big games.
Rowell is at the top of the wide out list. Other recievers for Falmouth include Cam Govoni, Evan Isenhour, and Jayden Jaquello.
Falmouth’s offensive line will be a unit that could make all the difference. If the group jells and plays to potential, the Clippers should taste success. Senior Ethan Harper and senior Peter Doonan make up the left side, with Harper at tackle and Doonan at guard. Harper earned a starting role a year ago and had a good season for FHS.
The right side of the line features big Bryant Bowman at guard, in his first year starting on offense. The tackle on that side is Evan Lavangie, a promising junior. The center spot was still being contested in the lead-up to the opener. Came Lalonde and Nolan Murphy are both vying for that spot.
Defensively, Falmouth hopes to bring a lot of pressure with a solid front four. Coach Almeida said that the onus will be on the line to wreak havoc and, in doing so, make things easier for an inexperienced defensive backfield.
Rowell will start at one defensive end spot, with Nicholson on the other. That combination of athletic ability and speed should be a plus for the Clippers. Bowman, who was a starter on defense a year ago, will be a three technique interior lineman and one of the key components for FHS. Milt Hendricks, a sophomore, Doonan, Dom Rose and Harper will rotate at the other interior lineman spot.
Playing a 4-2-5 alignment to combat the pass-heavy teams that the Clippers will face on a weekly basis, FHS will play two linebackers. The starters at the “Ace” and “Beast” spots will be David Drew and Michael Rose. Aiden LeBlanc and Murphy will rotate in as reserves at linebacker for the Clippers.
The corners will be Hendricks, Taylor Soares, and Isenhour. The three safety spots, known in the Clippers’ vernacular as the “Wolf,” the “Shark” and the “Hunter” are Govoni, Cavossa and Cain Williams respectively. Connolly will also see some time at the Hunter spot when necessary. According to Coach Almeida, the Wolf’s responsibilities are to cover the field, the Shark works the boundary and the hunter hunts.
As a team the Clippers begin hunting for wins against the Indians.
“We’ve shown a lot of improvements on both sides of the ball since the first day of practice to the first scrimmage to the second scrimmage. I think our strength will be on defense, with our defensive line. We need to keep getting better and continue to improve,” Almeida said.
The coach said that he is not pleased with the changes that the MIAA has made in football this year by switching from the NCAA rules to the National Federation of High Schools rules. Among the rule changes are interpretations to low blocks, the length of quarters being lengthened to 12 minutes across all divisions, and the elimination of the quarterback being allowed to throw the ball out of bounds when he is outside the pocket.
“I don’t like a lot of the changes,” he said. “I don’t think that it allows for safe football...all of the (major) changes to the game make it not as safe as it used to be, I think. We’ve worked hard, as coaches, to make the game as safe as we can and to make their bodies ready for the impact. Our coaches are working hard to make the game as safe as possible and someone comes in and makes it less safe. It’s not right.”
Keys To The Game
As for the Clippers’ week one opponents, Almeida said his team needs to be ready to play against an experienced club that will be ready to go.
“They have a lot of football tradition. They look to be more experienced as a team. Their quarterback, their skill guys, they’re all pretty good. My job is to get my team ready for Friday night,” Almeida said.
As far as the keys for a Falmouth win, Almeida said that they’re what they usually are.
“It’ll be Connolly’s ability to execute the triple. We’ll put the ball in his hands and he needs to make good decisions. We need to establish the line of scrimmage and get to the point of attack. We need to limit their big plays, play the ball well in the air and can we cover guys that have varsity speed.”