Make no mistake about it, the Mashpee High School football program had high expectations for the 2020 football season when that was a thing that might have happened. The Falcons wanted nothing more than to make a return trip to Gillette Stadium to play for another Super Bowl championship, which would have been their fifth, but fate intervened and there was no 2020 season.
The first of two 2021 football seasons begins for the Falcons this weekend with a trip to face Mashpee’s biggest non-league rival of the past several seasons, Nantucket. While Mashpee will not be playing for a trip to Foxboro, it still has high expectations and hopes, with the South Shore League championship on its mind. For the first time in league history the winners of the large and small divisions of the SSL will meet for an overall league championship in the final week of the season. MHS wants to be in that game.
“We’ve known that this was going to be a good class since they were in the ninth grade,” coach Matt Triveri said in regards to this year’s senior class, one stacked with talent all over the place. “We have a chance to play for a league title, and that’s special.”
With Nantucket opening things up for Mashpee, the squad begins with motivation on day one. Nantucket knocked MHS out of the state playoffs a year ago, and in lopsided fashion, 38-0. “It helps when all you have to do is log on to Hudl and press play,” Triveri said, referring to the website that hosts all of the school’s game footage. “Our kids are motivated.”
Maybe a bigger reason that the team is motivated to perform in 2021 is that they will be playing not only for themselves, but also for a beloved member of the MHS football family who will not be on the sidelines this season. Assistant coach Chris Rendigs has coached the offensive line for well over a decade, and played at Mashpee High School. Rendigs, known as Coach Diggs around campus, is battling a rare form of cancer and has shown perseverance and courage throughout his ordeal. There is no doubt that the Falcons will have him in mind each time they step onto the football field.
“He’s kind of the heart and soul of what we do here,” Triveri said. “If he could still put on the pads and play, he’d still do it. Our kids feed off of him, his swagger, his confid, his unique way of communicating with them. They respect the guy and love the guy.”
Rendigs would have certainly loved the group of linemen that would be blocking every play for the offense this year because they’re strong, and quality, football players. One of the leaders of the group is senior Matt Bowen, a 6-7, 215-pound Southern Connecticut-commit who will line up at tight end. The athletic big man is a quality edge-setter and can run routes well and grab passes. He will be a weapon for the team.
Big Erich Menke (6-3, 220) will be the right tackle, and Chris Dostillio (5-11, 215) lines up at the guard spot next to him. At center, Hunter Bohnenberger (5-11, 215) will snap the ball and direct the line. Left guard Jessie Hickey (6-0, 270) and left tackle Tighe Ferzoco (5-10, 190) round out the starting group that will help MHS move the ball on the ground and through the air. Backing them up with be junior Brett Hickey (6-1, 320) and D’neal Stewart (6-0, 215).
MHS has a nice group of backs to run with the ball and catch it out of the backfield. The quickest of the group is senior Nick Santos, who can get to the edge and run with power. Caesar Hendricks is more of an edge runner who can also catch swing passes, and senior Jared Barr is a do-all back who isn’t afraid to get the tough yards.
Speaking of tough yards, the starting fullback is senior Jack Vinitsky. The two-time league all-star is a great lead blocker and makes the most out of the dive plays that are called for him. Cam Sweeney will also see plenty of reps at fullback.
Catching passes will be a nice assortment of wideouts. Jordan Vazquez-Joia transferred to MHS before the start of the year and should showcase great speed and a nice set of hands. Aiden McDougall, a senior, Danny Mitchell, a junior, and AJ Govoni, the fastest player on the team, will all line up outside as well.
Throwing them the ball is the leader of the team, senior Ryan Hendricks. The returning starting quarterback is a dual threat from behind center, able to beat teams with his legs and arm. His ability to hit passes at all levels of the field has improved greatly over the last year, and Hendricks is primed to have a big season for the Falcons.
The defense is loaded with talented players at all three levels. Many of the names are the same, but there are some one-way players for MHS that will be difference-makers for the club.
On the D-line, Bret Hickey, Dostillio, Shea Eaton, Steward and Bohnenberg will all see time at defensive tackle. Eaton’s tenacity and quickness will lead to plays for certain, and the other interior linemen all bring good things to the table. At end, Bowen is the headliner. The senior should be a force for the Falcons while Menke and Dakota Dias also see plenty of time.
The inside linebackers for the Falcons are talented, led by Vinitsky, who is a physical and skilled defender. Kayden Eaton, Tommy Hogan, and Dias will also see time at ILB. On the outside, Sweeney and Santos will see the starters reps. Mitchell, Dias and Trey Peters are in the mix as well.
On the corners, Ryan and Caesar Hendricks will be the starters, with Govoni, MacDougal and Aiden Cuozzo all getting reps as well. Seniors Barr and Johnston are the safeties. Barr is a leader on the defense and will be around the ball all the time.