Sports 08-30-2017

September 2, 2017
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RhS sports Roundup

RHS football team preparing for season

The Revere High football team opened its pre-season training sessions last week under the direction of veteran head coach Lou Cicatelli, who has greeted 72 candidates for the 2017 grid season amidst near-perfect weather conditions for late-summer football camp.

“The boys have been working hard and have shown a lot of enthusiasm,” said Cicatelli, who has guided the Patriot program to back-to-back winning seasons (7-4 in 2015 and 6-5 2016) for the first time in 35 years (when Cicatelli himself played at RHS in the early 1980s). “We have a great group of boys, including 35 freshmen, which is very exciting for the future of the program.”

Although the Patriots graduated its three top offensive performers from 2016 (halfback Victor Rivera, quarterback Eddie Sullivan, and multi-purpose offensive threat Oscar Lopez), Cicatelli is exuding confidence about the ability of his 2017 squad to make it a three-peat for a winning campaign.

“Victor, Oscar, and Eddie accounted for about 80 percent of our offensive production last year, but we have a lot of experienced players returning on our offensive line and our defense, both of which should be strengths for us,” said the coach.

Among the key players expected to shoulder the burden in the trenches on both sides of the ball are Devin Matthias, Ryan Mangino, Ronnie Marcellino, and Robert Alba.  The linebacking corps will be led by returnees Jim Kioussis, Eddie Ballou, and Zach Carifio. Freshman Jon Tran has been a pleasant surprise and should see extensive varsity action at the linebacking spot.

Cicatelli was encouraged by his offense’s ability to move the ball in Saturday’s annual controlled scrimmage with Hamilton-Wenham under the direction of sophomore quarterback Jonathan Murphy, the younger brother of former RHS star quarterback Dan Murphy, who graduated in 2016.

“Jonathan is not as fast as Danny (who was an NEC all-star sprinter), but he has more size and he gained a wealth of experience running our system as the JV quarterback last year,” noted Cicatelli. “There will be a learning curve for Jonathan moving up to the varsity, but he’s smart and aggressive and we’re confident that he will be able to make the jump to the next level.”

Junior Frank Sims, who was a stalwart on the line last year, has been moved to tight end and junior Badr Haou will see extensive action at wide receiver. Badr also shone last year as one of the top place-kickers in the area.

Zack Furlong, transfer student Darius McNeil, Matt Brito, and Ballou currently are the top running back candidates.

The Patriots will encounter a challenging schedule under the new alignment of the Northeastern Conference, which will welcome Medford, Somerville, and Malden from the former Greater Boston League. (Everett will not participate in the NEC in football, but will play an independent schedule in that sport only).

The 15 schools in the NEC have been grouped into three divisions (large, medium, and small), with Revere falling into the middle grouping along with Peabody, Gloucester, Somerville, Medford, and Marblehead. The Patriots will face those five teams, as well as crossover-opponents Swampscott (from the small division) and Lynn Classical (from the large).

After those first seven games, qualifying teams then will go into the state playoff system, with Revere slotted in Division 4. The Pats will play three games thereafter (either advancing in the winners’ bracket or being relegated to the losers’) and then will face traditional rival Winthrop on Thanksgiving Day.

Teams that qualify for the state Super Bowl playoff tournament will compete after

Thanksgiving.

But thoughts of playing football in the chill of November is a long-way off as Cicatelli and his charges prepare for the 2017 season in the dog days of August (though the weather this August has been spectacular for any athletic activity).

The Patriots were set to meet Saugus yesterday (Tuesday) in a scrimmage and then will host Northeast Regional Saturday morning at 10:00 at Harry Della Russo Stadium for their final pre-season encounter.

They will open the 2017 campaign against Gloucester on Friday evening, September 8, under the lights at HDR.

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