DUXBURY, Mass. –- As a sophomore, linebacker Marshall McCarthy began his gridiron career for the Duxbury Dragons with a bang against Bridgewater-Raynham in week one of the 2010 season.
Fourteen bangs to be exact.
McCarthy, now a senior captain for the Dragons, piled up 14 tackles against the Trojans as the Dragons won, 42-22, that afternoon.
He hasn’t looked back since, and neither have the Dragons as that game kicked off a winning streak that is still alive two years later. It stands at 26 straight and includes a pair of Super Bowl titles.
“We’ve never seen anything else out of him,” said coach Dave Maimaron. “He is one of the most devastating tacklers I’ve ever seen. He just loves to hit. I think he looks forward to hitting people.”
His teammates might look forward to McCarthy hitting people as much as he does, and it’s not just because he racks up tackles, but because of the way he goes about it.
“It’s exciting any time someone on your team makes a big hit, but whenever he pops somebody, it’s different than anyone I’ve ever played with,” said fellow captain Jon Hurvitz. “It’s just the sound, man. You can hear it from the sideline. You hear it all over the field. When he hits someone, it’s just real loud.”
McCarthy’s big tackles are nothing new.
“It’s just part of the game,” he said. “You just have to bring it. I grew up playing football from second grade on and that’s just always been my instinct.”
Added Hurvitz: “Even growing up, he was always like that. He’s always been one of the best players one the field and just seems to be around the ball, in on every tackle.”
Maimaron, who has coached four undefeated Super Bowl champions in his eight years as head coach at Duxbury, recognizes that the 6’0, 210-pound McCarthy is much more than just a heavy hitter.
“He has to be the leader out there, he’s the only linebacker with experience,” said Maimaron. “He’s great in pass coverage and he’s great at stopping the run. He is a complete linebacker.”
This season even more than ever, McCarthy’s impact will be necessary because the Dragons graduated nine players who are playing either NCAA Div. 1 football or lacrosse this year.
“Replacing nine D-1 athletes – even if they’re not all playing football, is no easy task,” said Maimaron. “Obviously, last year was special. I felt like I was coaching an all-star team and now we’re a high school football team. We all have to work a little harder.”
Graduating a four players named to ESPN Boston's 2011 All-State Team -- quarterback Matt O’Keefe, receiver Don Webber, offensive tackle Gordon Acha, safety James Burke -- as well as safety Reilly Naton and linebacker Max Randall, doesn’t mean expectations have changed for Duxbury football in 2012.
“We have four goals every year,” said Hurvitz. “Our first goal is to beat Bridgewater-Raynham. The second goal is to beat Xaverian. After that, we want to win the Patriot League. The last goal is to get to the Super Bowl and win.”
Even with the graduation of such an impressive class, the Dragons still return potential stars all over the field.
Rob Kosharek, a 6-foot-6, 250-pound left guard, returns to the offensive trenches for Duxbury after garnering ESPN All-State honors last year. C.J. LoConte, a captain this year, will be the team’s center. Several other players have already stepped forward on the offensive line.
“The offensive line has been a real pleasant surprise so far,” said Maimaron. “Grant Kramer, whose brother Aaron is playing over at BC, is a junior whose been doing an unbelievable job in camp so far. Right now, our offensive line and our running back looks like the strength of our offense.”
The running back Maimaron speaks of is Hurvitz, who could be primed for a breakout season with the Dragons shifting to an offensive attack that features more running than recent years.
“He’s probably the worst to try and tackle, not to mention of the hardest guys to bring down because he just keeps moving his feet,” said McCarthy, who often squares off against him in practice. “He lifts just as much as some linemen do and he’s only 165 or 170 pounds. It’s hard to stop him.”
Hurvitz not only welcomes contact from defenders trying to stop him, but forces the issue when they get near him.
“Growing up I was kind of afraid to get hit and then one of my coaches told me to lower my shoulder and hit them back,” he said. “I’ve been doing it ever since.”
Hurvitz also saw time as a starter last season at corner back, and will be back to help the secondary again this year.
Kevin Guilfoyle, a senior captain and three-year starter, will be one of the team’s top receiving threats.
The Dragons also return defensive tackle Mark Trudeau, and the expectations are the same for him as the other returning starters.
“Mark is going to be one of the best in the state, without a doubt,” said Maimaron. “He can play. He’s a three-year start a d-tackle.”
While the Dragons plan to lean on their returning starters, they have no doubt that new faces will play a significant role in pursuing their third straight Super Bowl title.
“The tradition and experience of winning kind of sets the bar for these kids,” said Maimaron. “They know what it takes to win. We have kids who were waiting to get on the field and now they’ll get their chance.”
One of the most important guys who have been waiting to get on the field will be Sean McCarthy, who looks like the heir apparent to O’Keefe at the quarterback position.
“He has the one spot right now but we still have a couple more evaluations,” said Maimaron. “We’re evaluating these guys every day. He’s worked really hard in the weight room and really worked on strength and athleticism. He probably runs a little bit better than Matt and throws a little bit better than Kane Haffey (who saw time at QB in 2010). It’s kind of the best of both worlds.”
DUXBURY AT A GLANCE
2011: 13-0, won Division 2 Eastern Mass. Super Bowl
Coach: Dave Maimaron (Eighth season , 72-12)
Strengths: Offensive line, running back
Weaknesses: Experience at quarterback
Key Returnees: Marshall McCarthy, Sr. LB, 6-0, 210 lbs; Jon Hurvitz, Sr. RB/CB, 5-9, 170 lbs; Rob Kosharek, Sr. OG, 6-6, 250 lbs; C.J. LoConte, Sr. C/LB, 6-0, 190 lbs.
Outlook: Duxbury might not be able to rattle off a third-straight unbeaten campaign (Bridgewater-Raynham week one and Xaverian week five are the biggest hurdles), but the Dragons have to be among the favorites to win the Div. 2 Super Bowl this season. Even after graduating nine NCAA Div. 1 athletes, they are still the class of the Patriot League Keenan Division and have experienced players all over the field. Not many teams could graduate four ESPN All-State honorees and not miss a beat, but Dave Maimaron is confident that younger plyers have been waiting for their chance to step in and add to the program’s legacy. Dragons’ players certainly believe they can repeat. “We’re still expecting the same things,” said Marshall McCarthy. “Our skill level might not be exactly what it was the last two years, but I still think we can get it done.”