Summer Snapshot: Doherty Highlanders

August, 6, 2013
8/06/13
11:43
PM ET
This is the second installment in our "Summer Snapshot" series, checking in with some of Massachusetts' top teams leading into the MIAA football preseason. To see all of our Summer Snapshots, CLICK HERE.

Long on athleticism but often short on results, this last decade has seen an impressive turnaround for once-dormant Doherty High. Last fall was an historic season for the Highlanders, which took some of Central Mass.'s heavyweights to the wire (Nashoba) and gave others a swift humbling (Holy Name, Shepherd Hill). They finished 9-3, losing the rematch with Shepherd Hill in the MIAA Central Mass. Division 2 playoffs, but by all accounts 2012 was a high water mark.

At safety they'll return Isaac Yiadom -- a Boston College commit, the state's No. 4 overall prospect, and the program's highest-profile recruit since current UConn linebacker Yawin Smallwood -- but there are questions everywhere else with the graduation of eight starters. Can the Highlanders continue the momentum that's been building for the last few seasons? We checked in with them this morning as part of our annual preseason football gallery.

DOHERTY AT A GLANCE
Coach: Sean Mulcahy (22nd season, 98-143)
Last season: 9-3, lost in Div. 2 CMass Playoffs
Final ESPN Boston Rank: NR
Returning Starters: 10 (seven offense, three defense)
Key Losses: LB Noah Robinson, RB/DB Terence Hall, DB Abdullah Webster, DB Sam Oppong, OL/DL Dave Ritchotte, OL/DL Robbie Nay, LB Maurice Morales, OL/DL Octavio Rodriguez
Key Returnees: Sr. WR/DB Isaac Yiadom, Sr. QB Luke Brennan, Sr. WR Alfred Adarkwah, Sr. RB/LB Pete Franco, Sr. OL/DL Jack Halloran, Sr. E/DB Shawn Jackson, Sr. E/DB Mitch Celaj, OL/DL Mitch Smalls
Overview: Coming off one of their most successful campaigns in years last fall, the Highlanders must find a way to replace eight starters on defense, most notably Robinson (125 tackles, five sacks). Normally that's a daunting task, but the presence of one of the state's best pass defenders in Yiadom, a fluid athlete who covers plenty of ground at free safety and demonstrates great leaping ability, should keep things clean in back. Perhaps the quality secondary can help shore up the youthful front seven. Offensively, Yiadom is the top option, and has great rapport with Brennan, a Franklin Pierce University baseball commit. But keep an eye on Adarkwah, a big target at 6-foot-4 and 170 pounds, who could have a breakout senior campaign. With his long, lanky frame, Adarkwah has an exceptionally large catching radius and does a quality job sealing off defenders downfield on run plays. In the newly-aligned Central Mass. district, Doherty figures to be one of several favorites in Division 4, but they'll have a tougher schedule to endure, including a must-see matchup with D2 favorite Leominster in the final week of the regular season.

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