Boston High School: Jake Lazarus

Longmeadow expands its empire to Gillette

December, 3, 2011
12/03/11
6:23
PM ET


FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- For the second year in a row, the Longmeadow Lancers are the MIAA Western Massachusetts Divison I Super Bowl champions, but for the first time they were able to play at Gillette Stadium.

Overcoming multitudes of hurdles, including numerous injuries with those to starting quarterback Jake Lazarus and running back T.J. Norris and an earlier loss to Springfield Central, 21-20, on Oct. 15, the Lancers' victorious finale under the lights in Foxborough was nothing short of a miracle.

"In my 25 years of coaching, I have never seen anything like this," Longmeadow defensive coordinator Nick St. George said whose . "But we pulled it together."

Earlier this season, Rotsko discussed the importance of developing a program in which underclassmen develop throughout their time in the system so that when it is their time to carry the torch they are ready to do so. This season, junior Frankie Elder, who started off as a running back, took over at the quarterback position from Norris, who took it over from Lazarus, and lead the Lancers to a 35-7 win over Central in a rematch of last year's title game.

Although an amazing feat for some, Rotsko did not expect anything less from Elder, as this is not the first time he has broken the normal for Longmeadow.

"He's been a starter since his sophomore year," Rotsko said. "Actually he started on defense as a freshman, and I think we've had two freshmen in my 19 years that are staring and he's one of them. He's been around a little bit and has a lot of confidence. Playing a new position, I don't know if he could've done a better job than he did today."

Although Elder filled the big shoes, leading a team that has won 11 of the last 15 Division 1 Super Bowls, it did not coming without reservations.

"To be completely honest, I didn't really want to play quarterback, I'm a running back at heart," Elder said. Despite what his personal preference was, he was able to lead to his to glory, even with some doubt of his own abilities. "I can't really throw the ball, but we all got it done today and it was fantastic, it was awesome."

In the previous game, the Springfield Central Golden Eagles were able to score 21 points on the Lancers but today they only scored one touchdown in the second quarter, a 31-yard pass from Cody Williams to Joshua Malone. The difference in scoring and inability to run the ball (Certral had 50 yards on the ground) was summed up by junior lineman Louie Calabrese.

"We struck the keys, hit them in the chin and didn't let them drive us back like last time," Calabrese said. "Last time... it's probably that they embarrassed us. They embarrassed us last time, we were mad, real mad, but we got back at them though."

"When you get down, you've got to get back up and keep working harder," said Lazarus, who missed the first five games of the season with a broken right thumb and played today with a cast on his left arm for the same reason. "With an opportunity like this, you can't let injuries overcome you."


No. 10 Longmeadow reloaded for another run

September, 1, 2011
9/01/11
6:43
AM ET
After winning one or two championships, team strength cycles and coaches have a few rebuilding seasons before they make it back to the ‘ship. Longmeadow has won 10 Super Bowls in the last 14 years and Alex Rotsko does not plan on having a rebuilding season, and neither do any of his players.

“Some of our team goals are to go undefeated and return to the Super Bowl and hold our title against anyone,” said senior quarterback Jake Lazarus.

Last season’s only loss was a 37-8 defeat at the hands of St. John’s Shrewsbury in the second game of the season. The team’s only touchdown came in the third quarter on a Terry Norris seven yard run in the third quarter. While Lazarus threw for the extra point conversion and ultimately led his team to the Western Mass Super Bowl, the loss is not forgotten.

After a year at the helm of the Lancers offense, coach Rotsko feels more confident in Lazarus and that if the team is to be back in the running for their league and ultimately the Super Bowl, that it is crucial for Lazarus to be a more efficient colonel.

“He’s bigger, stronger, has got a full year of playing under his belt,” said Rotsko of the senior quarterback.

Rotsko is a big believer in transition time. As his players grow in age, he expects physical maturity, mental advancements and better play. This expectation year after year, in increments measured by their year and previous performance, creates a clear goal for the players to work for. A little praise for the success, firm objectives for the future.

“I think Jake did a great job of running our team last year…makes a lot of check for us on the line of scrimmage and is outstanding at that," Rotsko said. "I thought at times last year he had some inconsistency throwing the ball so we’ll be looking for more consistency there. We expect him to improve more and more.”

Lazarus said that he has been doing his part.

“During the off season I have attended multiple football camps and clinics," he said. "I have definitely become a smarter player due to that as well as hitting the weight room hard to gain as much strength and weight as I could.

“Preparation for the season doesn't start on the first day of practice but during the off season. The team coming into the season looks strong. Our expectations at Longmeadow are always very high.”

Junior two-way lineman Robert McClure, a 6-foot-1, 250-pound returning starter, feels very good about coming back as a junior and a champion, but is not content.

“I'm very confident in the team coming into this season. We've all been working hard in the weight room as well as our individual running programs this offseason,” said McClure.

Since the Lancers beat Springfield Central is in last year's Western Mass Div. I Super Bowl at Westfield State, McClure has been thinking about going back to the Bowl. The New England Patriots have opened up Foxborough for our 90 West brethren, where the Central and Western Massachusetts Division 1 Super Bowls will be held for the first time this December.

“With all the returning starters there’s no reason we can't work hard every day, and as long as we work to get better every day there is no reason we can't get to Gillette," he said.

Speaking as a veteran, with time in and time left to go, McClure lays out the blueprint for his team’s reign -- “Blood, sweat and tears are what built this dynasty up and we have to rise to the occasion," he said.

Coming behind McClure and the rest of the line is senior, three-year starter T.J. Norris. According to Rotsko, teams that planned against Norris last year will not be having an easier time this session. Even though he didn’t get to play in the last year’s playoffs, Rotsko believes that he rushed for over 2,000 yards over the last few years and that he is back in full health.

“He’s a talented player and we’re looking for him to have a big year. We’re expecting him to lead our team offensively," Rotsko said.

Norris’ speed and ability to cover receivers out of the backfield and off of the line have moved him to outside linebacker from inside backer. With a strong core at inside backer, Norris being on the outside opens up opportunities for Rotsko.

“I think he makes our team better if he can do that," Rotsko said.

LONGMEADOW AT A GLANCE

2010 record: 21-1 (Won Western Mass. Division I Super Bowl)
Coach: Alex Rotsko
Players to watch: Jake Lazarus, Sr. QB; T.J. Norris, Sr., RB/LB; Robert McClure, Jr., OL/DL, 6-1, 250; Stephen Krushnell, Jr., C/DL, 6-2, 265; Louie Claberese, Jr., OL/DL 6-1, 275
Strengths: Offensive line, running backs.
Weakness: Secondary experience.
Outlook: Rotsko is looking for growth. Super Bowl 2010 was last year, and he has a corp of young linemen back to maintain the Lancers’ dominant running game. With Norris back healthy, Lazarus back with time in the gym and training sessions, a sharper archer with room to balance out the Lancers offensive attack with a high-powered passing game. Krushnell, McClure and the line have to maintain their dominance opening up the running game for Norris, who once given space will make his way to the goal line.

ESPN Boston's Preseason All-State Team

August, 22, 2011
8/22/11
6:55
AM ET
Below is our Preseason MIAA All-State Football Team, along with some other players to watch. Returning All-Staters are bolded.

OFFENSE

QB – Nick LaSpada, Sr., Billerica
QB – Jonathan DiBiaso, Sr., Everett
QB – Brandon Walsh, Sr., North Andover
RB – Andrew Coke, Sr., Andover
RB – Preston Cooper, Sr., BC High
RB – George Craan, Sr., Concord-Carlisle
RB – Sacoy Malone, Sr., Springfield Central
TE – Jameson McShea, Sr., BC High
TE – Lucas Bavaro, Jr., St. John’s Prep
WR – Khary Bailey-Smith, Sr., Weymouth
WR – Efrain Montalvo, Sr., St. John’s (Shrewsbury)
WR – Don Webber, Sr., Duxbury
WR – A.J. Baker, Sr., Swampscott
OL – Tyler Loring, Sr., Catholic Memorial
OL – Peter Salem, Sr., Dracut
OL – Ryan Anger, Sr., St. John’s (Shrewsbury)
OL – T.J. Leeman, Sr., Andover
OL – John Montelus, Jr., Everett
ATH – Armani Reeves, Sr., Catholic Memorial
ATH – Karl Sery, Sr., Hudson
K – Jules Murphy, Sr., Xaverian

DEFENSE

DL – Ralph Jonathas, Sr., Everett
DL – Dino Hyppolite, Sr., Brockton
DL – Brendan Battles-Santos, Sr., Nauset
DL – Brett Harrington, Sr., Chelmsford
LB – Tim Joy, Sr., Chelmsford
LB – Max McDaniel, Sr., Lexington
LB – Vondell Langston, Sr., Everett
LB – Max Randall, Sr., Duxbury
LB – Buck McCarthy, Sr., Everett
LB – Camren Williams, Sr., Catholic Memorial
DB – Jesse Monteiro, Sr., Brockton
DB – Reilly Naton, Sr., Duxbury
DB – Casey DeAndrade, Sr., East Bridgewater
DB – Obi Melifonwu, Sr., Grafton
RET – Chucky Ortiz, Sr., Woburn

Watch List:
Chris Burke, Sr. LB, Gloucester
Drew Burnett, Sr. QB, Needham
Chris Calvanese, Sr. QB, Xaverian
Luke Catarius, Jr. LB, BC High
D.J. Crook, Sr. QB, Barnstable
A.J. Doyle, Sr. QB, Catholic Memorial
Donovan Henry, Sr. RB/DB, Catholic Memorial
Kurt Hunziker, Sr. RB/LB, Masconomet
Maurice Hurst Jr., Jr. DL, Xaverian
Damion Johnson, Sr. WR, Dennis-Yarmouth
Matt King, Sr. RB/LB, Scituate
Jake Lazarus, Sr. QB, Longmeadow
Matt Montalto, Sr. QB, Dennis-Yarmouth
Paul Mroz, Sr. QB, Brockton
Terry Norris, Sr. RB, Longmeadow
Chuddy Nwachukwu, Jr. OL, Dighton-Rehoboth
Marcus Odiah, Jr. RB, Burlington
Matt O’Keefe, Sr. QB, Duxbury
Quinton Perkins, Sr. RB, Fitchburg
Joe Previte, Jr. OL/DL, Brockton
Bartley Regan, Sr. QB, BC High
Charles Ruffin, Sr. RB, King Philip
Nick Schlatz, Sr. RB/LB, Bridgewater-Raynham
Mike Walsh, Sr. QB/S, Swampscott

Sierra saves No. 8 Longmeadow in thriller

November, 25, 2010
11/25/10
4:49
PM ET
EAST LONGMEADOW, Mass. -- The last two confrontations in the East Longmeadow-Longmeadow rivalry has left one team heart-broken because of a last-second loss, and one team overjoyed after it narrowly pulled out an exciting victory. This Thanksgiving the game continued with the same theme.

The No. 8 Longmeadow Lancers survived a bruising Thanksgiving Day-game with a 13-7 overtime win, after they were brought to the brink of defeat by No. 18 East Longmeadow with nine seconds left in the fourth quarter.

In overtime Longmeadow (10-1, 7-0 AA) intercepted East Longmeadow (9-1, 6-1) quarterback Tom Mazza’s pass on third down, and simply needed a field goal to earn the victory. On second and goal from the five-yard line, Longmeadow coach Alex Rotsko sent out the field goal unit, but before the snap, the group switched into a Wing-T formation, and backup quarterback Joe Volk handed the ball off on a belly to the right side.

Fullback T.J. Norris fumbled the ball into the end zone, where Lancers’ sophomore Austin Sierra jumped on it, gaining possession of the ball for a timely score and a Longmeadow victory.

Rotsko said after the game that the decision to run the ball with the field goal-unit came because he wanted to move the ball to a better position to kick a field goal, and decided he might as well try to trick the defense.

“Oh my god,” Longmeadow co-captain Jeff Anderson said about the finish. “When that ball dropped, it was the scariest moment of my life.”

“I was more worried about the snap because Joey [Volk] is our holder. Normally I wouldn’t do anything like that, but I have a lot of trust in him,” Rotsko said about the call. “You don’t worry about your fullback, because he’s got to hang onto the ball, but I guess we got a little bit lucky.”

The two teams both averaged over 30 points per game coming into the matchup, but both defenses stood up to the test.

“When you get into a football game of this magnitude, the defenses are just so well prepared, “ EL coach Scott Raymond said about the game. “Both coaching staffs basically shut down both offenses. You couldn’t pick a winner out of this game -- you couldn’t pick someone that had any decided advantage.”

Longmeadow’s Norris managed 23 yards on 11 carries, and EL’s Ray Holloway had 37 yards on 15 carries.

“It was back-and-forth, just waiting for something to break for either team,” Rotsko said. “It never really did…defensively it was two good efforts by two teams that wanted to win.”

Both Rotsko and Raymond decided it was the right move to throw the ball to the outside in the second half. Longmeadow’s Jake Lazarus had the most offense for either team, completing 10 of 16 passes for 160 yards with one touchdown and two interceptions.

The Spartans’ Mazza had 59 yards on 9 of 13 passes with one interception, but most of those passes came on a fourth quarter drive that showed how talented East Longmeadow really is.

EL strung together the drive of the year using the no-huddle offense and 17 plays to take the ball from their one-yard line to Longmeadow’s 20 and taking up the last five minutes of time in regulation. With nine seconds to play, EL’s Holloway lined up for a 32-yard field goal with the game on the line -- that was eerily similar to last season’s 45-yard miss to give Longmeadow a 21-19 victory. After a succession of timeouts, Holloway missed the kick short and to the right.

“The only [good] drive of the game was the last one that East Longmeadow put together, and based on that, they probably deserved to win the game,” Rotsko said after the game. “But sometimes its better to be lucky than good I guess.”

NO. 8 LONGMEADOW 13, NO. 18 EAST LONGMEADOW 7

LM 0 7 0 0 6 --- 13
EL 7 0 0 0 0 --- 7

First Quarter
EL - Tom Mazza 1 run (Ray Holloway kick)

Second Quarter
L - Ben Sterrit 14 pass from Jake Lazarus (Sterrit kick)

Overtime
L - Austin Sierra 0 fumble recovery

The great rivalry of the West

November, 24, 2010
11/24/10
6:40
PM ET
LONGMEADOW, Mass. -- Across the state, most football-powerhouses meet their match on Thanksgiving Day. They face off against a similarly talented team, the records get thrown out, and it’s a no-holds-barred battle for Turkey Day supremacy.

In the Central and Eastern parts of Massachusetts there are plenty of games to choose from: Xaverian and St. John’s Prep, Marshfield and Duxbury, Andover and Central Catholic or Fitchburg and Leominster -- just to name a few.

But for everyone west of Worcester, if you want to see a consistently close game between two of the most successful programs in the region, you head to the annual Longmeadow-East Longmeadow Thanksgiving Day matchup.

This heated rivalry wasn't forged in 1882 like Wellsley and Needham’s game, nor has it involved the trading off of some kind of historical relic, but time-after-time this contest comes down to pure competition between two of the best in the West.

If you’re trying to pick a favorite in this game, then good luck. This year’s contest is a headache to break down.

At first glance, the two teams’ records stand out. East Longmeadow (9-0,6-0 AA) has a chance to go undefeated for the first time in Coach Scott Raymond’s career, and Longmeadow (9-1, 6-0) has one loss to out of conference opponent St. John’s (Shrewsbury).

The Longmeadow Lancers come in with a stronger schedule as they lost to St. John’s (Shrewsbury) and beat Catholic Memorial earlier in the season, but according both coaches, strength of schedule won’t matter on the field on Thursday.

“I don’t see [our schedule] as a factor at all. I think they could have just as easily gone out to St. John’s and got their butt kicked as we did,” Longmeadow coach Alex Rotsko joked. “I don’t know if they’re better than Catholic Memorial or not -- I’m not sure we are better than CM.

“We beat Catholic Memorial that night and did some good things, but if you look at the common opponents [with East Longmeadow], the scores are very comparable actually.”

“I don’t think the kids even look at [the out of conference games],” Raymond said. “They’ve played against Longmeadow since their youth days and the can judge their competitive level with that.”

After last year’s conference realignment, East Longmeadow has now moved up into the AA conference with Longmeadow -- even though they are in Division II as far as the MIAA playoffs are concerned. Longmeadow has won or shared a whopping nine-straight league titles (although one year Longmeadow tied with Minnechaug Regional High School) but this year’s game -- like last year’s -- is for the league title.

The Spartans will host the Lancers for the last time on the current field at East Longmeadow High School (before it's replaced with turf in the offseason) and they are hoping to continue a win-streak that dates back to 2006. The last time East Longmeadow lost at home was against -- you guessed it -- the Lancers. And speaking of streaks, Longmeadow has not lost to a conference opponent since 2004, when the Lancers fell to Agawam at home.

“The excitement of playing Longmeadow has changed a little bit for us, because we’ve gotten to the point where we feel we can compete with them,” Raymond said about Longmeadow. “They’re such a great program and our kids get excited because they want to play the best -- and they’ve always demonstrated that they are the best.”

The two teams are very familiar with each other. Raymond used to coach at Longmeadow High before Rotsko became the head coach, and he and Rotsko remain friends despite their teams’ rivalry. But it doesn’t stop there.

In the offseason, Rotkso and Raymond team up to run the Wing-T Camp at either Longmeadow or East Longmeadow High every summer. This gives teams from around the region an opportunity to learn from some of the best Wing-T minds in the area. It also gives East Longmeadow and Longmeadow a chance to measure up against one another before they put the pads on.

That familiarity with each other’s offense makes the Thanksgiving Day game an annual chess match between coaches. Whether Rotsko will dust off his patented sweep-series “sucker”-trap (where the guard pulls outside to draw a linebacker), or Raymond will implement the sweep-series quarterback keeper to get an extra athlete in front of the normal outside-run, both coaches will pull out all the tricks they have.

While ball possession will surely be a factor in the game because of the 10-minute quarters now implemented in the Thanksgiving Day games, it is worth seeing what the coaches thought (outside of the clock) will be a factor in the game.

When asked about what the keys to the game will be Rotsko gave his textbook vanilla-answer.

“First, we’re trying not to give up big plays, and secondly execution,” Rotsko said. “The team that executes better will win the game.”

When asked about what stands out about Longmeadow’s team, Raymond paused and laughed.

“What doesn’t stand out?” Raymond responded.

KEYS TO VICTORY:
  • Unlike how the coaches responded, if you look at the offensive stats, both teams stack up well against another. Longmeadow’s top two rushers (T.J. Norris and Frankie Elder) have combined for 22 rushing touchdowns, while East Longmeadow’s lead backs (Ray Holloway and Bryce McAllister) racked up 26 touchdowns.
  • Look for Holloway to have one big return against a Longmeadow kickoff team that always seems to be a weakness (if there was one) for the Lancers. Holloway -- like Minnechaug’s Mike Mercadante earlier in the year -- will have a lot of success against the Lancers, but Longmeadow will try to completely shut down the rest of the Spartans offense.
  • Don’t be surprised if Rotsko decides to air it out with Jake Lazarus. Although the Thanksgiving Day game usually presents raw or wet weather, by this time in the year, Rotsko typically gains enough confidence in his signal-callers to expand the playbook.

No. 18 Longmeadow stuns No. 7 CM

October, 9, 2010
10/09/10
1:23
AM ET
WEST ROXBURY, Mass. - Western Massachusetts, stand up.

Benjamin "Cool Hand Luke" Sterritt booted a 20-yard field goal with five seconds remaining in the game to lead the 17th-ranked Longmeadow Lancers to a fourth-quarter, 10-point comeback win over No. 7 Catholic Memorial, 27-26.

"It's a great win, especially coming down here from Longmeadow," Longmeadow captain Jeffrey Anderson said. "In Western Mass., we're always looked down upon, like 'We don't play anybody'. Coming down here and beating an Eastern Mass. power feels great."

Longmeadow was up 17-14 at halftime, but lost the lead in the third quarter. Up 26-17, going into the fourth, Catholic Memorial was looking to hold onto the lead, but Longmeadow was looking to go back to Western Massachusetts with a win.

Longmeadow was moving down the ball downfield with their sights on the end zone, but Jacob Lazarus fumbled a snap and CM took over with 2:52 left in the game. All Catholic Memorial had to do was hold onto the ball.

Easier said than done.

After a 35-yard run by William Earl, CM had trouble moving the ball, with 4- and 1-yard runs by A.J. Doyle. On third and five, Earl was stopped for a nine yard loss by Longmeadow's Ryan Barry.

On fourth and 14 from the 29, Catholic Memorial went for the end zone with Doyle throwing one up top for Reeves, and he caught it -- out of bounds.

Taking over from the 29, the Lancers went to the air. Passes for 18, 13 and six yards got Longmeadow across the 50 and down to the 34 with 50 seconds remaining in the game. A 5-yard rush by Terry Norris got the Lancers down to the 29 with 44 seconds left and the first down.

After a failed pass, Nathan Elder took a handoff from Lazarus and went left, but stuck the ball in the gut of Sterritt. The play, a crossbuck, had gained them many yards on the night even up to that point.

"We worked on it a whole lot this week," Longmeadow coach Alex Rotsko said . "We haven't run it a whole this year. We had been running it a little bit too slow. It's a play that you've got to hit quick."

With a huge hole waiting for him, Sterritt took the ball down to the four. Longmeadow was now within field goal distance of the win. After a rush for no gain and a failed pass, Norris brought the ball to the middle of the field on third down.

On fourth and goal from the 2, the cool-handed Sterritt sailed a 20-yard field goal through the uprights to give Longmeadow a good reason to have taken the four hour ride into Boston.

"I went in confident," Sterrit said, who missed a 28-yard field goal earlier in the game. "I was surprised when I missed the [early kick]. The second one was just a chip shot."

After losing their 17-14 halftime lead and getting down 26-17, Longmeadow put the ball on the ground and marched 82 yards for a score in 1:58. The drive, led by the hard-nosed running of Terry Norris (3 carries on the drive, 38 yards), and the 3-yard toss left for Nathan Elder, who was escorted to the end zone by Sterritt, Patrick Scott and Nicholas Zwaan, putting the Lancers on the board for the first time in the half. The Sterritt extra point made the game 26-24.

Doyle came out the gate with two quick dashes for first downs. After that series, a run for lost yardage, a failed pass of the receivers hands, the 5-yard run was not enough.

Doyle's punt rolled down to the 2, but the Lancers fought their way out of safety danger area out to the Knights' 39. A Lazarus fumble gave CM another chance to put it into the end zone, but they could not capitalize on the opportunity.

"Whoever wants it more," Lazarus said, "whoever fights harder wins the game."

LM 7 10 0 10 27
CM 0 14 12 0 26

L - Benjamin Sterritt 1 run (Sterritt kick)
L - Terry Norris 1 run (Sterritt kick)

C - Armani Reeves 11 run (Tom Byrne kick)

C - John Gorman 16 pass from Adam Doyle (Byrne kick)
L - Sterritt 30 FG
C - Reeves 11 pass fromDoyle (kick failed)

C - William Earl 42 run (rush failed)
L - Nathan Elder 3 run (Sterritt kick)
L - Sterritt 20 FG

No. 17 Longmeadow kings of the West

September, 2, 2010
9/02/10
9:48
PM ET
LONGMEADOW, Mass. -- Although Longmeadow High’s Alex Rotsko is entering his 19th season as head coach of the Lancers, this year he finds his team in unfamiliar territory. Last year, the Lancers advanced to the Division 1 Super Bowl for the 13th consecutive year, but lost to underdog West Springfield, 37-30.

“This is the first time in a long time that I can remember starting the season, and we’re not coming in as the number one team in Western Massachusetts,” Rotsko said about the upcoming year.

Previous to last season, Longmeadow had won six of the last seven Western vs. Central Mass. Super Bowls, and posted a 47-game winning streak. While most teams would consider last year’s 10-3 season a success, in Longmeadow it’s a down year.

This year’s group will have the challenge of brushing away the comparisons to the past and creating its own legacy.

“This year, we have a lot more returning starters,” Rotsko said. “So we have a chance to be better if we have the same work ethic and approach things like we did last year.”

The Lancers have a physical group of lineman on both sides of the ball led by senior co-captains Jeff Anderson and Patrick Scott. Both were selected first team All-Western Mass by The Springfield Republican last season and look for the team’s size to be a key.

“I think we have great size,” Anderson said. “If we can work hard, execute, and have proper timing, we can be the best team in the state. “

In the backfield, running backs Chris Williams and T.J. Norris return to start behind the incumbent quarterback, junior Jake Lazarus. Williams and Norris will surely ease the transition of the offense into Lazarus’ hands, as the two rushed for 1,729 yards and 25 touchdowns combined.

The players selected six senior captains (Anderson, Scott, Josh Hurwitz, Ryan Barry, Tyler Metcalf, and Joe Volk) this year, showing their confidence in their peers while taking pressure off of one of Western Massachusetts’ all-time great coaches. Rotsko has won a healthy 82.7 percent of his games while roaming the Longmeadow sidelines. And the Wing-T guru just keeps winning.

The National Football Foundation awarded Rotsko a Chapter Leader Award for the Northeast in 2009. The NFF hands out five of these awards every year to people who they think can carry out their mission of developing young leaders in the game.

“My biggest concern is that football is a good experience for the players,” Rotsko said, while reflecting on his career. “Whether a kid had great success, was accepted by his teammates or learned something from the coaching staff, I want them to take away a good experience and fond memories.”

LONGMEADOW AT A GLANCE
2009 record: 10-3, lost to West Springfield in Western Mass Super Bowl
Coach: Alex Rotsko (19th year, 163 – 34)
Players to watch: T.J. Norris, (957 yards, 11 TDs) Jr., RB/LB, 5-8, 204 lbs.; Chris Williams, (772 yards, 14 TDs) Sr., RB/LB; Jeff Anderson, Sr., LG/DT, 6-2, 255 lbs.; Pat Scott, Sr., LT/DE, 6-5, 235 lbs.; Jake Lazarus, Jr., QB, 6-3, 165 lbs.; Joe Volk, Sr., DB/RB; Josh Hurwitz, Sr., WR/DB.
Strengths: Size, running backs and depth.
Weaknesses: Inexperience, lack of consistency.
Outlook: The Lancers have definitely reloaded this offseason with a lot of young talent. On offense, Rotsko has a plethora of running backs in the backfield to execute the Wing-T offense. Three of the top four running backs return from last year, along with a strong receiving corps led by Hurwitz. Defensively, Longmeadow returns 8 of 11 starters, including All-Western Mass picks Anderson, Barry and Volk. The real challenge for the perennial ‘kings’ of Western Mass will come when they face Eastern Mass opponents Catholic Memorial and Saint John’s of Shrewsbury.

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