- Scott Barboza, ESPN Staff Writer
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This isn’t a ‘90s Nickelodeon show. It’s not Jeff Bridges searching for his lost Creedence tapes.
In Brian Lee’s realm as the head of King Philip football, just about everybody is a “Dude.”
“I guess you could say we’re a team of Dudes,” senior Brett McEvoy said while chuckling Wednesday. “The team is The Dude.”
While it might be the colorful (and we mean that frankly, evidenced by Lee’s frequent choice of footwear – a pair of banana peel yellow Crocs) coach’s means of expressing reverence for one of his players, it also speaks to the kind of athletes the No. 24 Warriors have had in recent memory.
Who is that KP football player? Typically, they’re tough. Rugged, really. In more instances than not, they play on both sides of the ball. It’s a result of what Lee expects from his players.
“There are only so many players that can play,” said McEvoy, an inside linebacker and tight end. “We’re not expected to play both ways, but the best players are the ones that’ll get on the field.
“We don’t think about it that much, we’re just doing what we’re told to do.”
McEvoy, like a number of his KP teammates, have been around as well. He’s a three-year starter, somebody that Lee terms to be a quarterback of the defense.
He has help as well. Along with fellow seniors Joe Johnston, Christian Flaherty and Mike Cooke, Lee has a cabal of experienced players he has come to trust on both sides of the ball.
“It’s more out of necessity,” Lee said of his two-way players. “We’re a bigger school, but we only have about 50 kids out for varsity football. Really, no matter what your numbers are, you end up getting about eighteen or twenty bodies on field a night. Your team really focuses on those players, so you’re using them over and over.
“They have to be a piece in the machine, you don’t have other options.”
Still, of that multi-talented group, that’s something else that is found in these players: a sense of accountability. McEvoy, a preseason ESPN Boston All-State linebacker, understands that principal. He’s from a military family. His father, Matt, (a Mansfield alum!), is a Marine Corps veteran and his brother, Ben, joined the Marine Reserve earlier this year.
Brett McEvoy has also considered the services while hoping to attract the attention of college football recruiters.
“He’s a ‘tweener for colleges,” Lee said of the 6-foot-1 McEvoy, “he’s not quite big enough yet. He’s not going to be your 6-foot-4 linebacker, but he’s a great player for us. He can really play.”
In other words, he’s a Dude – with a capital ‘D.’
KING PHILIP AT A GLANCE
Coach: Brian Lee (9th year, 52-35)
Last season: 10-1
Returning Starters: 12 (six offense, six defense)
Key Returnees: Brett McEvoy, Sr. LB/TE, 6-1, 185lbs.; J.J. Dillon, Sr. QB, 6-0, 175 lbs.; Joe Johnston, Sr. RB/SS, 6-1, 195 lbs.; Christian Flaherty, Sr. RB/DE, 6-1, 180 lbs.; Jason Wholley, Sr. DB/E.
Strengths: Experience at skill positions and key defensive positions.
Weaknesses: Depth; inexperience on offensive/defensive lines.
Overview: Lee loves to run the ball, and senior quarterback J.J. Dillon (7 TD passes in 2012) knows that. But that hasn’t prevented the head coach from developing a strong trust in Dillon, who’s been the starter for the better part of the last two seasons. Lee has – with increasing confidence and leniency – allowed Dillon a greater hold of the offense, allowing the senior to make calls at the line of scrimmage and an increasing number of “check-with-me” plays. “We were giving him little bits to focus on and adding little things here and there week by week,” Lee said of Dillon’s sophomore campaign. “Last year, with everything he does, watching film and trying to understand opposing defenses, we were able to do more with him. He’s a smart kid.” With that being said, expect even gaudier numbers this season from Joe Johnston, who led the Warriors with 1,361 rushing yards and 18 touchdowns in 2012 and whose a year bigger and stronger. Also, look for junior Mark Glebus to have an increased role in the backfield. On defense, well … You can always expect the kitchen sink from the Warriors coaching staff who are content to bring pressure from any and all angles in any and all situations.