Editor's note: This article is part of ESPNBoston.com High Schools' preseason football capsules.
This preseason at Lincoln-Sudbury Regional High, every sprint, stretch and warm-up routine is accompanied by a chorus of three letters:
D, C and L.
The Warriors have wheezed out those letters during practice to signify their season’s-long goal of winning the Dual County League. Last season, the team braved through injuries to several senior running backs, as well as the evolution of then sophomore quarterback Matt Cahill, and still finished with a 5-6 record.
The 6-foot-1, 195-pound quarterback did not have a receiver on the team with a reception entering last season. Now, he has talented tight end Mike Tocci, a revamped backfield and the rest of the junior class supporting him.
“I feel like we’ve brought back a lot of quality guys and a bunch of talented skill players,” Cahill said. “We lost a lot of offensive lineman, but the guys we’ve seen in the preseason have looked really good.”
Offensive tackle Zach Smerlas will try to keep the rush off Cahill in passing situations, as well as move the pile in the Wing-T-based offense. Smerlas is one of less than a handful of senior starters for the Warriors, but he will surely be a handful for opposing coaches. The 6-foot, 270-pound co-captain benches 370 pounds and is one of the best wrestlers in Massachusetts.
L-S head coach Tom Lopez believes that he is taking strides towards being one of “the best defensive tackles in the state”, and will continue to draw double-teams on the interior line.
The real test for the Warriors this season is experience. While the team started seven sophomores a year ago, there are 10 seniors on the roster, leaving plenty of holes to be filled by underclassmen.
“I think the first couple weeks there will be a learning curve there,” Lopez said. “I think that as soon as the get comfortable with it — and hopefully they will stay healthy – we’ll be a pretty good team at the end of the year.”
The Warriors will look to match up against defending league champion Acton-Boxborough, as well as Westford and Waltham in a balanced league. Until then, they will still be yelling out the initials: D-C-L.
LINCOLN-SUDBURY AT A GLANCE
2009 Record: 5-6
Coach: Tom Lopez (227-97-5, 32 years)
Players to watch: Zach Smerlas, Sr., RT/NT, 6-0, 270 lbs.; Patrick Mullen, Jr., G/LB, 5-9, 210 lbs.; Mark Vogel, Sr., LT, 5-11, 230 lbs.; Marc Pace, Sr., 5-7, 155 lbs.; Matt Cahill, Jr., 6-1, 195 lbs.; Ricky Antonellis, Jr., LB/FB, 5-10, 175 lbs.;Hassan Reed, Jr., RB/DB
Strengths: Junior Class, Defense, Offensive Line
Weaknesses: Senior Leadership, Inexperience, Size
Outlook: The Warriors need to work on their comfort level throughout the preseason. Most of the returning defensive starters are switching spots from last year in order to cater to the talents of younger players. However, the junior and sophomore classes are very strong. While some of the bigger names will overshadow defensive starters like Ricky Antonellis, Patrick Mullen and Marc Pace, the depth of the team is the key. Smerlas will be the voice of both the offensive and defensive line, and will look to drive coaches in the DCL crazy.