Greater Boston teams that demand attention
Here's a preseason look at the teams to watch in the Boston area:
Football -- Walpole
Sure, the Rebels went 11-2 and made the Super Bowl last year, and Division 2 Player of the Year Ryan Izzo is returning to the backfield, but the team expects nothing less than a full-scale battle to make the postseason. "It's going to be a real challenge," says head coach Danny Villa. "Just because we had some success last year doesn't guarantee us anything, and I think our senior leaders understand that." Teams will be gunning for Walpole, and opponents will take special care to slow the Rebels' running game. Good luck with that, as Izzo might be the most talented back in the state. As a sophomore last year, he rushed for 2,013 yards and 33 touchdowns, and he showed the ability to take over games at the most critical moments. "When game time comes, he switches it up to a different level," says Villa. "He's got vision like you can't coach, and he's a tough guy to bring down." Providing Izzo with running lanes will be senior tackle Adam Riegel and the offensive line, while receiver Ryan Collins and quarterback Sonny Masamateo will stretch the field through the air and make teams pay for over-committing to stop the ground game. On defense, senior Chris Cameron plays a hybrid end/linebacker/safety role and brings pressure from all angles, and linebacker Mitch Savini is strong against the run and the pass. Taken together, it seems like Walpole has the blueprint for another Super Bowl season.
Field Hockey -- Falmouth
Falmouth went 15-0-3 in the regular season last year and made it to the quarterfinals of the Division 1 South Sectional before being knocked off by Wellesley. Goalie Shaylyn Callahan was a revelation in net, and the junior returns this year to try and take the Clippers to the next level. Providing the offense will be junior Virgynia Muma, a league All-Star who will be counted on to produce some of the firepower lost with the graduation of Hilary Burns, the Atlantic Coast League's leading scorer last year.
Boys' Golf -- St. John's (Shrewsbury)
The Pioneers won their third consecutive Division 1 state championship last year, and two of the team's top players return to make another run at the title. Seniors Matthew Creamer and Donald Adams were key cogs last season, shooting 77 and 78, respectively, in the state tournament to help clinch the win for St. John's. The duo will replace departed grads Taylor Fontaine and Connor Wentzell at the top of the card, and senior Evan Degnan is also expected to step forward and deliver a solid season.
Girls' Soccer -- Peabody
The Tanners were 17-1 last season entering the sectional round of the playoffs, earning the No. 2 seed in the South. The postseason stay was short-lived, however, as they were bounced by Winchester, 2-1, in the quarterfinals. This year's team is hoping to finish the season on a better note, and Peabody has the talent to make it happen. Senior Alyssa Manoogian and sister Emily, a sophomore, are gifted offensive players, and senior captain Erika Digiacomo led the team with 28 goals last season.
GIRLS' SOCCER -- BEVERLY
Made it to second round of sectional last year, and senior Daryl Powell is back.
BOYS' SOCCER -- DUXBURY
Dragons went 9-4-5 last year, and Patriot League All-Star Pat Charland returns for junior season.
GIRLS' CROSS COUNTRY -- HAVERHILL
Hillies finished fourth at states last year and the top three runners are all underclassmen.
FOOTBALL -- CARDINAL SPELLMAN
After 1-9 season, expect new coach Ron St. George to make his mark.
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