By Matt Jenkins
---- — Bishop Fenwick football coach Dave Woods might be just as excited about what Nick Bona’s football future holds as the star player himself.
Bona, Fenwick’s do-it-all dynamo who led the Crusaders to the Division 5 Super Bowl in December, accepted a partial football scholarship to Stonehill College yesterday.
“It’s scary to think about (how good Bona can become). I can’t wait to go watch. I’m looking forward to watching him on the kickoff team when he doesn’t have to kick,” Woods said. “When he’s focusing on one side of the ball and he’s really getting individual coaching, I think the sky’s the limit for Nick.
“My response to him (about Stonehill) was that they have no idea what type of player they’re getting. I know they like him, but until they see it first hand ...”
Bona was dominant in all facets of the game this season for the Crusaders. As the team’s quarterback, he completed 78-of-154 passes for 1,407 yards and 17 touchdowns. He also ran for 889 yards and 12 more scores while earning Salem News Player of the Year accolades.
His four-year yardage total was 3,153 yards, which ranks fifth in program history.
But, it’s the defensive side of the ball where Bona really stands out. He registered more than 200 tackles as a linebacker this year and finished his career with 498 tackles, by far the most in school history. No other Fenwick player ever recorded 300 career tackles.
He was also instrumental on kickoff teams, making several tackles on kickoffs and delivering crushing blocks on kickoff returns.
His future with the Skyhawks is on defense, where he will likely play strong safety.
“I think they just graduated one of their safeties and from what the coach said, I can come in and work hard and there’s an open position — and it’s anyone’s position. I’m trying to get on the field as quickly as I can,” the 5-foot-9, 165-pound Bona said.
“I think there’s always a lot of room for improvement. I haven’t played safety since camp my sophomore year, so I know I can get a lot better at safety. I’m ready to learn quite a lot.”
The recruiting process started slowly for Bona, but once it started everything moved quickly.
Bona’s list of final four schools included Merrimack College, Saint Anselm College, Assumption College and Stonehill. He narrowed it down to Stonehill and Assumption and made his final decision after talking it over with his parents on Monday night.
“There was a recruiting night at Tewksbury Country Club with a bunch of colleges there and I had talked to one of the guys from Stonehill. Then, he contacted me and came to school and after that invited me for an official visit,” Bona said. “On Signing Day, February 5, that’s when they offered me a scholarship. After that I went up to Assumption, then Stonehill offered me a better scholarship.”
Once Bona visited the Easton campus, he had a feeling it was the place he wanted to spend the next four years of his life.
“The campus is awesome. It’s a beautiful campus and I like the facilities. They’re doing over the locker rooms and weight rooms and I liked the coaching staff a lot,” Bona said. “I definitely don’t see myself as being out of place there. I think I can play with them.
“It’s very good competition and I think they won their NE10 championship last year, so they’re definitely a good team and the league is very competitive. I don’t think I’m going to stick out as a kid that doesn’t belong. I think I can work my way in (to the lineup).”
Fourteen players have already signed with Stonehill since Signing Day, including four other players listed as defensive backs and one player listed as a defensive back/linebacker.
Pretty much everyone who knows Bona believes he will make an impact at Stonehill sooner rather than later.
“I think it’s perfect for him. From the beginning, I think that was the school he really wanted to go to. It’s a great fit academically, and football it’s a great league. He has a chance to get on the field really early and make an impact,” Woods said.
“I think some of the schools understand it’s a different game (at the college level) and there are a lot of kids out there, but for his height and weight they shied away a little bit. That’s too bad because it doesn’t matter how tall or how big, he can play football. Some schools maybe missed out because of that.
“It’s a perfect fit and I think it’s where he wanted to be,” added Woods. “I told him to be patient and it will definitely work out.”