By Phil Stacey
---- — Prior to entering high school, Mike Favreau had never really worked out.
Playing football at Danvers High as a ninth-grader, though, he began to get used to the weight room atmosphere. Being around that environment his freshman and sophomore years made Favreau realize the conditioning and workout commitments he needed to make to take the next step in his gridiron development.
“I needed to make it my own,” said Favreau, a senior captain for the Falcons who will lead his team into the sparkling New Balance Track and Field at Newell Stadium (10 a.m.) to meet archrival Gloucester in their annual holiday clash.
“Starting after my sophomore season, I started running a lot and was in the weight room all the time,” added the 18-year-old Favreau, a starting defensive end. “That offseason conditioning has really put me where I am today. And I have to give a lot of the credit to the guys who came before me and showed me what it meant to train in the offseason.”
The 5-foot-11, 190-pounder has been able to beat faster opponents with his technique, while getting past bigger, stronger foes with his quickness. A relentless motor keeps him on the field and his work ethic, which head coach Sean Rogers calls “second to none,” is a reason why he’s one of three captains that go out for the coin clip before every game.
“Mike’s the kind of kid where you can say he literally built himself into a football captain,” said Rogers, whose team takes a 7-3 record into the holiday against the 6-4 Fishermen. “He bought into the weight-room program, all the conditioning drills and sacrifice it takes throughout the year. In doing so, he made himself into a captain and one of the best defensive ends in the Northeastern Conference, all in an undersized body.
“There’s been nothing given to Mike in his four years. He’s earned it all.”
Favreau got his first taste of starting his junior year and played well but got worn down and lost a lot of weight. Because of his commitment to the weight room, he’s not only lost much less over the course of this season, 7 to 8 pounds, but is also stronger in the fourth quarter of games.
“When you push yourself, it’s easier to push the other guys,” Favreau said of his captain’s duties. “Knowing I’m prepared helps me focus and help my teammates.”
Rogers loves Favreau’s football IQ; he can show him something, Favreau makes the correction and never makes that mistake again. He also picks up patterns during the course of a game (even those that weren’t in the Falcons’ game plan) and points them out to teammates and his coaches.
A relentless drive to win is what pushes Favreau, he admits. It was that drive, following a blowout loss to Marblehead in the season opener, that helped turn the Falcons’ season around and propel them to six straight victories, a Northeastern Conference South title (Danvers’ first in eight years) and the team’s second-ever playoff berth.
Favreau, who will participate in a frozen turkey toss with fellow captain Anthony Cordoba in Malden this week (sponsored by Kiss 108 FM), would like to play college football — but only if it’s at a school that fits him best academically. Some of the schools he’s looking at include UMass Amherst, UMass Lowell, Stony Brook, New Hampshire, Maine and Worcester Polytech.
“If the best fit for me is a Division 3 school where I can play football, that’s a great add-on for me,” he said. “But I’m not going to the NFL; I’m going to college to get the best education.”
He and his senior teammates would love to pull off their Falcon helmets for the final time Thursday morning and bring a victory home to Danvers with them; they haven’t beaten Gloucester since 2004.
“It would be a great way to cap off our senior season — and a great way to end a great year,” Favreau said.
DANVERS STARTING LINEUP OFFENSE No. Name Year Pos. 52 Tom Quinn Sr. LT 50 Brian Daly Sr. LG 75 Adam Tibbetts Sr. C 54 Dan Cote Jr. RG 70 Kevin Smith Jr. RT 15 Lucas Lentine Sr. TE 20 Cris Valles Jr. WR 9 Nick Andreas Jr. QB 27 Chris Behen Jr. FB 16 Anthony Cordoba Sr. RB 21 Alex Valles Sr. RB DEFENSE 51 Mike Favreau Sr. DE 58 Jason Tibbetts Sr. DT 72 Drew Salvo Jr. DT 73 Skylar Falite Jr. DE 40 Andy Curtin Sr. SLB 56 Joe O'Donnell Jr. MLB 35 Sam Vitale So. WLB 33 Quinn Holland Fr. CB 6 Dan Lynch So. CB 31 Richie Martino Jr. SS 29 Matt Andreas Fr. FS GLOUCESTER STARTING LINEUP OFFENSE No. Name Year Pos. 56 Jason Lattof Sr. LT 51 Filippo Zappa Sr. LG 72 Robert Gwynn Jr. C 53 Jack Goss Sr. RG 79 Drew Shairs Sr. RT 44 Connor Adkins Sr. TE 28 Mike Decaro Jr. SE 31 Conor Harris Sr. WB 40 Jon Good Sr. FB 2 Jordan Pallazola Sr. RB 9 Ian Kennedy Sr. QB DEFENSE No. Name Year Pos. 18 David Dimaio Sr. DE 79 Drew Shairs Sr. DT 62 Jacob Emerson Soph. DT 69 Nick Sanfilippo Jr. DE 40 Jon Good Sr. LB 2 Jordan Pallazola Sr. LB 11 Terrence Lane Jr. LB 28 Mike Decaro Jr. CB 38 Alex Enes Soph. CB 31 Conor Harris Sr. S 14 Eli Horne Sr. S