SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

Sports

August 19, 2013

On Football: What to expect as football teams strap on the helmets

Early this morning — before or after you thumbed through this newspaper, depending on when you rise — hundreds of boys around the North Shore were doing jumping jacks wearing football helmets and shorts.

The joy that comes with such a seemingly mundane activity can be explained in three words: It’s football season.

Much work will be done between today’s sessions on the dewy grass and the season opener. Teams will install offenses and defenses, learn techniques, get in shape and discover which underclassmen can contribute. Lots of things can change, but with the unofficial beginning of the fall sports, lets look ahead to what you can expect from the teams on the North Shore.

Since this is the first time the Bay State is employing an official playoff system, lets run through the local teams in order of their divisional placement.

Defending D1 Super Bowl champion St. John’s Prep headlines the field in Division 1 North, a field with 12 large schools. Returning Salem News Player of the Year Johnny Thomas is undoubtedly the best running back in the state, probably in New England, and the Eagles return four of five starters on the offensive line.

Repeating as Super Bowl champs has proven impossible in the immediate area, though Gloucester has done it several times. As the Eagles look to make history, the team in their way would be one that knows plenty about back-to-back Super Bowls: Everett. A titanic match between the Prep and the Crimson could punctuate the D1 North final.

The other local entry in D1 North is Peabody, in their first season under coach Mark Bettencourt. After going 0-10 for the first time ever, there’s no where for the Tanners to go but up. The Blue-and-White started so many young players last season — Ryan Collins, Mike Raymond, Tanner Moquin, Billy Teehan and Cody Wlasuk among them — that it’s easy to imagine improvement simply by virtue of maturity.

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