SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

Sports

November 27, 2013

Rice adds character to Masco's starting lineup

Before Nolan Rice began high school at Masconomet Regional, he played many different positions on the football field.

It wasn’t until his freshman year, however, that he found his niche at tight end and middle linebacker. Two years later after perfecting his craft, he was starting for the Chieftains.

Now in his last football game of his high school career, Rice has become one of quarterback Roby Deschenes’ most reliable targets as Masconomet hosts North Andover (10 a.m.) in their annual Thanksgiving battle tomorrow in Topsfield.

”Nolan isn’t our leading receiver, but he’s an excellent blocker and runs great routes,” said Masconomet head coach Jim Pugh, whose team takes a 6-4 mark into the holiday clash. “He’s made some circus catches over last two years for us.

“He’s a quiet leader who’s well liked and respected by teammates and coaches. Nolan brings a quiet intensity to every game.”

While he isn’t exactly sure of his plans next year, the 17-year-old Rice plans on pursuing the high jump when he gets to college. He’s also thought about taking a year off from school and join AmeriCorps.

”I had a history teacher who recommended it,” said the 6-foot-2, 205-pound Rice. “The Peace Corps is very competitive, but Americorps accepts more younger kids and it’s also domestic. I haven’t made my decision just yet.”

Over the past few weeks Rice has made the move defensively to outside linebacker, which he finds a lot quicker but has made the necessary adjustments.

Since Masconomet’s leading rushers Mike Tivinis (501) and Mackenzie Cashin (299) went down with injuries earlier this fall, the Chieftains have stepped up their passing game with Rice (9 catches, 129 yards) blocking the way.

”It’s hard when your leaders go down,” noted Rice. “At that point it was about the camaraderie and coming together with all of the coaches. It’s almost helped make us closer because we had to work things out together.”

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