By Jean DePlacido
---- — Sean Smerczynski is officially a Highlander.
The senior from Topsfield, an all-star linebacker who left St. John’s Prep last week for personal reasons, has transferred to the Pingree School in South Hamilton. He was on school’s football field with the rest of his new teammates yesterday for his first day of practice.
“I’ve known (head) coach (Chris) Powers as a youth coach and neighbor my entire life,” said the 5-foot-11, 220-pound Smerczynski, who started at middle linebacker for the Eagles the past three seasons and was a Catholic Conference All-League first team selection. “I’m thrilled to be able to play for him, and I know almost all the players on the team.
“I will never, ever forget the quality coaching I received at St. John’s from coach (Jim) O’Leary and the rest of his staff.”
The Holy Cross-bound Smerczynski played a key role in leading the Eagles to a Division 1 Super Bowl championship last year.
Powers, who has been the Pingree football coach since the inception of the program in 2005, has coached his teams to the NEPSAC Bowl three times and won two New England championships.
“We are very excited that Sean chose us,” said Powers. “I’ve known him a long time, and having him as part of our linebacking group will be good for the others. We’re very young there and while they performed well as freshmen, having a senior there will pay dividends. He will help the others and is a good addition to our program.”
The Highlanders, who plan to keep Smerczynski at middle linebacker, open their season on Saturday, Sept. 21, at Portsmouth (R.I.) Abbey before returning for their home opening the following Saturday against Tilton.
It’s interesting to note that Pingree and St. John’s Prep will scrimmage each other for a second straight season this Monday, the day after St. John’s returns from its preseason camp in Wayne, Maine.
“It worked on well for us because most of the teams in our league play the same style they do,” said Powers of last year’s scrimmage vs. the Eagles. “It’s a good test to see what we have to work on before the regular season begins.”