Classical teammates will play football at UMass Dartmouth

Classical seniors Adam Washington (above) and Matt Gisonno, friends since preschool, will play college football at UMass Dartmouth. (Item File Photo)

LYNN — Classical seniors Matt Gisonno and Adam Washington have been friends since they were in preschool. When they joined the football team at Classical four years ago, they became teammates on the gridiron.

The special bonds they’ve built as friends and teammates won’t come to an end when they graduate from Classical this spring. Gisonno and Washington have both recently committed to play football at Division III UMass Dartmouth, where they’ll remain teammates and rely on each other as they transition from high school to college.

“Me and Matt have been going to school together since preschool,” Washington, a three-year wide receiver who also runs indoor and outdoor track, said. “Going to college together and being able to share that experience with one of my friends is great.”

Washington added, “Knowing that Matt’s there as somebody I can rely on, I can always go to him if I ever need anything. We’re both there for each other. It’s great.”

Gisonno played four years of varsity football as a tight end, defensive end and long snapper. He shared a similar feeling of excitement in being able to play football at the next level with one of his friends.

“It’s like a dream,” Gisonno said. “One of the fears of going to college is making that change. Being able to have a friend that I’ve known since preschool, a friend that’s more like a brother to me, is great. I love it.”

“It’s huge, having that person you can go to,” Gisonno added. “Football’s a big part of my life now. Having someone that I can enjoy that experience and share that bond with is great.”

Both Gisonno and Washington were key pieces that helped lead the Rams to a turnaround season this past fall. As juniors, they were on a Rams team that struggled its way to a 3-8 record. Classical turned things around and finished 8-3 under new coach Brian Vaughan in the 2017 season, an ideal ending for both seniors.

“Having a new coach is difficult and we were unsure what to expect,” Washington said. “Getting to the state playoffs was amazing. Our team was like a family. We all shared that love and that bond, and we got to experience a great season in the end.”

Added Gisonno, “It was insane. I can’t even put it into words. Having three rough first seasons at Classical and being able to turn it around for my senior season, it was awesome. Coach Vaughn helped a lot.”

Washington plans to study business management at UMass Dartmouth. Prior to his commitment to the Corsairs, he also considered a pair of Division II schools in Franklin Pierce and Merrimack.

“They came over and talked to us about their program,” Washington said. “The feel of the team and the way they play football, they’re kind of like a family there too. They have a great school and a great business program. I’m planning on majoring in business management. It was a perfect fit for me.”

After making his decision, Washington was relieved to have his future plans sealed and official.

“It felt good,” Washington said. “I was nervous at first and didn’t know what to expect. After it all kind of settled down I was happy. I was glad to know what my future plans are.”

Gisonno, who also pitches and plays first base for Classical’s baseball team, considered committing to Division III Worcester Polytechnic Institute. He made his choice official after finding a perfect combination between UMass Dartmouth’s football and engineering programs.

“I’ve always wanted to go into an engineering field,” Gisonno said. “I don’t know a lot about the team but I’ve talked to the coaches and I know what type of offense and defense they run. The coaches and players seem like great people.”

Gisonno credited Vaughan for helping him throughout the recruiting process.

“I owe a huge thank you to Coach Vaughan,” Gisonno said. “He did a huge chunk of the work, sending out film and contacting colleges. He really helped out a lot. I also have to thank my family and teammates.”

Both are hopeful to make the Classical football program proud as they begin the next chapters of their careers.

“This shows a lot about how we came together as a family,” Washington said. “When Coach Vaughan took over, I’m not sure any of us were thinking about playing college football. With me and Matt going together, it’s great to see how much Classical has improved over the past four years.”

Gisonno added, “It’s great for the program. Anytime somebody gets the chance to play college football, that’s an outstanding accomplishment.”

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