WINTHROP — New Winthrop High School football coach Jonathan Cadigan feels there’s plenty to be excited about as his first season at the helm of the Vikings program quickly approaches.
Cadigan, who was hired to replace former Vikings coach Sean Driscoll in March, takes over a Winthrop that underwent no shortage of struggles last season and finished 2-9.
But with a new season on the horizon, everyone’s on the same boat with a clean slate and Cadigan’s eager to get the program moving in the right direction.
“I’m sure it’s the same for a lot of programs, especially for us with how last year went,” Cadigan said. “We’re excited to get out there. My coaching staff, four out of the five guys were captains here. They’re excited to be back. The players are excited and there’s a lot of excitement to get this program back to where it was. We’re just excited to get back out there.
“I’m sure everybody’s excited to get back out there,” Cadigan, a physical education teacher at Winthrop High, said. “We’re no different. I think how you ended up the year before, especially with us losing on Thanksgiving, gives you a little more motivation to get back out there and get that taste out of your mouth. We have a home schedule this year, which we haven’t had in a while. There’s a lot of excitement and now it’s time to get rolling.”
Like the bulk of his coaching staff, Cadigan’s no stranger to the Winthrop football program. A Winthrop High alum, Cadigan played four years of varsity football and graduated from the school in 2001. He returned to the program in 2003 as an assistant coach and has been the defensive coordinator for the past 10 seasons.
Cadigan has made the most of the offseason by getting his incoming freshman players acclimated and up to speed with the program.
“I used the offseason as a big opportunity to get the freshmen involved,” Cadigan said. “When they show up on the first day of practice, they’re going to know the routine and the guys on the team because they’ve been around all summer. It’s one of those things where I’ve kind of made it a point to get the younger guys involved more. When they show up one day one, they’re not shellshocked. That might happen anyways but we want to lessen that.”
Like most other area teams, Winthrop kept a busy schedule during the summer. The players participated in an offseason conditioning program that kept them running and lifting weights four days a week. The Vikings also played in a handful of 7v7 tournaments, including the Marblehead league and the Northeast 7v7 East Regional at St. John’s Prep.
“Football used to be a sport where you just worked out and you didn’t do stuff like this,” Cadigan said. “When I started coaching, there used to be like one (7v7) tournament. Now it’s like there’s a tournament every weekend. There’s pros and cons to it. It’s not real football. The pros are the team really comes together. You find things out about the kids and the team, good or bad. I was happy with how we responded to adversity in 7v7. We benefitted as a program by attending these events.”
Cadigan was pleased with attendance throughout the summer.
“Attendance has been great since I took over,” Cadigan said. “I was a little worried with work schedules and things like that. We were just as good with attendance over the summer as we were during the school year so I was happy about that.”
Winthrop begins its preseason practice schedule Friday. From the early going, Cadigan has stressed the importance of practice to his players and said he’ll continue doing so as the season begins.
“We talk about goals all the time,” Cadigan said. “My number one goal for this team is to be the best practice team we can be. We put a lot of emphasis on that when we talked during the summer. I’m excited to see all those things we’ve implemented come into play. Practice for us will be the most important thing we can do. If we’re good as a practice team, it’ll carry over into Friday nights.
“Friday’s a big day for us,” Cadigan said. “It starts to put into motion what we want to do as a team.”