BEVERLY — New Endicott football coach Paul McGonagle and his players made the most of the preseason to gain familiarity with one another. A new coaching staff means a new playbook and new systems so the Gulls faced a learning curve in preseason camp. But now the preseason comes to a close and it’s time to play football.
Endicott begins the 2018 season this afternoon (1) when the Gulls travel to Framingham State for a non-conference tilt.
“Things are looking good,” McGonagle said. “The guys are ready to hit somebody else but at the same time we’re definitely ready for the weather. The first week we had cold and rain and now we’ve had this heatwave. Things are looking good. We’ve had some young kids step and returning vets are who we thought they were. We’re excited for a very tough challenge Saturday.”
Joining McGonagle on the new coaching staff are assistants Rob Matey (offensive coordinator/quarterbacks), Sean Golden (defensive coordinator/defensive backs), Jack Dustin (defensive line/strength and conditioning), Joe Hook (offensive line), Bob Holmes (linebackers), Jimmy Nguyen (wide receivers), Chris Gogolos (assistant defensive line), Cory Gaff (running backs), Jarrod Casey (safeties), Tad Beuchert (kickers/punters) and Sam Hayes (student assistant offensive line).
The Gulls are coming off a down year that saw Endicott go 3-7 in 2017. This year’s team carries high expectations in hopes of a turnaround season. Endicott was picked third in the Commonwealth Coast Conference Preseason Coaches’ Poll, as announced earlier this week. Western New England, the defending CCC Champion, was picked as the No. 1 team in the conference.
McGonagle foresees a competitive CCC this year.
“Western New England’s the returning champ,” McGonagle said. “Until someone knocks them off, they’re the champ. It’s a very tough competition, University of New England’s coming in for the first time so we don’t have a lot of information on them.”
McGonagle said things have gone well during the preseason.
“I think it’s been great,” McGonagle said. “They’ve had a lot of energy just from little things on the sidelines to watching an offensive guy cheering for a defensive guy on a play or vice versa. We try to mix things up in camp.”
Captaining this season’s team are four seniors in strong safety Christian Pizzotti, linebacker William Rivera, defensive lineman Connor Schinderman and offensive lineman Shane Toland.
“They’ve been great, they’ve been positive from day one,” McGonagle said. “They were voted by the players, not by the coaches. They’ve definitely been leaders through the summer, sending letters to the team and stuff like that. They’ve been leaders during camp. I’m very excited about them.”
With two linemen among the four co-captains, the Gulls return a plethora of experience up front.
“There’s a lot of returning veterans,” McGonagle said. “(Offensive linemen) Isaiah Gibbs, Kha-lil Goodman, Shane Toland up front. Shane’s a captain. He’s had a really, really great offseason, preseason and now going into the season. Connor Schinderman’s a captain, (defensive lineman) Ayinde Johnson, a couple returning guys. I’d say our strength is up front which a lot of times in the lower levels can sometimes be the weakest part so I’m really excited about that.”
This season’s schedule includes four non-conference games against Framingham State, Bridgewater State, MIT and Hobart. Endicott dives into the conference portion of its schedule on Week 5 (Sept. 29) when the Gulls visit Curry College.