WINTHROP– First-year coach Jonathan Cadigan and the Winthrop football team are looking to turn the Vikings into a winning program after a disappointing 2-9 record last year.
“I’m excited and happy for how the kids have responded to me,” Cadigan said. “I think it starts with little improvements. We’re just trying to get better every day. It sounds kind of like a coaching cliche but I tell the guys ‘Let’s be the best practicing team we can be each time we take the field.'”
Cadigan and the Vikings have tried to go into each practice this offseason with a better mentality than they’ve carried in the past.
“I tell them that every practice is the most important practice in this organization’s history,” Cadigan said. “We’re practicing different then we have in the past and I’m pleased with the response.
“I think we’re starting to get it,” Cadigan added. “We were young last year and now we’re a little older this year, that experience counts for something. I’m excited, when we get it going we can be a solid football team.”
Winthrop’s offense starts with senior fullback/linebacker Feedle Small, who was voted captain.
“He has been a three-year player for us at fullback and linebacker,” Cadigan said of Small. “In our offense the fullback is the main back. He’s a rugged kid and a tough runner.”
Also voted captains were senior tackle Chris Castro and center Mike McCone.
“Chris is one of our bigger guys but he’s very athletic,” Cadigan said. “He was a tight end for us but he moved to tackle because of injuries. He’s probably one of our best defensive linemen too.
“Mike’s a returning starter on the offensive line at center,” Cadigan added. “He dedicated himself this offseason and transformed his body to look like a real good football player.”
Another player projected to play a key role is wide receiver and cornerback Andrew Love.
“Andrew won our ‘Iron Man’ award this summer which is our physical testing award,” Cadigan said. “He’s been working hard on speed, bench press, broad jump and more. He’s another one of our hard workers.”
Winthrop kicks off the season Friday at home on a refurbished Miller Field against Pentucket.
“I think looking at them last year we are two similar teams that have struggled,” Cadigan said. “It’s not a disrespect to Pentucket or anyone we play, but I’m more focused on us. We’re not going to beat ourselves. It’s going to take a special team to beat us and that’s our approach.
“It’s not about the other team. We want to worry about what we have to do,” Cadigan added. “It’s the old Patriots motto, ‘Do your job,’ and that’s the approach we’re going to take. Football isn’t a sport of instant gratification. I’m excited to see how we’re going to play.”
Looking forward, Cadigan also wants his team to start to realize its own potential this season.
“They’re getting it,” Cadigan said. “It’s a process every coach goes through but we’re moving in a positive direction. We didn’t show up for the first 49 plays in a scrimmage against Beverly and then our last offensive drive we go down and score. They don’t yet quite believe how good they can be after going 2-9. I tell them, ‘Don’t be surprised by your success.'”