PEABODY — The Bishop Fenwick football team may have had a down season last year but if history has anything to do with it, look for the Crusaders to make serious noise in 2018.
Last year, Fenwick finished 4-7 and failed to make the playoffs for the first time since 2012. In 2013, however, the Crusaders went from rags to riches. They ran the table and polished off a perfect 13-0 season with a Division 5 Super Bowl championship.
With a brand new turf field and 16 starters returning, the Crusaders look to have all the pieces in place for an exciting season.
“We always have high expectations so we are hoping to be in the mix for a league title come Thanksgiving and as always our goal is to get back to Gillette,” said coach Dave Woods. “The team has looked great in pre-season, they have come into camp in excellent condition and have been working hard. We saw some good things (a week ago against Peabody) and some things we need to work on. Scrimmaging Peabody (was) a great way for us to see how we match up against higher level teams.”
The Crusaders will be led by captains Keegan O’Connor, a receiver/defensive back, quarterback Cory Bright, a 2-year captain, left tackle Tom MacDonald and receiver/strong safety Derek DelVecchio.
Bright, who missed significant time in 2017 with injuries, has seen limited action (by design) in the preseason.
“Cory is the key to our offense, as most quarterbacks are to each school. Cory being our starter since his freshman year, we do depend on him for a lot,” Woods said. “He looks great and is healthy and is ready for an exciting senior season.”
Bright has the luxury of an experienced offensive line in sophomore center Matt Juneau, senior guard Ian Connor and junior tackle TJ Hazard. Joining Bright in the backfield is junior running back David Cifuentes. Senior George Fiskatoris and sophomore Stefano Fabiano return as slot receivers.
Defensively, while several positions are still up for grabs, Fabiano and O’Connor return as cornerbacks and DelVecchio returns as safety. Sophomores Chrys Wilson and Andrew Wilson return at linebacker and Connor will see action on the line.
An unexpected surprise has been junior transfer and middle linebacker Joe Rivers.
“It’s hard to say who are key players because they are all so valuable and talented,” Woods said. “We also have a transfer Joe Rivers from Malden Catholic, who will contribute on both sides of the ball.
“We have had a few kids really step up so far. We have a lot of talented kids and we expect a lot from them, and they haven’t disappointed us. I think Joe has been a pleasant surprise and he will be one of the better players in our league. Jake Miano has really started to come into his own and is playing great on both sides of the ball. Jake Connolly is another kid who is just a football player and has been a blast to coach and watch develop.”
Fenwick christens its new turf field in its season opener Friday night (7) against non-league opponent Hamilton-Wenham.
“The entire school community is excited about all of the enhancements we have made on campus, including the new turf field and the brand new tennis courts,” said Woods. “We are expecting a huge crowd to come out to see the new field and the start of a new football season. I think our football program is in good hands and should be very strong for the next four years.”