Sports

Revere’s McNeil hopes to close on a winning note

Revere senior Darius McNeil will play the final game of his high school football career Thursday morning. (Item File Photo)

REVERE — Revere senior running back Darius McNeil has only been with the Patriots football program for two years, but it didn’t take him long to make a lasting impact. After bursting onto the scene in his junior year, McNeil has taken his role up a notch this season and carved out a role as Revere’s lead back.

“It’s comforting that they believe in me, but it’s also pretty demanding,” McNeil said of his expanded role this season. “But, it’s demanding in a good way. The team had a lot of expectations for me and I had a lot of expectations for myself, and I feel like I met those expectations this season.”

“He’s a solid kid and a good leader,” said Revere coach Lou Cicatelli. “He’s one of our core guys on offense and he was able to put up big numbers this year despite being one of many guys we use in the wing-T offense we run. He really made leaps from his junior year to his senior year.”

Cicatelli and McNeil both agree that one of the key factors in McNeil’s ability to shoulder the load was the work McNeil put in during the offseason.

“He really did a lot of work in the weight room over the summer, as did all the guys, and it really showed up in his play,” Cicatelli said. “He’s always been a good runner and you could see he had skill, but by adding that power element to his game he was really able to hit another level.”

“We had a really good workout routine over the summer and it helped a lot,” McNeil said. “Our coaches always do a great job preparing us in the offseason and the regular season, and that was no different this year.”

All that offseason work translated into a very productive season for McNeil, where he rushed for 1,177 yards and 8 touchdowns.

But all of those numbers don’t mean much now, as the time has come for McNeil’s final game as both a member of Revere program and as a high school football player. When he suits up for his final game on his home field at Della Russo Stadium Thursday, McNeil knows the emotions will run high.

“I love the game, and I know it’ll be emotional playing one last time,” McNeil said. “But at the same time, I try to play every game with poise and I think I’ll be able to keep things in check. I love competition and going out there to battle with my brothers will be more fun than anything else.”

Cicatelli said McNeil will be missed after Thursday’s game.

“We’ll certainly miss him, and we know he’ll miss us as well,” said Cicatelli. “We had a great conversation about all of this the other day, and we all know it’s going to be tough after the game. But it’ll be a whole lot sweeter with a win Thursday.”

Of course, McNeil and the Patriots would love to go out with a win over rival Winthrop in front of their home fans.

“The rivalry means a lot to all of us, and we’re feeling really good about coming out with another win,” said McNeil. “We just have to execute and do all of the things we’ve done all season and I think we’ll have a great chance. Even with Winthrop’s great defense, I think we have a chance to put up some big yards Thursday.”

Kickoff for Thursday’s game is scheduled for 10 a.m.

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