LYNN– By all almost everybody’s accounts, Classical football had a strange season last fall.
Going into the weekend of playoff pairings, the Rams were 4-3 in Division 3 North, and, to the outside world at least, seemed to be a safe bet to get in.
Only the math didn’t work out in their favor. Their four wins were against teams with two victories among them. And one of their losses — to Revere — really cost them. As a result, Classical was on the outside looking in.
They took their frustration at the vagaries of MIAA math by pounding Wilmington, Marblehead and Beverly in three straight non-playoff games, but then couldn’t dent the scoreboard in a 12-0 Thanksgiving Day loss to crosstown rival English.
“What I liked was that we had a group of kids who didn’t quit when challenged,” coach Brian Vaughan said. “But we lost three games. That’s on us.”
He’s not dwelling on any of that, though. After all, he’s a football coach from way back, and only worries about what he can control. So you’ll hear no complaining from him about imperfections in the playoff system. He’s only interested in imperfections in his team — whatever they may be.
“What gives us fuel is the same thing that always does,” said the third-year coach, who graduated from English and then set what was, at the time, a rushing record at Northeastern. “Our goal is to win football games on Friday nights, and to put the best team out there week after week.
“We want to go 120 miles per hour and always compete,” he said. “We worry about what we can do.”
And, he said, the Rams set their goals high.
On again, Vaughan and the Rams will run a no-huddle spread offense. This year, Danny Gisonno has the arduous task of filling the void left by Keith Ridley, who graduated and is now a red-shirt freshman at Boston College, where he is in the process of being converted to a tight end.
“What I like about Danny is that he’s a natural leader,” Vaughan said. “He’s a good athlete. He can run a little and he can throw. So far, in camp, he’s been doing a good job controlling the offense. He played behind Keith last year, so he’s familiar enough with what we do.”
Vaughan is also counting on senior Kevin Paniagua to lead the way up front as the blind-side tackle for Gisonno. Paniagua “is a leader up front,” said Vaughan. Also factoring into the team leadership is Maurice Sequeira, third on the team in tackles last year. The 6-3, 210-pounder will start at strong safety and outside receiver.
Other starters include Kalvin So, a junior running back; Nico Galeazzi, also a junior runner.
“They’ll be a one-two punch,” said Vaughan, along with Aidan Dow, who might see some action. However, Dow should see more time as a sort of hybrid safety/linebacker, Vaughan said.
He’s also expecting big things out of junior wide receiver Jeff Hill, whom he sees as his deep-ball threat.
“What I like about this team is that we have a lot of three-sport athletes,” Vaughan said. “I think that’s important.”
The Rams got to try their uniforms on this past Friday in an exclusion game at Catholic Memorial, a 42-12 loss, but will begin their season in earnest this Friday at home against Brockton (7:30).
9/6 – at Catholic Memorial (L 42-12, exclusion)
9/13 – vs. Brockton (7)
9/20 – at Danvers (7)
9/27 – at Revere (6:30)
10/4 – vs. Salem (5)
10/11 – vs. Winthrop (7:30)
10/18 – at Gloucester (7)
10/25 – vs. Saugus (7)
11/28 – vs. English (10)