MARBLEHEAD — The challenge for the Marblehead football team this season is simple- replacing a class of 18 seniors who led the Magicians in the right direction.
Gone due to graduation are the likes of Nick Carns, Chris Gally and Jack Herman, a core that guided the Magicians to a 9-2 season and a trip to the Division 4 North state tournament.
Leading the way this season as team captains are seniors Tim Cronin (running back/linebacker), Sean McCarthy (wide receiver/safety), Devin Romain (tight end/defensive end) and Declan Rudloff (tackle/defensive end).
“All four are excellent players and excellent people,” coach Jim Rudloff, entering his 11th season, said. “They’re really good kids. The team elects the captains. They’re four highly-regarded kids by their teammates. All four put the work in during the offseason.”
Also returning are seniors Ryan Freiberger (receiver), Dylan Kloker (outside linebacker), Brendan Rowe (lineman) and junior lineman James Maniaci.
Under center, it’s junior Myles Smith’s turn to run the offense.
“Myles was our backup last year so he got some time in the fourth quarters of games because of the success we had,” Rudloff said. “He has some experience. He does a real nice job managing the game. He can throw, he can run. We like a player that can do a little bit of both and he does that for us. He has very good composure, makes good decisions. We’re hoping to see some good things from him.”
Defensively, it’s been a learning process through the preseason. The hope is that as the Magicians learn their game plans, the defense will sharpen itself into a cohesive unit.
“We have a lot of kids playing new positions so there’s a lot of teaching there,” Rudloff said. “There are a lot of kids learning their assignments.
“You’re making sure kids are in the right spots. There’s been a lot of that so far. Lacking size, it’ll be interesting to see how we fare.”
Depth projects to be one of Marblehead’s biggest concerns.
“Not all of last year’s seniors were starters but they provided depth that we don’t seem to have anymore,” Rudloff said. “Of the kids we have left, Tim Cronin and Sean McCarthy were starters, along with Declan Rudloff and Devin Romain. They’re good players and it wasn’t even so much the kids that started that we lost, but also their backups were seniors.”
But, said Rudloff, “We have enough good athletes that we should be competitive.”
Rudloff foresees a competitive Northeastern Conference.
“This is going to be a good year for a lot of teams,” Rudloff said. “Saugus is returning with a good team with a good coach in Steve Cummings. This is the most talented Swampscott has been in a very long time. They have a very good chance of winning the (NEC North). This is the best team Beverly has had since Andrew (Morency’s) been there. The big mystery is Peabody. They have the numbers and athletes. If they can put it together, they’ll be dangerous.
“Across the board, we’re going to face some very good opponents this year.”
Marblehead opens the season Friday (7) at North Andover.
9/13 – at North Andover (7)
9/20 – vs. Gloucester (7)
9/28 – at Saugus (11)
10/4 – vs. Beverly (7)
10/11 – vs. Peabody (7)
10/18 – vs. Revere (7)
10/25 – at Danvers (7)
11/28 – vs. Swampscott (10)