By Michael James LeClair
The Nashoba Regional football team is back on the gridiron and ready to pick up where it left off back in April.
The Wolves, under second-year head coach Andy LeBlanc finished their abbreviated 2020 Fall 2 season with an undefeated 5-0 overall record. With COVID-19 restrictions last year, there was no postseason in Massachusetts’ high school football, so the Wolves didn’t have the opportunity to continue their season beyond the team’s final contest against Tantasqua Regional back in April.
Last Friday evening, Nashoba was back on the turf as it played host to Doherty in the squad’s final of three preseason scrimmages. The Wolves had previously matched up with Concord-Carlisle and Oakmont Regional.
“We’re excited. I think we’ve had a great camp. We’ve gotten better with each scrimmage,” said Coach LeBlanc following the scrimmage against Doherty. “I just told my team a couple minutes ago that now we’re on to Grafton. It’s all about preparing for Grafton from this point on.”
Just four months after putting the finishing touches on last year’s campaign, LeBlanc and his staff are hard at work in what has been the shortest offseason in the history of the program.
Former Head Coach Jamie Tucker had chosen to take last season off, with LeBlanc stepping into the role for the season. Tucker announced over the summer that he was stepping down permanently and LeBlanc will remain as the Head Coach.
“We’re ready to go. We’ve figured out our personnel for the most part and who our backups are and we’re ready,” said LeBlanc. “With the scrimmages, it’s about player evaluations. We put together a limited game plan and try to execute the best we can. We’ve seen some positives that we can build off and continue to improve.”
Nashoba officially kicks off the fall 2021 season on Friday, Sept. 10 with a road contest against Grafton High School. Back in March, the Wolves opened the season with a 13-8 victory over the Gators.
With just one captain on the roster, this year’s Nashoba team will be led by senior workhorse running back and linebacker Connor Salmon. Following Friday’s scrimmage, Salmon shared his thoughts on the 2021 fall season.
“We’re definitely excited and looking forward to this season. We lost a lot of important guys from last year, but we have a lot of talented young guys coming up,” said Salmon with a smile. “We’re doing pretty good so far. Hopefully we can continue to build off the positives and have a strong season.”
The Wolves graduated seven seniors from last year’s team, including Josh DiGeronimo, Henry King, Joey Sabourin, Javier Acosta, Kenny Frommer, Ethan Revell and Aidan Slater. Despite graduating some key talent on both sides of the football, Nashoba should be a team to be taken seriously again this year.
Salmon will see plenty of action out of the backfield in the Nashoba Wing T offense while quarterback Michael Guthrie will get the chance to show off his arm with the departure of last year’s quarterback DiGeronimo.
“Being a captain of this team is very important to me,” said Salmon. “It’s my last year here in the program and I want to make it a good one and try to be the best leader I can be.”
The offensive line will be anchored by returning players Liam Kelly, Owen Liam and Brody Flannery. Offensive weapons James Borsari, Cameron Hill and Thomas Keufler will also play a major role in the success of the Wolves this fall.
Other key players to keep an eye on this fall are Ben Silvester, Cole Williams, Malone Duhain, Matt Guthrie, Georgio DiDominico, Jason Ladd and Liam Olsen.
In five games last season, Nashoba outscored the opposition 87-44 limiting the opponent to an average of just over eight points per game.
Following Nashoba’s trip to Grafton to begin the season, the team returns home for back-to-back games. The Wolves will celebrate their home opener on Sept. 17 against Algonquin Regional followed by a date with visiting Leominster High on Sept. 24.
In addition, Nashoba will renew its Thanksgiving rivalry with a matchup with Turkey Day foe Clinton. The two teams will square off for the 14th time on Thanksgiving morning at 10 a.m. at Nashoba Regional High School. The last time the two teams met was Thanksgiving morning 2019. On that day, Nashoba shut out the Gaels 34-0 in Clinton for Nashoba’s fourth straight win on Thanksgiving.