By Jess Thomas
The Nashoba Regional High School football team will be looking to move past a tough 2014 season and get back into the playoffs this year.
Third-year head coach Jamie Tucker currently holds a 13-9 overall record through two seasons, and is gearing up for what will be a season-long fight.
“I’m really looking forward to getting our games started this season,” Tucker said. “Our guys know we play in a great league and we’re going to have to bring our A-game every week.”
Tucker will be relying on an experienced defensive line while his offense works to gain familiarity after several starting offensive players from last year’s squad graduated.
The defensive line starters will consist of captain and senior Mike Curtin, junior Bobby Denaro, senior Will Phaneuf and senior Egan Bachtell.
Seniors Jake Benjamin, Tony Kennon, Robby Atwood and Harry Ashline will roam the backfield in the secondary. They all played on varsity last season.
“Eight starters return from our Thanksgiving Day game last season,” Tucker said. “We’ll have to rely on our experience in the defensive line and defensive backfield.”
The team will play a 4-2-5 defensive set, and Tucker noted that this is the second season that Nashoba will play this style of defense, so they will be much more comfortable with it.
Tucker said, “We’ll rely on our size up front as well as the athleticism of (Jake) Benjamin and (Tony) Kennon in the secondary to be successful.”
Tucker realizes that the Chieftains will rely on the defense early on strictly from experience purposes, but he is confident that his offensive players will be ready to go, in the Wing-T offensive set that Nashoba has employed for a number of years.
Nashoba’s quarterback will be Atwood, who saw a handful of snaps at the position last year, but gained valuable time at QB in the last game on Thanksgiving, when last year’s starter Drew Schartner was injured.
“Robby (Atwood) had some good experience last year and he played great on Thanksgiving,” Tucker said. “He’s a cool customer and he, along with all of our quarterbacks, will work hard to get better this first week.”
Atwood will be accompanied behind center by junior Nate Mansour, senior Jake Watkins, sophomore Breese Hill and junior Owen Fay.
Nashoba is also thin on experience at running back, with Greg Gothie and Kraig and Kurt Arsenault all graduating. They took the majority of the snaps last year.
Tucker will look for captain Adam Chiodo, Benjamin and Bachtell to be his starting running core, but did point out that he used many different halfbacks in different situations last year.
The team will have to rely on its experienced offensive line, especially to begin the year.
The offensive line will be Denaro, Curtin, senior Jake Hicks, senior Derek Pasquale, and junior Sam Keith.
Tucker said, “We bring back a lot of experience on the offensive line, which will help us at the start of the season.”
Tucker’s captains this season are slated to be Curtin, Benjamin and Chiodo. Nashoba should be in good hands with these three seniors.
“Mike (Curtin), Adam (Chiodo) and Jake (Benjamin) have been excellent so far in their leadership,” Tucker said. “They each bring a different style to the team, but are all very positive and effective.
“I also look to the whole senior class to bring solid leadership and bring the team together throughout the season,” Tucker said.
Nashoba will work hard to prepare for its first contest on September 11 against Algonquin at home, as they will have their work cut out for them.
“I think our team is in a good frame of mind and very focused,” Tucker said. “The playing experience will certainly help.”