(written and photographed for Somerville Patch)
With the school year underway, Somerville Patch will be previewing all eight fall sports programs at Somerville High School. Unsure how the Highlanders did in 2010? Want to know who might impact the upcoming season? Just want to know when the first game is? Read on and find out.
2010 Record: 4-6 overall, 2-2 in the Greater Boston League
The Somerville Highlanders have the misfortune of playing in the same league as Everett (GBL title every year since 1994, six state championships including last season in eight appearances since 2001), one of the best high school football programs in Massachusetts. While many schools have left the GBL for easier opponents, Somerville coach Harry Marchetti says the Highlanders aren’t going anywhere.
“I grew up playing in the GBL, I’ve been coaching in the GBL all my life,” Marchetti said after an Aug. 31 practice. “It’s close to my heart.”
Somerville’s non-GBL games last season were no easier, with the Highlanders taking on three top-five teams in the first four weeks of the season. Despite the sub-.500 record, Marchetti said he liked how his team handled the high level of competition.
“We didn’t back down,” Marchetti said. “We toughened up. We were competitive.”
Hurrican Irene cut short Somerville’s preseason camp, delaying some of the 2011 squad’s maturation. Still, Marchetti said, “I have a good group of kids that are coachable and want to play.”
First 2011 game: Saturday 9/10 at Swapscott, 12:00 p.m.
Home Opener: Friday 9/23 vs. Lincoln-Sudbury at Dilboy Stadium, 6:00 p.m.
Players to watch: Devon Hairston and Zack Sciuto, senior captains and wide receivers/defensive backs; eight combined receiving and rushing touchdowns, plus one Sciuto passing touchdown
“They’re our go-to kids,” Marchetti said. “Not big kids, not overly athletic kids, but just tough, hard-nosed kids who do whatever we ask them.”
Stanley Georges, senior captain and nose tackle/nose guard
“Stanley Georges is just a force on the defensive line,” Marchetti said. “Trying to get him some help.”
Key to the season: Development of the passing game and sophomore quarterback Phoenix Huertas
“We’re going to pass the ball,” Marchetti said, adding: “Hopefully by the end of his sophomore year, he’s going to understand the whole concept. … By his junior or senior year, he should be an all-star player, or hopefully all-scholastic.”
2010 Record: GBL Championship, 3rd place at Nationals
Along with dominating the GBL, the 2010 cheerleading squad qualified for the state championship, where they finished seventh. Their 165 points were enough to earn them a bid to the US Spirit National Cheerleading Competition, where they finished third in the “medium varsity” division.
“We were very proud of our team,” former coach Tara Hurley wrote in an e-mail. “On both days, they performed the best they had all year, nailing their routine. It was just flawless both times.”
Cheerleading coach Michelle Medeiros and assistant coach Leigh Morris both attributed their squad’s GBL championship to strong teamwork and attendance.
“If one girl’s missing from practice, you can’t practice,” Morris said after a Sept. 2 youth clinic at Trum Field. “It’s not like football or soccer, you just throw in another player to fill in. You can’t fill in with cheerleading. You can’t put a base in the air instead of a flyer.”
A risk whenever a team wins a title is that the athletes begin the next season unprepared for the rigors of the season, becoming complacent while other teams train harder to unseat the reigning champions. With seven seniors graduating in 2011, that risk becomes even greater.
“Every year is a rebuilding year, and every year we work our girls the same,” Morris said. “They always end up surprising us and coming out on top.”
“You always have to get the new girls that are just like they don’t know anything,” Medeiros said. “So you just have to start over from the beginning every year.”
First 2011 game: unscheduled
Players to watch: Alisa Feliciano and Tiffany McLaren, seniors, and Erica Martin, junior
“Not only are they all very talented cheerleaders on our team based on their skill, they also have great leadership skills,” Morris said. “Very confident, they do good in school, they stay out of trouble. They basically help us: when we’re not here, they help run the team.”
Key to the season: Integrating freshmen with no prior cheerleading experience.
“We don’t have a strong feeder program like other cities do, where kids start cheering at age 8,” Morris said. “We get girls who start cheering at age 14, so it’s a big gap.”