WOBURN — This year’s Woburn High football team may be the youngest in head coach Jack Belcher’s now three seasons, but he isn’t writing this off as a rebuilding year.
There is a nice blend of returning starters to augment the newcomers so that is a pretty good starting point.
“There’s young guys in place with sophomores that are gonna play Friday nights,” said Belcher. “My three years here I am most optimistic now than I have been. There's veterans who have played, there’s juniors who are inexperienced, but pretty good.”
Woburn returns four starters from on offense from last year’s Thanksgiving Day game while six return on defense.
The three captains are David Langlois, Nick Coviello and Alec Cruz who all played big roles on last year’s 5-6 team and are expected to do the same this season.
Cruz will start at tight end while junior Dylan McLaughlin is the split end. Junior Danny Coveno is the flanker with sophomore Derek D’Abrieo looming in the picture in the receiving corps.
Coviello, now a three-year starter, anchors the offensive line at right tackle. Junior Matt Tilly is on the left side.
The guards appear to be Karin Haddadi, who brings some experience, to the left side and sophomore Kevin Kazadi at right guard.
Jimmy Pappas, a defensive starter a year ago, now slides also over to center.
The quarterback will be new with four-year starter Ryan Qualey (UMass Dartmouth) having graduated.
Senior Logan Wilson, who was a starter all year at corner back, has won the job. According to Belcher, he’s quickly adapted to the signal-caller’s role.
“Logan Wilson gets better every day; he’s real good,” said Belcher. “I am very surprised how quickly he’s advanced. We are running more now than a year ago. Logan is more of a runner than Ryan is. Very shifty, very fast.
“He’s a new starter at quarterback but started the entire year at corner,” Belcher continued. “I don’t think Friday nights are going to intimidate him in any way. He’s pretty cool out there.”
Junior Jaden Simonds is the backup QB.
Langlois has traded in his lineman’s number for a back’s as he will be the fullback after starting at left guard a year ago. Sophomore Derek Baccari is the backup.
Junior Symon Sathler is the starter at tailback with James Taft also in the picture.
On defense the Tanners expect to play a base 4-4.
Junior Thomas Skeffington and James Taft are the ends while Pappas and Coviello are the tackles.
The linebacking crew should be a good group as all three have experience.
Langlois at middle linebacker and Arthur Amaral, on the outside, are back. Cruz moves from defensive end to outside linebacker.
The defensive secondary returns just one starter with McLaughlin back at free safety. Wilson, a returning starter at corner back, is now expected to just play quarterback — for now.
The corners are junior Travis Kanoni and senior Mike Koussa.
Coveno joins McLaughlin at safety and he will be the strong safety.
With a later Thanksgiving there is an extra week to the season. Some teams could play next Friday and later have a bye. Belcher explored those possibilities but things settled with an opening game at Wilmington on Friday, Sept. 13.
Woburn will once again play Burlington the following week (Sept. 20). Although Wilmington and Burlington are both Middlesex League teams, they are Freedom Division members and are treated as non-league games.
Woburn has already scrimmaged Danvers last week and things went well, according to Belcher. Today, the Tanners had a home scrimmage with Mascon-omet.
This Friday (7 p.m.) Woburn will face Peabody in a game scrimmage before beginning the season at Wilmington the following Friday.
Belcher welcomes the extra week of preseason, especially with a young team.
“This will be the youngest team I’ve had,” said Belcher. “We’re playing more sophomores and juniors than we had in ’17 and ’18. But it’s not like we’re rebuilding because they are pretty good and pretty confident and Danvers went well.
“It’s good that we have an extra week with new faces playing Friday nights,” he went on. “But it makes me excited about this year and 2020 and 2021 where hopefully we have kids who should have a lot of football under their belts.”
The coaching staff will also consist of Vin McGrath, who is now the associate head coach, while being co-defensive coordinator with Dan McLaughlin.
They will be joined by Jeff McGrath, Steve Qualey, Dan Mullin and Christian Cesvette. On the freshman level, Adam Lapon, Joe Curran and Joe Taranto will run that program.
Belcher will also call the offensive plays.