BILLERICA – It has been quite the decade for the Boys Winter sports programs at Shawsheen Tech. Between the three programs (Wrestling, Basketball, Hockey, and Swimming), the Rams have brought home a total of 17 Commonwealth Athletic Conference (CAC) titles, to go along with 17 State Vocational titles.
The majority of the league titles for the boys have come from the Wrestling and Hockey programs, with the grapplers having won CAC titles in all ten seasons of the decade, while Hockey has captured six league titles. On the vocational championship side, the Wrestling team had captured nine titles, followed by four titles each for Hockey and Swimming.
Through all of these championships, tournament berths and other fine accomplishments for these teams through the years, there have obviously many fines athletes who have led the way, and many of those have come from Tewksbury and Wilmington and we here at the Town Crier wanted to honor those local athletes as part of our ‘All-Decade Teams’.
All selections below have been made solely by this reporter after covering each of these teams for the past ten years. As with any All-Star team, there were some tough omissions, and of course, we limited our selections to Wilmington and Tewksbury residents, meaning that many talented athletes from Billerica, Burlington and Bedford were not considered. With that being said, I feel like each athlete represented here is very well deserving of their selection.
The Shawsheen Wrestling team had a tremendous decade under the direction of head coach Mark Donovan. Donovan picked up both his 400th an 500th career wins during the decade, all while leading the Rams to an overall record of 198-36, while competing against some of the top teams in the entire state as the school’s only Division 1 program. In the CAC, he guided the team to ten straight league championship titles, nine State Vocational titles and one State Vocational runner up finish.
In the state tournament, he coached 11 Division 1 Sectional Champions (three of them multiple times), five Division 1 state champions ( one multiple), four All-State Champions (one multiple), three New England Champions (one multiple) and had three different wrestlers finish a season undefeated, all compiling between 52-55 victories.
John Baker (Wilmington) – Baker capped off a fine career with tremendous senior season in 2012, finishing second at the D1N Sectional Tournament, third at the Division 1 States and fourth at All-States before going 1-2 at All New England to cap off a 47-13 season which also included a state vocational title and being named Outstanding Wrestler at the vocational tournament.
Omar Eldaly (Wilmington) – Undoubtedly the top local wrestler of the decade, and with the exception of the incomparable Jake Ferri of Billerica, and Alex Najjar, was probably Shawsheen’s top wrestler overall of the decade. Eldaly was a three-time sectional champ, and finished as a runner up in states, All-States and All New England as a junior. He capped his brilliant career as a senior in 2019 by winning all three of those titles at 220 pounds.
Andrew Companeschi (Wilmington) – The 2010 graduate only qualified for one season of the decade, but what a season it was, as he finished with a record of 50-3 at 215 pounds, including a state vocational championship, an All-State championship, a sectional championship, a third place finish at states and a fourth place finish at New Englands. Overall, he finished his career with 109 wins.
Nick Lavino (Tewksbury) – The 2019 graduate was a place finisher in the sectional tournament for three straight seasons at two different weight classes, taking sixth at 120 pounds as a sophomore, fourth as a junior at 126 pounds, and finally fifth as a senior, once again at 126 pounds.
Ryan Powederly (Wilmington) – Another three time sectional place finisher for the Rams, taking fifth as a sophomore at 120 pounds, fifth as a junior at 126 pounds, and fourth as a senior at 138 pounds in 2015. He also took fifth at the Division 1 state tournament as a junior.
Tom Strow (Wilmington) – A four-year member of the Rams squad, Strow finished his career with over 100 wins. He finished sixth at the sectional tournament as a freshman, third as a sophomore second as a junior and then fifth as a senior in 2018, He also earned a fifth place finish at the Division 1 state tournament as a junior and won the championship at the Sons of Italy Tournament as a sophomore at 138 pounds.
Cody Sughrue (Tewksbury) – Another four-year member of the Rams varsity squad, who also finished with over 100 career wins, Sughrue was fifth in the sectional tournament as a sophomore, third as a junior and fourth as a senior in 2018; 20016, fifth at sectionals, 2017, third at sectionals, 1-2 at states; 2018, fourth at sectionals.
Billy Tamboli (Tewksbury) – Had a sensational senior season in 2016, earning a fourth place finish at sectionals, fourth in the Division 1 tournament and won one match at the All-State tournament at 160 pounds.
Efrain Torres (Tewksbury) – Torres was a four-year member of the Rams varsity squad, but took his talents to another level in his senior season, when he earned a fourth place finished at sectionals and a seventh place at states.
It was quite the decade for the Shawsheen Boys Swimming team. While they could not quite match their female counterparts ten state vocational titles, they did pretty well for themselves, capturing three titles during the decade in 2016, 2018 and 2019. They also won a third straight title in 2020, but that doesn’t qualify for this decade.
One thing is for sure is that they have gotten themselves off to a fast start for the decade of the ‘20’s.
Derek Costello (Wilmington) – Costello, who will enter his senior season at Shawsheen in the fall, will be looking to add to an already great legacy with the Rams, as he is the current record holder as part of both the 200-freestyle relay team and the 400-freestyle relay team.
Robert Danehy (Tewksbury) – Danehy helped the Rams to a dramatic win at the 2018 State Vocational Meet, as part of the 400-freestyle relay team which won the last event of the day to clinch the meet for the Rams with a time of 3:54.42.
Damien Hadden (Tewksbury) – Like Costello, Hadden still has one more season to make more history for the Rams. The rising senior has already left quite the mark for the Rams however, as part of the record breaking 200 medley relay and 400 relay teams at the 2019 state vocational meet. He also took first place in the 100 backstroke at the same meet.
Alex Menard (Tewksbury) – A multi event star for the Rams, Menard capped a brilliant career with a dominant senior season in 2014, going undefeated in both the 50 freestyle and 100 backstroke to capture the state vocational title in both events.
Zack Morris (Wilmington) – A key member of the Rams Mixed 200 Freestyle Relay team, raced his way to several victories during the 2019 season as part of the group, while also excelling as an individual in the 100 backstroke, the 50 freestyle and the 200 medley relay.
Cole Privetera (Tewksbury) – A four year member of the Rams varsity, Privetera shined as a member of the 200 medley relay team, as well as putting up points for the Rams in the 1-meter diving event, giving them a key advantage in many meets.
It was an up and down decade for the Shawsheen Boys Basketball program in terms of wins and losses, as the Rams battled their way to five tournament berths during the decade while competing in a very challenging CAC Large School division.
The Rams picked up three state tournament wins during the decade, including a fantastic run to the Division 2 North Sectional semifinals in 2019, when they won the program's first CAC Large title since 2008.
The Rams started the decade under the direction of Bob Hodnett, who coached the team in 2010 and 2011, posting an 11-29 record. Hodnett had coached the team since 2006, twice winning CAC Coach of the Year during that time period.
Bendel took over in 2012 and coached the team through 2019, posting an 83-83 record, including the aforementioned five state tournament berths. Bendel was CAC Coach of the Year in 2015 and 2019. The 2019 squad's 19 wins were the second most in school history, behind only the 1983 team, which won 20 games.
Overall, the Rams posted a record of 94-112 for the decade.
Casey DeCost, Guard, (Tewksbury) - DeCost capped off a great career with the Rams with a spectacular senior season in 2019 earning a spot on the Lowell Sun First Team. He took his game to another level during the post season that year. He scored 16 second half points to lead the Rams to a first round win over Wilmington, and followed that up with 15 points in a quarterfinal win over Hamilton-Wenham and a team high 19 in the loss to Weston in the semifinals.
Joe Spinale, Guard, (Wilmington) - A four-year starter for the Rams, he led the team in scoring in his junior year of 2012 with 12 ppg. and was voted to the CAC All-Star team. He came back even stronger in his senior year, earning Lowell Sun Honorable Mention honors, with the highlight of his season coming with a 32-point effort in a win over Minuteman.
Joe Mason, Guard, (Tewksbury) - Mason was the team's second leading scorer as a junior, despite missing the last six games due to injury. He came back strong as a senior in 2014, earning a spot on the CAC All-Star team. He capped off his career with 19 points on Senior Night at Shawsheen.
Joe Tower, Guard, (Tewksbury) – In his senior season of 2012, Tower helped lead the Rams to their first state tournament berth since 2008. A captain that season, he continued has fine play in the playoffs, scoring 20 points and adding ten rebounds in the Rams first round loss to Hamilton-Wenham.
Ryan Donnell, Forward, (Wilmington) - In his senior season of 2016, led the Rams to a 12-6 record and the number three seed in the D3N Tournament. A four-year starter at forward, he helped lead the Rams to two tournament berths, including a first round win over South Boston in his junior year.
Steve Reynolds, Forward (Wilmington) - In his senior year of 2012, Reynolds helped lead the team to their first tournament berth since 2008. A captain that season, Reynolds scored seven points and had 11 rebounds in the Rams tournament loss to Hamilton-Wenham.
Jared Rizzo, Forward (Tewksbury) - Helped lead the Rams to the CAC title in his senior season of 2019. Had an outstanding post season for the Rams, scoring 23 points, with 14 rebounds and four blocks in a quarterfinal win over Hamilton-Wenham and scoring 18 pints in the Rams first round win over Wilmington.
Another team that had a great decade of success at Shawsheen was the Boys Hockey team. While not quite as dominant as Wrestling or Girls Swimming, the Rams, under the direction of coach Chuck Baker, continued their tradition of being one of the most successful and consistent programs in the state, with ten consecutive tournament berths, six CAC titles, four second place finishes and four vocational championships.
The Rams also earned two trips to the Division 3 North Sectional semi-finals (2010 and 2013) and one trip to the D3N finals (2011). Overall, the Rams posted a record of 136-19-17 for the decade.
Mike DiGiorgio, Forward, (Tewksbury) – Along with Joe Sodergren of Tewksbury and Tom Price, their line produced 411 points combined over their careers with the Rams. A captain in both his junior and senior year of 2012, he was part of a group that never lost a CAC game, going 46-0-2 over four seasons. Finished his career with over 140 points, included 27-25-52 totals as a junior in 2011. Was a two-time CAC MVP and a two Lowell Sun First Team All-Star.
Brandon Gentile, Forward, (Wilmington) – A team captain in his senior year of 2014, Gentile led the team in scoring that season with 14-16-30 totals, and was selected to the CAC All-Star and All-League teams. Had 8-6-15 totals as a junior.
Joe Sodergren, Forward, (Tewksbury) - Combined with DiGiorgio and Price for that fantastic top line for the Rams. Scored over 140 points in his career including 26-30-56 totals as a junior, and was co CAC MVP along with DiGiorgio that season. A captain in his junior and season of 2012. Scored the game winning goal against Lowell in the sectional semifinals in his junior year to propel the Rams into the finals.
Ryan Capraro, Defense, (Tewksbury) - The 2013 graduate was the third leading scorer on the teams that season, while also being a shut down defenseman, finishing the season with 7-6-13 totals. That season he also scored the game winning goal in the third period to give the Rams a 1-0 win over Lowell Catholic in the sectional quarterfinals.
Jimmy Gautreau, Defense, (Wilmington) - The 2014 graduate was a four-year member of the Rams varsity squad and helped lead the Rams to the state tournament each season, anchoring a defense that routinely shut down the opposition. Helped lead the Rams to the vocational finals as a junior.
Ryan Maskell, Goalie, (Wilmington) – Lots of great competition for this spot, including Kam Neault (2020) and Jack Stone (2016). But Maskell gets the nod after leading the team to vocational titles in 2010 and 2011 and to the D3N finals in his senior year of 2011. He was outstanding in the sectional final, making 43 saves during a loss to Marblehead, and led the CAC that season with a 2.69 GAA.