BILLERICA – The rest of the Commonwealth Athletic Conference may be getting a little tired of the same old story, but for the Shawsheen Tech Golf team, history repeating itself has been working out very well for the past decade and a half, and last season was no exception.
It was another banner season, literally, for the Rams in 2019, as for the 15th season in a row, they captured the CAC title, posting a perfect 11-0 record within the league (12-4 overall), while also earning a second place finish at the CAC League Championship Match and a fourth place finish at the Massachusetts Vocational Tournament.
The Rams will of course be looking to make it 16 straight titles this season, although the circumstances will be a little different with only ten matches overall, and no post season tournaments due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Also, with three CAC teams (Northeast, Minuteman and Greater Lawrence) not competing this season, the Rams will have a much more condensed schedule, as they will face Greater Lowell and Nashoba Tech twice each and Essex Tech and Lowell Catholic three times each.
Nevertheless, the goal remains the same for the Rams, and that is to capture another league crown. With a very strong group of returning players, the Rams look to be in very good position to make it 16 straight, but coach Tom Struthers, who has guided the Rams to each of the past 15 league titles, is warning against overconfidence.
While the Rams did not lose a lot of players off of last year’s team, they did lose team captain Brady McFadden of Tewksbury, along with Andre Comeau.
“We had a great season last year and a big reason for that was Brady,” Struthers said. “Brady was a kid who just practiced and listened to instruction during his four years here and he just got better and better,” Struthers said. “So, losing Brady and Andre is tough. They were both very strong players, but they were also veteran players, who knew how to play high school, competitive golf. We need the kids this year to do the same. We need them to understand that playing high school golf is different than just getting together to play with your friends.”
The Rams appear to once again be in good hands in the leadership department this season, with senior Steven O’Connor of Wilmington taking over for McFadden. Much like McFadden, O’Connor had to work very hard to get into the position he now holds with the team.
“Steve is another one of those stories of a kid who just worked hard and just kept steadily improving. We have had a lot of kids over the years like that and that is a really great part of our program,” Struthers said. “Steve made the team as a freshman, at least partially because he was willing to learn. And now four years later, he is a captain. That is how this program works.”
Other top players for the Rams will include seniors Sean Murphy and Connor Preble, both of Tewksbury.
“Sean has been playing very well so far. He is just a steady player for us. He is a quiet kid, who just goes out and scores very well it seems like, in every match,” Struthers said. “Connor is another player who can be very good. When he focuses, he is an outstanding player. He has lacked a little consistency, but he has the ability to shoot a lot of low scores.”
Senior Nolan Rexford will round out the top four players for the Rams, and he will be joined in the lineup by returning senior players Aiden Sullivan and DJ Ducharme, along with senior newcomer Brendan Kelley. Andrew Gattineri of Wilmington is the lone returning junior on the Rams roster, while fellow junior Kyle Brouillette is a newcomer to the Rams roster.
Sophomore Evan Williams is the only sophomore on the Rams roster, but they will have three freshmen on the squad as well, with Sean Schlehuber, Liam Milne and Matthew Tramonte (Tewksbury), rounding out the roster.
Tramonte has already made his presence felt for the Rams, shooting a 40 over nine holes in their season opening win over Nashoba last week, and Struthers is looking for bigger and better things from him both this season and throughout his career.
“He is a fantastic player,” Struthers said. “He shot a 39 today in practice, and the highest he has shot has been a 42. I am looking forward to seeing him play a lot this season.”
In that season opening 134-45 win over Nashoba Tech last Thursday, the Rams had O’Connor, Tramonte and Rexford each shoot a 45, while Sullivan and Preble each shot a 42 and Ducharme shot a 43.
It is pretty clear the Rams are once again loaded with talent this season, a fact that obviously makes Struthers very happy, but also makes him think about what his team is missing out on.
“The worst part of the changes this season is that there is no tournament,” Struthers said. “This team is deep and talented. We would have had to see if they were mentally tough enough for tournament play, but I think they would have done very well. They have a lot of talent.”
Tournament or not, Struthers is looking forward to seeing what is team can do in their abbreviated season.
“My mission as their coach is to make the season the best it can possibly be,” Struthers said. “For a lot of the seniors, this is the last time they will ever compete, so I want them to go out and try and win every match. I know what kind of team I have and I know how good they can be. I just want them to go out and enjoy the season, but also take it seriously, and I know they will.”