High school football preview
Friday, September 6, 2013
HOLLIS – Any success the Hollis Brookline High School football team experiences this season can be traced back to what the Cavaliers went through in 2012.
Coming off their best year in program history, last year’s edition of the Cavs hoped for a playoff berth despite losing a lot to graduation.
Instead, injuries derailed HB almost from the first day of the preseason. The Cavs fell to 3-7 overall and head coach Milt Robinson, who started the program, stepped down to spend more time with his family.
But because of all those injuries, a lot of underclassmen got the most valuable thing a high school football player can have – experience.
“We have a bunch of guys who have experience only because of injuries,” said first-year HB coach Rich Bergskaug, who was Robinson’s assistant for six years. “Hindsight it’s great, but not when you’re in the middle of that season. Then it’s not fun.”
So far, 2013 has been a lot more exciting for the Cavs. After spending four days at camp in the town of Freedom, Bergskaug feels the players have not only come closer together, they’ve also got a better grasp of the things being asked of them by a new coaching staff.
The biggest of those changes comes on offense, where HB will switch from a pro-style offense to the spread.
From that formation, Bergskaug hopes to utilize what he feels is an abundance of skill players.
“The last couple of years we’ve been running the same offense, it was more on the conservative side,” he said. “I wanted to get more players involved and spread the ball out, take advantage of our speed.”
While Bergskaug feels he has two players who can step in at quarterback, it will be senior Austin Pigott who gets the nod, allowing backup Nick Garside to start at outside linebacker. Pigott, who is a pitcher for the baseball team, hasn’t played quarterback since his freshman year, but the coaching staff believes he’ll be ready to go in time for the regular season.
“He’s just a tremendous athlete in general,” Bergskaug said. “I think this kind of offense, not that it requires it, but it works well when you have a very athletic kid running it. His natural ability is going to take over. And he’s a pitcher, so you know he has a great arm. He’s shown us he’s pretty accurate. It’s just a matter of getting him the reps.”
Pigott will have plenty of players around him to handle the ball, led by running backs Andrew Butler (junior captain), Matt Ferenczhalmy and Wyatt Farwell (sophomore), along with slot backs Graham Fay, Joe Brooks, Jason VanCoughnett, Patch Zorn and Tommy Grant.
The Cavs also return three starters on the offensive line, along with another player who saw a lot of varsity action in a backup role. Size is on HB’s side as well, as some of their linemen tip the scales anywhere between 270-300 pounds.
While the program’s numbers are in the mid-50s, Bergskaug feels the team has enough depth to be able to play some players one way.
“We’re going to have the ability on defense to get those kids off the field sometimes,” he said. “We’ll have a kid who is going to strictly play defense on the line.
“We’re going to get those kids a break, which we’ve never had the luxury of doing in the past. We’re excited about that.”
And despite the division realignment, a lot of HB’s opponents will be familiar faces.
The Cavs are in the West Conference with Con-Val, a D-III foe from the last few seasons, along with former Division IV teams Monadnock, Kearsarge and Sanborn, all of which were on HB’s schedule in the past. The Cavs will also have non-conference games against Milford and Souhegan.
“We’ve played the same teams for the past four or five years,” Bergskaug said. “It will be nice to see some new teams and some different stuff. It’s exciting.”