Cavs prepare for football season

Chris Lones sure likes the quality of athletes he has on this year’s Hollis Brookline High School football team.

The second-year coach just wishes he had a few more of them.

The Cavaliers began the preseason with just 34 players, five of whom are seniors, something that could hamper HB in its attempt to return to the Division II postseason. A year ago, the Cavs beat Sanborn in the West Conference Championship game before falling to Windham in the semifinals.

"We love the kids we’ve got, we just wish we had more of them," Lones said. "There’s certain things you’re not able to do when you don’t have numbers. You’ve got to have all those kids in your program so you can have a successful practice. We’re practicing with our freshmen against our varsity. It does great things for the freshmen group, but what does it do for the varsity?"

Lones and the coaching staff will also have to be aware of how much some guys are playing, as many will be forced into playing both ways, especially early on as younger players adjust to the varsity level.

"We’re managing playing time and rest will be the biggest challenge we face all year," Lones said. "We have to stay healthy and part of that is making sure no one takes 150 snaps a game. We’ve got to manage that and make sure we’re allowing guys to get off the field."

The Cavs were a strong defensive team last season, allowing 13.6 points per game against teams that weren’t Windham. But HB had to be, as it scored just 121 points all season.

This year, the defense should be solid again, led by the return of senior linebackers Wyatt Farwell, Peter Bertone and Kayne Robert. Lones expects the defense will be more of a focus as the offense gets up to speed.

"We want to be more balanced than we were last year," he said. "At the end of the day, we’re going to try to put our best 11 guys on the field on defense, and if we have to filter in a younger kid on offense, where he can be successful and we can still run our offense."

Farwell and Bertone will also be in the offensive backfield to help out whoever wins the quarterback job, as sophomore Joey Delaney and junior Tyler Bergerson are battling for the spot. It’s possible that the Cavs could end up using both signal callers as the season moves forward.

"They’re two different kinds of quarterbacks," the coach said. "Joey brings a lot of athleticism and a different kind of confidence because he knows he can do things with his legs. Tyler isn’t going to outrun everybody out here. He’s very disciplined. He makes sure everybody is in the right spot. We’ve thrown both to the wolves and they’ve gotten the same amount of time. They’re both probably going to play and we’ll utilize they’re strengths."

While Robert and senior Tyler Cusson return to the offensive line, Lones expects underclassmen to be thrown in the mix fairly quick, as sophomore Garrett Moloney is already penciled in at center.

"If by the end of the year, it wouldn’t surprise me if two of those freshmen are starting on the varsity line," Lones said.

Despite the challenges the Cavs face, the conference is still up for grabs, and given last year’s results, it’s likely the team that finishes first is the only one to make the postseason.

"It’s wide open," Lones said. "We won’t win it with two 4-4 teams, not with the changes. This change, I think you’re always going to have the next-best in. This is the bed we made and let’s lie in it."

Lones expects the defense will be more of a focus as the offense gets up to speed.

"We want to be more balanced than we were last year," he said. "At the end of the day, we’re going to try to put our best 11 guys on the field on defense, and if we have to filter in a younger kid on offense, where he can be successful and we can still run our offense."

Farwell and Bertone will also be in the offensive backfield to help out whoever wins the quarterback job, as sophomore Joey Delaney and junior Tyler Bergerson are battling for the spot. It’s possible that the Cavs could end up using both signal callers as the season moves forward.

"They’re two different kinds of quarterbacks," the coach said. "Joey brings a lot of athleticism and a different kind of confidence because he knows he can do things with his legs. Tyler isn’t going to outrun everybody out here. He’s very disciplined. He makes sure everybody is in the right spot. We’ve thrown both to the wolves and they’ve gotten the same amount of time. They’re both probably going to play and we’ll utilize they’re strengths."

While Robert and senior Tyler Cusson return to the offensive line, Lones expects underclassmen to be thrown in the mix fairly quick, as sophomore Garrett Moloney is already penciled in at center.

"If by the end of the year, it wouldn’t surprise me if two of those freshmen are starting on the varsity line," Lones said.

Despite the challenges the Cavs face, the conference is still up for grabs, and given last year’s results, it’s likely the team that finishes first is the only one to make the postseason.

"It’s wide open," Lones said. "We won’t win it with two 4-4 teams, not with the changes. This change, I think you’re always going to have the next-best in. This is the bed we made and let’s lie in it."