By Cary Shuman
Christopher Beranger received the coveted Bentley Swift Cup at the June 5th graduation ceremony, emblematic of being the top athlete in the Winthrop High Class of 2009.
But Beranger isnâ€™t done representing the school yet. On Friday night at Bentley University in Waltham, Beranger will compete for the North All-Stars in the Shriners Football Classic, an annual game that brings together the top graduating seniors in eastern Massachusetts.
The 6-foot, 187-pound former Viking captain will start at receiver in the game and catch passes from Swampscott quarterback Chris Cameron and Buckingham Browne and Nichols quarterback Mike DiChiara of Saugus. The team is being coached by Steve Dembowski of Swampscott, who employs a pass-oriented spread offense.
â€œItâ€™s really an honor to play in this game because so many great players, including many from Winthrop, have had the experience of playing in it,â€ said Beranger. â€œItâ€™s also an event that helps the Shrinersâ€™ charities, and Iâ€™m glad to be able to help them out. Iâ€™ve met Brandon Martinez [a Winthrop elementary school student who is serving as an honorary king for the game]. Considering heâ€™s from my town, the game takes on additional significance for me. I want to do everything I can for him.â€
Beranger has been getting a lot of footballs thrown his way in the practices and intra-squad scrimmages.
â€œIâ€™m the slot receiver and I hope to catch a touchdown pass in the game,â€ said Beranger. â€œHopefully, theyâ€™ll be calling a lot of my pass plays. If I get the ball, Iâ€™m going to do what I can.â€
Winthrop coach Sean Driscoll expects Beranger to thrive in the passing attack.
â€œI look for Chris to have a big game Friday night,â€ said Driscoll. â€œHe has great hands, and I know heâ€™ll get open. Hopefully, he can get to the end zone.â€
Beranger said he is grateful to the local businesses and residents who have donated to the Shrinersâ€™ charities on his behalf. â€œMy mother and I have raised a lot of money for the organization,â€ said Beranger.
Beranger was set to attend the Shriners Classic banquet Wednesday night at the Shriners Auditorium in Wilmington. Christopherâ€™s mother, Jeanne, his stepfather, Frank Scarpa, his sister, Laura, his uncles, Dave Belcher and Richard Belcher, and his girlfriend, Ashley McCormick, were scheduled to attend the banquet. Coach Driscoll was also an invited guest.
In other Viking football news, Driscoll said the Winthrop football team is looking forward to hosting the annual Fatherâ€™s Day Pancake Breakfast Sunday at the high school cafeteria.
Thirty WHS players will leave Monday for football camp at West Chester University in Pennsylvania. Leading the delegation will be captain-elect Will Milano and seniors Frank Ambrosino, Keith Stasio, Anthony Spinazzola, and Robert Deeb. Senior Mark Jenkins, a basketball standout, has returned to the football program after participating in his sophomore year.