Junior quarterback Jimmy Barker has won the positional battle with sophomore Dave Capone for the right to succeed Will Milano as the starting signal caller for the 2010 Vikings football team.
Capone will serve as the back-up to Barker and will play on defense.
Following what was termed a solid camp and pre-season, Barker and senior running back and co-captain Nick McCarthy will take their team to Salem Friday night for the start of the 2010 season, against a Witches team that boasts several returning starters and has title aspirations of their own.
“Overall, we (the coaches) felt the team had a real good, solid camp,” said head coach Sean Driscoll. “Jimmy Barker won the starting job. We feel confident going into the first game with him as our quarterback and we feel we were able to accomplish a few things in our pre-season games that will help us in the regular season. We’re feeling good as a team and we’re healthy.”
The team played early pre-season games against Newburyport and Nantucket last week, before playing a full game scrimmage with Malden Saturday and a passing scrimmage on Monday at Ipswich.
“The only drawbacks for us during the pre-season were some turnovers, which we think we’ve got corrected and an inability, against Malden, to convert our extra point chances,” said Driscoll.
The point after and two-point conversion chances proved to be the difference in the only game scrimmage with Malden, as each team scored two offensive touchdowns, but Winthrop failed to add the extra points, while Malden converted theirs.
“I think we learned, as a team, that we have to work hard and get those extra points, because we played a good game against a very good Malden team, but came up short because of the conversions,” said Driscoll.
Those lessons will be put to the test Friday night, September 10 at 7 p.m. at Salem’s Bertram Field.
“Salem has two great players in their quarterback, Brad Skeffington and tight end/linebacker Anthony Reyus,” said Driscoll. “Reyus was the defensive player of the year last year in the NEC and they have a very veteran team, so this will be a good match-up for us.”
Another major factor for this year’s Viking squad is that they have several returning starters, while also having a bevy of strong underclassmen, who forced competition at most spots during camp and will provide depth during the season.
Joining Barker and McCarthy at the offensive skill positions are senior receivers J.P. Doherty and Jake Adelstein, with Chris Strangie, Joe Clougherty, Rich Ferrino and sophomore Mitchell Paulson Jr. providing running back depth.
Anchoring the offensive and defensive lines will be co-captain Nick Doonan and fellow tackle Anthony Hatsisavas, with senior Nick Beaudry, starting for the second straight year at offensive guard.
“Beaudry really showed some improvement and an ability to get out and run as a guard, which was absolutely fabulous,” said Driscoll. “He really turned some heads and will be among a group of players who will be making a real contribution to our line.”
On defense, Barker will be the mainstay at linebacker and McCarthy projects to once again be one of the best safeties in the Northeast Conference. Joining them will be a trio of sophomore defensive linemen, Daniel Feely, Paul Correale and Brandon Gentile, who are all able to play multiple positions and spell other two-way starters such as Hatsisavas and Doonan.
Free safety Michael Caputo and cornerbacks Strangie, Ferrino and Paulson will also give the team depth, as they try to buckle down on the big plays.
“With the sophomores and the three cornerbacks/running backs, we feel we have some depth at a couple of different positions, which should help us in terms of keeping people fresh and keeping them healthy for the full season,” said Driscoll.
Against Salem, Driscoll said the Vikings will look to establish the running game first, and then play solid defense to disrupt Salem’s attack.
“First of all, we think we have one of the best running backs in the league with some great depth at that position and with a new quarterback, we’ll look to get Nick McCarthy and the other running backs going first,” said Driscoll. “We also feel that we have a very good offensive line, so we can use the pass to keep them off balance.”
On defense, Driscoll said the focus has been on preventing big plays and playing solid, grind it out defense.
“Last year, we seemed to have a problem with the big plays, so that has been a focus this year and if we can eliminate the opponent’s big plays, I think we’ll be alright,” he said.