Zuffante is a leader on and off the field
By Cary Shuman
Chris Zuffante was already a proven product on the football field heading in to the 2016 season. He was a Northeastern Conference and Daily Item All-Star a year ago.
The 6-foot-3-inch, 195-pound quarterback and defensive back became one of the Viking captains this season. Zuffante has been a standout during the Vikings’ resurgence that catapulted them in to the state playoffs that get underway Friday night against No. 1 seed St. Mary’s at Manning Field in Lynn.
“There were a couple of bumps along the way but everybody is ready to go for this Friday and we’re all healthy,” said Zuffante.
A three-sport athlete who is ranked in the top 10 academically in the Class of 2017, Zuffante is in his second year as the starting quarterback.
“I learned a lot from watching Dylan Driscoll, who was the quarterback during our great [10-1] season [in 2014],” said Zuffante.
Sean Driscoll, Dylan’s father and the WHS head football coach, said Zuffante’s contributions on both sides of the ball were instrumental in Winthrop righting its ship and qualifying for the postseason tournament.
“He has more than 1,000 all-purpose yards, averaged 70 yards rushing per game, has four touchdown passes 42 solo tackles and assisted on 18 more on defense,” raves Driscoll.
The Vikings’ head coach said that Zuffante is the consummate student-athlete.
“Chris is the perfect picture of a scholar athlete and what you want your team leader to be,” said Driscoll. “He organizes and manages his time very well.”
Zuffante said coach Driscoll has been a terrific mentor on and off the field.
“He has been a great help throughout high school,” said Zuffante. “He has always guided me in to the right path and he’s been a great leader for me. He’s never let me down and he never will. I trust him.”
The talented senior is enjoying the new, state-of-the-art Winthrop High School building.
“It’s fantastic, a beautiful building – I couldn’t ask for anything better,” said Zuffante. “When I walked in there that first day, I was astonished. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. It was amazing. I love it.”
Zuffante has commenced his college application process and is corresponding with world-renowned engineering schools, including the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Worcester Polytechnic [WPI], Rensselaer Polytechnic [RPI], and Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology in Indiana.
A member of the National Honor Society, Zuffante will graduate with 12 varsity letters via football, basketball, and baseball, where he will join Franklin Pierce-bound Jack Wallace on what looks like a superb pitching staff this spring.
“I like all the sports I play but football is probably what I’m looking at in college,” he said. “I want to pursue a career in engineering.”
He is the son of former St. Dominic Savio and Suffolk University athlete Chris Zuffante Sr. and Jeralyn Zuffante, a former cheerleader at Division 1 Northeastern University. He has two younger sisters, Caroline, a WHS sophomore and also a three-sport athlete, and Catherine, an eighth grader.
Chris Zuffante Jr. has plenty of high school football left, beginning Friday night and likely ending with an invitation to the Agganis All-Star Game in June.
Can quarterback Chris Zuffante and his center, Luigi Spinazzola, help the Vikings derail the undefeated St. Mary’s Express?
“We have a great plan going in to the game,” said Zuffante. “I do give them a lot of respect. They’re a great team with a great coach. It’s going to be a battle.”
WHS sports roundup
WHS boys cross-country team tops Gloucester for first time in 30 years
The Winthrop High boys and girls cross country teams made the long trek to Gloucester two weeks ago.
On the boys’ side, the Vikings came home with a 26-29 victory, marking the first Winthrop triumph over a Fishermen cross-country squad in 30 years.
The Vikings were led by Northeastern Conference All-Stars Nick Beshire and Cormac MacPhail, who came across the line in second and third places.
Jacob Hain continued to show his overall improvement this season and took fifth spot. Patrick Haskell and Michelangelo Marcochio helped seal the victory with top 10 finishes.
The results for the Viking boys were as follows:
2nd — Nick Beshire 18:00
3rd — Cormac MacPhail 18:04
5th — Jacob Hain 18:48
6th — Patrick Haskell 19:35
10th — Michangelo Marcoccio 21:43
13th — Steven Hinchion 24:04
The results for the Lady Vikings who fell by a shutout score of 15-48, were as follows:
6th — Camila Miranda Llovera 22:30
9th — Caroline Zuffante 26:30
10th — Zara Powll 27:02
11th — Trinity Rist 27:02
12th — Ashley Miles 30:29
Last week the Viking teams competed hard against defending NEC and state champions Marblehead, with the boys coming up short, 21-40, and the girls falling, 15-48.
For the boys, Nick Beshire and Cormac MacPhail continued to make names for themselves by becoming the first two NEC runners to break up Marblehead’s top five by placing third and fourth overall.
The boys’ results were:
3rd — Nick Beshire 14:38
4th — Cormac MacPhail 14:54
11th — Jacob Hain 16:05
14th — Patrick Haskell 16:45
22nd — Michelangelo Marcoccio 18:41
For the girls:
6th — Carmila Miranda-Llovera 18:45
18th — Carolina Zuffante 20:57
31st — Kat Thano 23:47
No other results were recorded because of darkness.
On a separate note, Nick Beshire’s time of 14:24 two weeks ago tied Cormac MacPhail’s Deer Island course record set last year. The course will be changed in 2017, so both runners will hold onto that mark forever in WHS cross country annals.
WHS boys soccer team wraps up season this week
The Winthrop High boys soccer team will conclude its 2016 season this coming week. The Vikings were set to host Marblehead yesterday (Wednesday); entertain Salem tomorrow (Friday); and travel to Saugus on Monday.
Winthrop dropped both of its contests this past week to Gloucester and Swampscott.
In the tilt with Gloucester, the Vikings trailed by a slim 1-0 margin at the intermission after losing a 50/50 ball in the box. In the second half however, the injuries started to pile up in a game which Winthrop already was down three players because of injuries.
Three more Vikings, Asa Baurle, Steve Tracy, and Carlos Mendoza, departed the contest with various injuries, and Gloucester took advantage, scoring two more goals to claim a 3-0 victory.
In the Swampscott contest, the Vikings trailed 5-0 at the half before sophomore Jaylin Gigliello scored his fourth goal of the season. Winthrop opened the second half well, drawing a penalty kick that Mendoza put away for his fourth goal of the year to make it 5-2.
However, the Vikings could not capitalize on their momentum and Swampscott added five more tallies for a 10-2 finale.
“It was good thing to end our scoring drought,” said WHS head coach Kyle Gagin. “It also was great to see Jaylin finishing his chances, especially since he’s only a sophomore.”
WHS SPORTS Years
10 years ago
October 26, 2006
The juggernaut WHS football team coasted to its seventh win of the season with a 35-7 rout of Northeastern Conference rival Swampscott Saturday afternoon at Blocksidge Field. The Vikings amassed 410 yards of total offense. Senior Jason Griffin ran wild against the Big Blue, scoring two touchdowns on 130 yards rushing on 13 carries. Travis Kratman returned a fumble 60 yards for a TD, while Matt Murray scampered 62 yards for a TD. Quarterback James Fucillo tossed a 14 yard TD pass to Mark Shannon. Winthrop, now 7-0, will face 5-1 Lynn Classical this coming week at the new Manning Field.
The WHS boys soccer team tied Revere and Lynn English by identical scores of 3-3 this week. Steve Figueira, Dave Rivera, and Eugen Kaplani (who notched his seventh penalty kickoff the season) scored for the Vikings in the Revere contest. Figueira and James DeRocco (two goals) scored in the English contest.
Joe Wallace led the WHS boys cross country team to a 24-32 win over Saugus. Wallace ran the 2.65 Breakheart Reservation course in 14:45 to win the race, followed by teammate Alex DeFronzo in 14:50.
20 years ago
October 31, 1996
The first-place Winthrop High football team is riding high after a 27-20 comeback victory over Lynn Classical. Mark D’Ambrosio tossed a 23-yard TD pass to Michael Palmer for the lone Viking score in the first half. Danny Walsh scored his first TD of the year on a two-yard run, Matt Passaro scored on an end-around, and Walsh added his second TD on another two yard run. The Vikings now are 6-1 on the season.
The WHS girls cross country team took third place in the All-Northeastern Conference meet, despite competing without their top runner, Barbara Lewis. Elizabeth Lewis, Barbara’s younger sister, was the top Lady Viking finisher in eighth place.
30 years ago
October 29, 1986
Steve Holgersen ran for 179 yards on 29 carries and WHS captain Rich Rao accounted for 17 tackles to lead the Viking football team to a 14-7 upset victory over NEC-title contender Beverly. Holgersen ran for a TD on a 59 yard romp and WHS quarterback Ron Tallent scored on a 15-yard keeper.
The WHS girls cross country team, the NEC dual-meet champion, captured the all-league meet, led by Jeanne Hurley, who finished in fifth place in 21:13 over the three-mile course. Carrie Driscoll finished in sixth place, followed by Barbie Vecchio in ninth, Stacey Rand in 10th, Jennifer DiMento in 11th, Brenda Bertino in 12th, Colleen Kinsella in 13th, and Karen Ward in 15th.
The WHS girls tennis team concluded its season with a 5-0 win over Lynn Classical. Jackie Cohen, Elaine Papoulias, and Suzanne Ohlsen all won their singles matches. The doubles teams of Michelle Colvario & Karen Kelley and Susan Hubbard & Laurie Zedalis also were victorious.
The WHS field hockey team ended its season with a 2-0 win over Gloucester. At the team’s end-of-the-season banquet, Sheila Kennedy was presented the MVP Award and Diane Gillis received the Coach’s Award.
40 years ago
October 27, 1976
The WHS football team improved to 5-1 with a 26-6 win over Swampscott. Halfback Paul Plakias enjoyed a banner day with 132 yards rushing on 13 carries. The Vikings are in strong position to win their first NEC crown since 1964.
50 years ago
October 27, 1966
The WHS football team defeated Woburn 12-8 on Saturday. Sophomore Keith MacFarland, playing his first game at quarterback, sparked Winthrop when he entered the contest with Winthrop trailing 8-0 and led Winthrop on two scoring drives. Bud Northrop scored a touchdown and MacFarland tossed a five yard pass to Bill McNeil for the other.
60 years ago
October 25, 1956
The WHS football team remained unbeaten after a disappointing 13-13 tie with Woburn. Buster Ferrara appeared to have provided Winthrop with a victory when he scampered 20 yards for a TD in the waning moments, only to have the refs call it back because of a penalty. Ferrara and Bob DePippo scored the Winthrop touchdowns. Winthrop now will face unbeaten Marblehead for first place in the NEC.
70 years ago
October 24, 1946
The Winthrop High football team still is seeking its first win of the season after suffering a heartbreaking loss to Swampscott, 18-13, in the closing minutes. Dickie Evans tossed TD passes to Marshall Haraden and Buddy Johnson to thrill the 2000 Winthrop spectators on hand.