Sports 09-03-2015

Vikings take on Golden Tornadoes in pre-season action

by Stephen Skobeleff

The title defense begins…

Welcome to 2015 Winthrop Vikings Football season. Team preparations include non-conference games against the Malden Golden Tornadoes on Friday, Sept. 4th in Everett and a Labor Day tilt with the St. Mary’s Spartans at the Manning Bowl all leading up to the home opener versus the Danvers Falcons on September 11th at 7:00 p.m.

Last season The Vikings defeated the Falcons in Danvers 27-16 as part of their march through Northeastern South on their way to becoming conference champions. It was an exciting season indeed, culminating in a Division 4 North Sectional Final match with Lynnfield, and later the habitual handling of Revere on Turkey Day.

That was then. This is now. A lot has happened since our reigning champions last saw action. They’ve had seventeen loses before even this season’s first snap. Seventeen seniors have graduated from that winning squad last year, meaning Coach Sean Driscoll and his staff have their work cut out for them.

“When you lose that many seniors, you definitely have to adjust and find your strong points,” related the head coach who enters his 7th year at the helm. To compensate the mass exodus his philosophy is to “just take our time and learn the basics.”

Prompted further for Viking strengths, Driscoll explained “I think we are strong in the skilled positions on both sides of the ball.” He tempers this with a concern for depth though, a view reiterated by team co-captain DB/TE Dan Dellanno.

“The biggest obstacle for us is depth due to the small amount of seniors we have, but having a large junior class benefits us,” communicated the senior co-captain. He agrees with his coach that losing that many seniors is tough, but does like what he sees in that large junior class. “Experience on the team is limited, but the seniors our team have stepped it up and the juniors on our team are molding into leaders as well.”

Dellanno added, “My co-captain Matt Feeley and I been leading this team since the off-season workouts that began in January. Unlike last year with five captains and multiple seniors, this year there are only two captains. We encourage everybody to be a leader on this team. We need to quality reps each week and take care of all the little things each week, and we will use this strategy to become a successful team.”

Speaking of Matt Feeley, the RB/LB had some thoughts of his own in regards to leading the team into the 2015 campaign. “As captains, Dan and I will give our best effort to share our experience as varsity football players with the rest of the team. We will keep the team motivated and continue to emphasize enthusiasm and preparation,” chimed the co-captain.

Feeley concurs with his co-captain as well as his coach that the retirement of so many seniors from last season is an obstacle, but like the others, he too is looking past that. “With good coaching and determination we will continue to compete and improve each day.”

Projected starting LB Jon Gonzalez summed it up well when he texted, “Out team is a young but very motivated group of individuals. We have our strengths and weaknesses here and there but above all we got heart and that’s just a Winthrop thing. We are the underdogs … but as a team I’m very confident we’ll pull through.”

So Winthrop with the heart, in eight days (from this Thursday Winthrop Transcript edition), get down to Miller Field. Your Vikings open up their title defense at home against Danvers, a contest assistant coach Eric Mack says “should set the tone for the entire season.” Witnessing what these young men have up their collective uniform sleeves as they attempt to repeat as champions should be worth the price of admission. When asked if he had any message for the town, Feeley proclaimed, “We hope you are all as excited as us for a great season!”

So let’s go Winthrop! Get down and support your team. And Let’s Go Vikings!!!

13 card live racing returns to Suffolk Downs on Saturday

Three $50,000 Mass-bred stakes highlight a 13-race card as live racing returns to Suffolk Downs this Saturday, September 5th. Longtime Suffolk Downs-based trainers Jay Bernardini, Brenda McCarthy and Bobby Raymond and prominent national outfits including Christophe Clement, Steve Assmussen, Gary Contessa and Jonathan Sheppard have entered Saturday’s races.

There will be three stakes races restricted to horses foaled in Massachusetts – the African Prince Stakes, the Rise Jim Stakes and the Isadorable Stakes. Each offer a purse of $50,000 and will showcase the Massachusetts Thoroughbred breeding industry. New England champion Victor Laszlo, a homebred for Mrs. Patricia Moseley, headlines the field for the Rise Jim Stakes.

In addition to the three Mass-bred stakes, Saturday’s card will include one steeplechase race and five turf races. One of the highlights of the card is a $50,000 allowance race carded at 7 ½ furlongs on the turf and that race has drawn a competitive field of nine. The featured race is a $55,000 allowance race scheduled to be run at 6 furlongs on the main track and will feature a field of six. In addition to a pair of allowance races, there will also be a mile and a half turf race for horses who have competed over hurdles in the past and will serve as a prep race for a future steeplechase.

“We are looking forward to the return of live racing at Suffolk Downs and the continuation of an 80-year tradition,” said Chip Tuttle, the Chief Operating Officer at Suffolk Downs. “I want to thank the horsemen for their continued support of the program and want to congratulate Lou Raffeto and Racing Secretary Tom Creel for putting together an exciting opening card.”

There will be many familiar local faces taking part in the opening card including jockey David Amiss, the leading rider in 2014 and longtime Suffolk Downs stalwart Tammi Piermarini, the third most winning female jockey in history, who will be returning to the East Boston oval with mounts for graded stakes winning trainers Christophe Clement, David Jacobson and Marcus Vitali.

“I’m excited to be back in Boston,” said Tammi Piermarini, in between working horses at Parx Racing in Pennsylvania where she is now based. “It will be great to see our friends and family and the fans that always supported me. Hopefully, some day in the future we will have a full-time meet again.”

“It will be great to be home and see a lot of faces I haven’t seen in over a year now,” said Jay Bernardini, a Lynn resident who took home the leading trainer title in 2014. “With a lot of apprehension, we ran the last race last year and didn’t know if we would be back again. It is a little bit bittersweet that it is only one day, but it is still going to be great to be back in a place that will always be home.”

 Post time for the 13 race card is at 12:30 p.m. and gates open at 11:00 a.m. In addition to live racing, the track will be hosting a food truck festival featuring food trucks from over a dozen vendors, craft beer, live music and family fun activities for the whole family.  Admission and parking are free.

For more information, visit

About Suffolk Downs:

Built by 3,000 workers in just 62 days when Massachusetts authorized pari-mutuel wagering in 1935, the historic track has been a showcase for some of the most famous names in Thoroughbred racing history, including Seabiscuit, Whirlaway, John Henry, Cigar and Skip Away.

From the Press Box

Plenty of Optimism

 By Jim Lederman

Coach Sean Driscoll is confident the 2015 Vikings will have a winning season.

“We are a young team 13 juniors and 12 sophomores) and very inexperienced. We should be very strong as the season progresses,” said a confident Coach Sean Driscoll. “We lost 17 seniors.”

This year marks year number nine for Coach Driscoll. The 2014 Vikings were undefeated in the NEC and captured the NEC title. The Vikings  (10-1) lost to Lynnfield in the final of Division 4 North in the MIAA Playoffs.

“We have a very athletic and strong backfield led by Junior QB Chris Zuffante”. “Chris came to camp well prepared and with a strong work ethic,” said Coach Driscoll.

“The competition in the line is good and we have good size but lack experience.”

Juniors Luigi Spinazzola, Derek Wasson and Andrew McGrail and sophomore Nick Manfra are promising starters. Calvin Tufa is injured but should be another starter.

Senor Justin Barker and junior Joe Tremouth (6’1”-180) are tight ends with good hands.

The athletic and confident backs C0-captains Matt Feeley, Matt Tarantino and Jon Gonzales), will carry the pigskin and are excellent linebackers.

“We have three scrimmages this week and we will decide our starting offensive and defensive starters”, said Coach Driscoll.

The Vikings and East Boston had a scrimmage yesterday (Wednesday) at East Boston Stadium.

The4 Vikings and Malden will play a game scrimmage at 7 p.m. at Everett Stadium Friday night (Sept. 4th). The Vikings will play their traditional “Labor Day” scrimmage on Monday at 10 a.m. with St. Mary’s of Lynn at Manning Field.

“The hot and humid weather will help us get ready for the opener with Danvers on Friday night Sept. 11th at Miller Field,” echoed Coach Driscoll.

“Let the Games Begin!”

Skimming the Sidelines

The Vikings have the first female player in WHS Football history. Sophomore Sierra O’Connell is a promising lineman. “Sierra played youth football and loves the game,” She has adjusted to her teammates,” said Coach Sean Driscoll.

Coach Bob Nimblett has returned to his alma mater as an assistant coach. The Vikings captain (1990) has been head coach at Alvirine High School in Hudson, NH. Bob will work with the ends and defensive backs.

Bob is the son of retired WHS teacher and basketball coach Jim Nimblett.

The coaching staff returned Jon Cadigan and Michael DeFelice, two of the best assistants in the NEC and WHS graduates. Eric Mack and Bobby Guidi are also on the staff.

Zach Fisher, a three-sport senor is out for football. “He is a good athlete and will help us,” said Coach Sean Driscoll.

Hurd Stadium

Saturday morning the Vikings traveled to Beverly for a scrimmage. The two teams played on the beautiful turf practice field behind Beverly High School.

The Vikings had 27 players on the field. Beverly matched out 65 players. Beverly has 40,000 residents and 1,500 students in the high school.

Hurd Stadium has the bleachers condemned and they will play their home games at Endicott College.

The Panthers were very impressive and should be a favorite in the NEC League Division.

Will there be a new Hurd Stadium with lights? Stay tuned for the news on the legendary Hurd Stadium.”

Faces in the Crowd

The temp was 80 degrees, but a large crowd of Viking supporters was at Beverly to watch the 2015 Vikings scrimmage. The Panthers.

Cynthia O’Connell was watching her granddaughter Sierra (the first female WHS player) on the Vikings. Kathy and Carl Tarantino, Debbie Spinazzola, Cheryl Barker, Joe Dalton, John Lyons, Anthony and Gina Massa, Gene and Diana August, Ginny Brown, Melissa Wasson, Tom and Sue Chiudina

Kudos to Mike Eruzione, named the recipient of the “Anthony’s Cold Fire Pizza Award”. The well-done award for community generosity. Two outstanding WHS football kickers Nucio Lagioia, 1983 place-kicker, Herman Heaton, 1952 field goal kicker. Coach Ken Perrone is 82 years young.


The three Lady Viking teams that played in the garden. 1993, 1994 and the 2015 Lady Vikings. The 1973 Vikings lost to Rindge Tech by one point in the Boston Garden. Winthrop leading scorer (Chris Tsiotos 28.5) did not play. The 1976 Vikings lost to Rindge Tech at Beverly high School. Winthrop and Peabody have only played twice on the gridiron. The 1981 Vikings defeated Beverly (6-0). (Chuck Sullivan 75-yard TD) at Hurd Stadium, Beverly. The 1993 Vikings defeated Beverly (20-6) at Hurd Stadium. Tony Palmer (195 points) scored two touchdowns. Marblehead has had Spanish War Veterans Stadium, Hopkins Field and the present field Piper Field as football stadiums.

1959 WHS football team had (five) captains lead their respective college teams. Bill Levine (Wyoming), Bob Milne (Cornell), Tim Brannan (Tufts), Phil Ratner (Cornell) and Jack Reed (University of Rhode Island).

Trivia: Can you name the only female skater to play for the Vikings hockey team?

Let the Games Begin?

College Report

Dylan Driscoll – 2014 NEC “MVP” quarterback playing at Plymouth State College, was injured and will miss the 2015 season. Dylan was playing QB and injured his knee.

Sean Gillis is playing at WPI (Worcester Poly Tech) The 2014 Boston Globe All-Scholastic led the Vikings to the 2014 NEC title.

Sean’s teammate Justin Castilla is in his third year of playing at WPI. Rolando Recinos is playing at Anna Maria College. “Number 55” was a standout lineman on the 2014 champions!

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