Monday, August 28, 2017

MIAA Football Camp Road Trip: The Marshfield Rams

Photo courtesy of Victor Barrows
By Tom Joyce (@TomJoyceSports)

MARSHFIELD - It’s hard to improve offensively a year after averaging 37 points per game, but the Marshfield High football team may be in a position to do just that this season.

The Rams went 8-3 and made it to the Division 1A South semifinals last year and, while they graduated a handful of their top defensive players (Neal Parry, Adam Briffett, Chris McLeod, Christian Friedel, Gavin Admirand, Chris White), the pieces of their signature Wing-T offense remain mostly intact. That said, Rams head coach Lou Silva, who is in his final year leading the Rams, is pleased with the amount of experience his team is returning.

“It’s just nice going in and knowing who you have,” Silva said. “We didn’t have to go searching and holding auditions. All they had to do is prove they belonged in the positions. We’re just looking for some depth kids, and hopefully they can push some of the kids who are coming back as ‘starters.'"

“We’ve got a good mixture of some size and speed,” he added, “And we do have some of those running backs coming back.”

Although the Rams offensive line was on the smaller side last year, it will be one of their strengths in 2017. They return several experienced players, including senior guards Jake Devonshire and Pat Barnes, to go with junior center Dan O’Brien and junior tackle Magnus Leonard. Senior transfer Tyler MacDonald, at 6-foot-2 and 285 pounds, was on Greater Lawrence Tech’s offensive line in 2016, and should also be an asset in the trenches for the Rams.

Without a ton of depth this season, the Ram offensive line is going to need to be versatile.

“We’re moving a lot of them in and out,” Silva said. “Some of the guys can play center, tackle and guard... We’re just building that depth.”

On the ground, 1,000 yard rusher Jack McNeil, who averaged 11.4 yards per carry last season, will be the team’s go-to running back. Even so, the Rams tend to divvy up carries and plan on using a rotation that features six to seven running backs. After all, they are returning Brendan Ward, Elijah Duarte and Braden Killens as well, all of whom were in the mix at the position last season.

“We try to play a lot of kids,” Silva said. “You’ve got to build the depth. This is high school. You can’t just go with 11 kids. The kids get excited too when they get in the games and you’re getting them the ball.”

Another strength Silva sees in his team this season is speed on the outside from their receivers.

The receiving corps might not have a ton of varsity experience, but senior Dan Hickey was a special teamer who played some varsity defense last season, and Silva likes the potential he sees in sophomores Nico Pelligrini and Jack O'Donnell. The two are both 6-foot-1.and gained brief varsity experience as freshmen. They will be receiving throws from second-year varsity starter and junior quarterback Jackson Phinney, who completed 56.6 percent of his passes last season and threw 11 touchdowns.

Senior Nick Banks, who recorded 51 tackles as a defensive end last season, will also be the team’s tight end this season.

“He’s gonna play a lot out there,” Silva said, “Kind of like the role Danny Dalton was in two years ago.”

While the Rams' defense is inexperienced this season, senior Brody Reynolds, along with Banks and McNeil will most likely lead the effort. Last year, Reynolds had a team-leading five sacks while playing defensive end.

The Rams open up their season on Friday, Sept. 8 on the road against Cranston West in Rhode Island.

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