Saturday, August 19, 2017

MIAA Football Camp Road Trip: The St. Peter-Marian Guardians

St. Peter-Marian's football team wraps up a long first day of camp.
By Joe Parello (@HerewegoJoe)

– New St. Peter-Marian football coach Justin McKay's first day on the job was a long one.

The Guardians met at 1 pm Friday, then hit the practice field at 5 pm, and weren't done until around 7:30. Just when you thought the players were about to catch their breath, McKay reminded them, "what time are we going to be in the auditorium tomorrow?"

"7 am," his team responded in unison.

The grind has officially begun, and St. Peter-Marian hopes to out-work its opposition this year. The Guardians were already one of the most successful programs in Central Mass, annually competing for district titles under former coach Tom Henrickson, and McKay hopes to build off what SPM has already achieved.

Coming over from Algonquin, where he took the Tomahawks from the Mid-Wach cellar to within a game of a district crown, McKay knows he's walking into a much more manageable situation this time around.

"We're lucky because coach Henrickson did such a great job coaching up these kids," McKay said. "So he left us in great shape. The cupboard is far from bare."

It certainly isn't, and it all starts at the quarterback position, where SPM returns one of the best players in the region. Senior signal caller Danny Malm figures to be the centerpiece of McKay's first Guardian offense. Lethal as both a passer and a runner, Malm lit up defenses for 17 touchdowns through the air and 7 scores on the ground last season.

How he will be utilized in McKay's offense remains to be seen, but he will have plenty of weapons around him.

"At this point, I'm just trying to see what our guys do really well and cater to that," McKay said.

Look for senior running back and receiver Matt Dumphy to again be all over the field for the Guardians. A lethal "space player" who also excels on kick and punt returns, Dumphy is one of a number of skill position weapons that McKay will have to work with.

"(The first day of camp) was intense," Dumphy said. "It's a lot more this year, but we're ready for it."

Paving the way for SPM will be a big and experienced offensive line, led by returning starting center Pat Creagh, along with Garrett Hooper and Josh Pace. McKay has built a reputation as one of the best offensive line coaches and run game schemers around, so that bodes well for the Guardians, who utilized more spread passing concepts last season.

Whatever the schematic details, and whoever emerges to lead the defense, the goal is simple. During conditioning, the Guardians run 13 sprints to signify the number of games needed to play to win a state title.

"I just want to get that ring," Malm said.

"Yeah, it's what every high school player dreams of," Dumphy added.

SPM will come in as one of the favorites in the new Division 6 Central. The Guardians will likely have to deal with rival Holy Name, and small-school power Littleton in that district. But, with a state title on their minds, and a new coach who just turned Algonquin into a district title contender, don't sleep on the Guardians.

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