Saturday, August 25, 2018

Spencer Cassell Hoping to Make His Final Season a Historic One for Hingham

Spencer Cassell (pictured) is hoping to leave his mark on the Hingham football program.

By Matt Feld (@Mattyfeld612)
Hingham, Mass. – Spencer Cassell does not have to take long to think back on his best high school football memory to date.
Last Thanksgiving Eve, with Hingham and Scituate deadlocked 0-0 and less than six minutes to play, Cassell hauled in a four-yard touchdown reception off a play action pass to push the Harbormen in front. Scituate scored in the game's waning moments but missed the two point try to give Hingham a 7-6 victory with Cassell’s catch the game winner.
For Cassell, however, this was no ordinary game winning touchdown reception. Those in them of itself are often a rarity in a high school career. Rather this one took place on one of the most hallowed grounds in all of sports with Hingham and Scituate playing under the bright lights at Fenway Park.
“Catching that touchdown pass was undoubtedly the highlight so far,” said Cassell. “Fenway Park last year on Thanksgiving Eve was just incredible. We won after they missed a late two point try and everyone just went crazy.”

The win is now being used as a springboard for the Hingham football program. After a standout 2017 season that finished with an 8-3 overall record, the Harbormen are likely to find themselves back in the mix in 2018.

A strong returning core highlighted by one of the top tight ends in all of Massachusetts in Cassell has Hingham hoping they will be playing at a different New England sports cathedral come December.

“It’s senior year, this is it for us,” said Cassell. “We want to ride that momentum from last year and compete for a state championship.”
Cassell began playing football when he was barely five. His father, Vance, played tight end at Lehigh before receiving a tryout with the New York Giants. The Hingham native immediately fell in love with the game.
He played town youth football, which allowed him to develop a strong on and off the field rapport with Jack Johnson. Johnson is entering his second season as Hingham’s starting quarterback.
Cassell’s Hingham youth football days continued even as he took a detour to Thayer Academy for his middle school years.
While Thayer did not end up becoming his future home it was where Cassell figured out where he wanted to be for his high school career – doused in a white and red uniform and in front of his hometown crowd.
“Playing in front of a town and community is just so different from ISL football,” said Cassell. “ISL football is terrific football, but Friday night games while everyone is all there just to go crazy for you and your team – its just a different atmosphere.”
His initial size and athleticism made Cassell a coach’s dream the moment he stepped on the field. Chris Arouca, who spent the last three years coaching Cassell at Hingham before taking over the head coaching job at Marshfield in the spring, placed him on the varsity team his freshman year.
Cassell may not have started right out of the gate but he quickly received his fair share of attention from his friends and fellow classmates. He began understanding the landscape, taking snaps in practice as a feature blocker out of the wildcat. All the while the Harbormen started experiencing success on the field.
During his sophomore season Hingham went 4-3 in the regular season en route to making the postseason before finishing the year 6-5. The first signs of potentially playing collegiate athletics came that spring, but not courtesy of football but rather his play on the lacrosse field.
“I received my first college offer in lacrosse from the University of Vermont,” recalled Cassell. “That was when I realized I could play college sports somewhere.”
The thought of playing lacrosse at the next level intrigued the star defenseman, but his passion had always been football and that was not about to change.
“I’ve always felt stronger in football. My dad having played in college, and I just wanted that experience so that’s what I decided to focus on,” said Cassell.
Across the spectrum Cassell’s athletic career took off during his junior year. He climbed to nearly 225 pounds. Not only could he now begin to transform himself into a premiere blocker, but he also possessed the quickness to blow past some of the more agile opposing defensive backs when spread out wide.
Hingham finished 8-3, falling twice to the 10-time reigning Patriot League champions in Duxbury. Cassell, meanwhile upped his career total in catches to 48 along with 437 yards and three touchdowns.
Following the conclusion of the fall season, the collegiate interest in Cassell’s potential on the football field began to pour in. First Cornell offered, then visits occurred to Patriot League schools, the University of Virginia, Richmond, William & Mary, and Georgetown. He toured and talked with representatives from Maryland, Rutgers, and Pittsburgh.
At the same time he was helping guide Hingham to a record-breaking year for the lacrosse program. The Harbormen reached the Div. 1 Sectional Final before ultimately falling to BC High.
The taste of success in both the fall and spring have given Cassell feeling that Hingham is poised for a breakthrough.
“It’s really exciting. You put all the work in, begin to mesh together as a group, it gives us expectations for this year,” said Cassell.
Despite the visits to illustrious college campuses well outside of Massachusetts, Cassell was never able to say no to the prestigious university just north from home and across the Charles River. In the middle of July just weeks prior to the start of camp he committed Harvard.
“Everyone always says it but it’s true – Harvard is the best of both worlds,” said Cassell. “It’s a terrific school with really good football. Other schools have remained in contact with me, in an effort to get me to switch my commitment. But I love Harvard and everything it has to offer.”
Prior to any sort of college football that is coming his way, Cassell has one final fall remaining in the red and white and he intends to make it count. Now at six-foot-seven and 245 pounds – and shooting for 250 by the time the Harbormen open up against Foxborough on September 7th – Cassell has become one of the top all around prospects in the state.
And now he is playing for a new head coach in Jim Connor who after five years at Norwell is in his first year overseeing a veteran Hingham team.
“It was kind of interesting coming in, he was letting us do most of the leading in the offseason,” said Cassell. “But now, with camp having started its just picking up where we left off. We have a new offense, new defense, but we have all gotten better at the same time. No matter what its all up to us to prove we have progressed.”
What makes Cassell most excited about playing for Connor is his blocking schemes.
While his skills in the open field are what catch the spectator's eye, there is nothing the elite tight end takes more pride in than his ability to block.
“It’s been great to see that part of the game plan come into play,” said Cassell. “There is nothing like pancaking someone.”
Cassell already has his game winning catch at America’s most beloved ballpark, so come December perhaps he’ll have the exclamation point block just off of route one.

No comments :