Fitchburg State Looking To Climb Up Throughout The 2011 Season
The Fitchburg State football team welcomed back a new face this off-season as sixth year head coach Pat Haverty reclaimed the reigns of the Falcons football program. After posting an overall record of 1-9 (1-6 NEFC) last season, the Falcons and Haverty’s newly acquired coaching staff are looking to climb their way back up to the top of the New England Football Conference.
“Our goal is to get better every day,” said Haverty. “We all came into camp ready to get adjusted, looking to get on the same page and ready to gel. The kids have come in focused and understand they will all be asked to do many different things in order to be successful.”
With a new mindset and new attitude, Fitchburg State is looking to make a fresh start in 2011. With a roster of just 65 players, the Falcons will rely on both their health and veteran leadership to play a significant part in their success.
“To our benefit, we have many leaders on both sides of the ball,” said Haverty. “Offensively, first and foremost we start with (Jeremy) Kimber and (Carlos) De La Rosa, while on the defensive end, it all starts with our linebackers (Will Gasson, Anthony Bizzotto, Matthew Ferrara).”
Leading things on the offensive end for the Falcons will be seniors Jeremy Kimber (Fitchburg, Mass./Fitchburg) and Carlos De La Rosa (Holyoke, Mass./Holyoke). Last season, Kimber served a primary role as the Falcons quarterback, throwing for 1,036 yards and 6 TD’s, while also posting three scores on the ground.
This season, Kimber will move back outside, holding down a spot as one of the Falcons top receivers. He will join De La Rosa on the outside, providing a very potent receiving punch in the NEFC. In the 2009 season, De La Rosa witnessed a breakout year, earning four post-season honors with 773 yards, ten touchdowns and 48 receptions. Last season, De La Rosa was hampered by injury but looks to rebound to his All-Conference form this year.
In the backfield, the Falcons will turn to its committee as several veterans and newcomers are all vying for the start on opening day. New guys, Farren Davis (Readsboro, Vt./Drary), Steph’fon Teague (Fitchburg, Mass./Fitchburg) and Jean Medard (Walpole, Mass./Walpole) have all performed well during camp, while returners Mike Chaplin (Fitchburg, Mass./Monty Tech) and Chris Bachand (Newington, Conn./St. Paul Catholic) provide the Falcons with some backfield experience.
Behind center, there has been a two-man competition as newcomers Brian McDonald (Westwood, Mass./Hebron Academy) and Tanner Bachand (Newington, Conn./St. Paul Catholic) have battled it out all pre-season. McDonald, a transfer student from Sacred Heart University, provides the Falcons with a 6-3, 220 build behind the line, while Bachand has made a name for himself with solid play over the pre-season.
On the line, the Falcons return several starters from a year ago, including junior Bobby Booth (Johnston, R.I./Bishop Hendricken), sophomore Pat Johnson (Scituate, Mass./Scituate) and senior Jon Cadigan (Stoughton, Mass./Southeastern Regional). Sophomore Dan Della-Giustina (Gardner, Mass./Gardner) is expected to add the offensive line mix, while newcomers Brendan Coan (Westbrook, Conn./Westbrook) and Daniel Martin (Spencer, Mass./David Prouty) are set to see significant time in their rookie campaigns.
Rounding out the list of offensive notables is sophomore, wide-receiver Brian Wallace (Ayer, Mass./Ayer) and classmate tight-end Ryan Kasik (Dudley, Mass./Shepherd Hill). Wallace, slated as the team’s slot receiver, put together a solid rookie season, taking in 15 catches for 105 yards, while Kasik has emerged as the Falcons top tight-end prospect this year.
On the defensive side, the Falcons return a good amount of veteran leadership, including two starters in the line-backing core. All-Conference candidate Anthony Bizzotto (Leominster, Mass./Leominster) and senior captain Will Gasson (N. Falmouth, Mass./Mansfield) return as the Falcons top tacklers from a year ago, combining for over 150 stops. Bizzotto ranked first on the Falcons squad with 84 tackles, including 50 solo efforts, 34 assists and 3.5 sacks, while Gasson added 75 stops (50 solo, 25 assists) with 7.0 TFL’s and one interception.
Senior Matthew Ferrara (Walpole, Mass./Walpole) is also expected to the crack the Fitchburg State line-backing core and will provide added leadership between the lines, while sophomore Joseph Sasso (Melrose, Mass./Melrose) is expected to see significant playing time in a relief role.
The Falcons defensive backfield also contains a wide group of veteran leadership as seniors Chris Rose (Gloversville, N.Y./Gloversville), Sean Golden (Uncasville, Conn./Montville) and Mike Vaughan (Lowell, Mass./Lowell) return to the gridiron this season. Rose was strong for Fitchburg State, ranking fourth on the team with 41 tackles and one interception, while Golden and Vaughan battled through injuries for much of the 2010 campaign. Another bright spot for the Falcons secondary has been freshman Taron Seaforth (Lynn, Mass./Lynn English) who has worked his way up the depth chart over the pre-season camp.
Wrapping up the Falcons defensive unit is their lineman. Senior Jim Jaworksi (Cranston, R.I./Bishop Hendricken) will be relied upon to lead the Fitchburg State defensive line, coming off a 26 tackle, 4.5 sack season in 2010. Jaworski will be joined by transfer Johnathon Salvatore (Leominster, Mass./Osceoia) who provides much needed size to the line with a 6-3, 330lb frame. Rounding out the Falcons linemen will be seniors Andrew Lizotte (Carver, Mass./Abington) and David McKinnon (Bridgewater, Mass./Bristol-Plymouth).
Another area with veteran leadership for the Falcons this season is in its kicking core as senior Lenny Masciangioli (Leominster, Mass./Leominster) takes over the duties both from a punting and kicking role. Last season, Masciangioli proved himself to be an elite NEFC kicker, converting 15-of-20 extra points and three field goals. When called upon, Masciangioli also filled the punters role, totaling 372 yards over 14 attempts. Brian McDonald will also serve a role as the Falcons punter, while Masciangioli is slated to handle all Falcon kickoffs
As usual, Fitchburg State faces a very competitive schedule throughout the 2011 season, including a tough three game stretch over its first four games. Fitchburg State is set to kick off the 2011 year on Friday September 2nd as it hosts Becker College at 7 p.m before hitting the road for three straight games vs. Curry, Endicott and Maine Maritime. The Falcons will return home on October 1st to host Coast Guard Academy at 1:30 p.m..
“Every year that NEFC continues to get better,” said Haverty. “Our first game of the year will set the tone for our season. If we come out gunning, expect Fitchburg State to make some noise within the Bogan Division.”