One of Masconomet’s biggest strengths in recent years has been their overall size and strength on the line. The Chieftains regularly boasted big bodies up front that gave them a huge advantage against some of the smaller squads in the Cape Ann League.
Now entering its second season as a member of the much bigger Northeastern Conference, the Chieftains have less of that size in the trenches but hope to make up for it with both experience and talent at the skill positions.
“It’s definitely a different take than we’ve been used to the past bunch of years, even going back to when Jim (Pugh, the team’s former head coach) was here,” said Gavin Monagle, beginning his seventh year as head of the program. “But this year we’re aggressive and have a lot of guys that can move and fly all over the place. We’re going to have to rely on different things to get the job done … but we believe it can work.”
The Chieftains will be led by senior captains Danny Gangi, Richie Guarino, Will Magnifico and Mat Nadworny. All will play significant roles both on and off the field.
At quarterback, Masco returns last year’s starter Matt Richardson. The junior signal caller threw for over 600 yards and seven touchdowns in the recent ‘Fall 2’ season and has only improved in the four months since. “He’s been doing very well in the preseason so far,” said Monagle.
Richardson will be aided by another returning starter in the backfield, the aforementioned Nadworny. An extremely capable runner, Nadworny perhaps shines brightest on defense. He’ll serve as one of the team’s top linebackers, possessing speed and physicality in bunches.
“Mat’s a super player on both sides of the ball. He’s an extremely good defensive player that flies,” said Monagle. “Back when he was a sophomore he was the Defensive Player of the Year in the CAL. He only played three games last year, but he’s healthy and ready to go now.”
While the Chieftains won’t be able to replicate that accustomed size up front, they do have a pair of brothers returning to the fold eager to make a mark. That would be Corin Canada Hunt and Hayden Canada Hunt, both of whom are capable of making things happen on the line. Fellow senior Jeff Pappalardo figures to play a big role at tackle, too.
“Jeff is fitting in well. He’s a tall kid, very fast,” said Monagle. “We’re not going to just push people around like last year, so we’re going to try to base things more on speed and he’ll definitely help us there.”
In terms of that plentiful experience previously touched upon, Monagle will have the luxury of deploying senior athletes such as Drew Howard (linebacker), Alban LaVita (defensive end), Jack Mitchell (running back/defensive back), Toal Lodewick (linebacker), Jake Kalapinski (linebacker) and Eric Sibbach (defensive end). Juniors Owen Barrett (split end/defensive back), Tyler McMahon (tight end/defensive end) and Will Mitchell (linebacker) are also likely contributors.
On the newcomer front, Monagle is excited about Nadworny’s younger brother, Sam, a sophomore. The second-year player will see time at both running back and defensive back, and according to the head coach has all the pieces to string together a breakthrough campaign.
“He started three games last year as a freshman; Sam’s a very skilled kid,” said Monagle. “He’s got speed, he’s got skill catching the ball, running the ball, and at defensive back he’s very good. He’s someone that’s really crept up and should help us a lot.”
In addition, Sibbach has apparently “come out of nowhere” thus far according to Monagle. The senior did not suit up during the Fall 2 season but is back in the fold as a two-way threat at both tight end and defensive end.
Last year’s record: 2-4
Head coach: Gavin Monagle (7th season, 29-32)
Team captains: Danny Gangi, Sr., OL/DL; Richie Guarino, Sr., RB/DB; Wil Magnifico, Sr., OL/DL; Mat Nadworny, Sr., RB/LB.
Leading returning rusher: Mat Nadworny (37 carries, 216 yards, 3 TD)
Leading returning passer: Matt Richardson (57-for-109, 660 yards, 7 TD)
Leading returning receiver: Owen Barrett (12 catches, 164 yards, TD)
Did you know: The Chieftains will host just three games this fall and, as of the start of the season, are not scheduled to play in a traditional Thanksgiving game.
Date Opponent Time
9/10 at Newburyport 7 p.m.
9/17 at Peabody 7 p.m.
9/24 at Winchester 7 p.m.
10/1 Beverly 7 p.m.
10/8 Marblehead 7 p.m.
10/15 Salem 7 p.m.
10/22 at Danvers 7 p.m.
10/29 at Swampscott 7 p.m.