Stafford Leader

Southern Regional Football Looks to Rebound From Three-Win Campaign

Sep 14, 2018

The Southern Regional Rams varsity football team got off to a shaky start, losing its opening game at home to Jackson Memorial, 14-0. The Rams could muster just 104 yards of total offense.

Head coach Chuck Donohue Sr. knew there would be some trying times as his team tries to rebound from a 3-7 2017 season marked by injuries and inconsistent play. One major obstacle is that Southern has no returning starters on the lines, either on offense or defense.

“We knew this was coming because we had a senior-dominated team last year,” he said. “But I think we have really good kids who are going to step up and get better. Our defense will be fine. On offense, we need our kids to come out and execute. We can’t play Carmen Deo at quarterback and not be able to protect him; we’re going to have problems moving the ball. But we’ll be all right. We have good line coaches, and we will get better. I’m very confident of that.”

A senior, Deo started toward the end of last season. He threw for 306 yards and three touchdowns.

Senior Joe Guglielmo will start the season at fullback until senior Pat Scully returns from a shoulder injury. Guglielmo will then shift to tailback, where last season he ran for 432 yards and six touchdowns on just 56 carries. Also in the mix are seniors Robert Gunnell, Thomas Barnett and Luke Galan. Gunnell will also serve as a kick returner.

Zach Hem, a senior, returns as a starting wide receiver and will be joined by seniors Schneider Juste, Matt Caporrino and Nick Sinatra. Hem, whose junior season was cut short due to injury, will also handle the punting and kicking duties. Juste had six catches for 122 yards and two touchdowns.

Seniors Kevin Lanahan, J.T. Cornelius and Connor Dombecki and sophomore Jay Silva are all in the mix for playing time at tight end.

The offensive line features senior Liam Anderson as the left tackle with senior Josh Echandia at left guard and junior Colby Saxton at right tackle. Senior Noah Westpy and junior Sebastian Cervetto are the centers. Cervetto could also see time at right guard, and juniors Nick Velardi and Jayden Smith are also available for playing time at tackle.

Of the 6-foot-4, 260-pound Anderson, Donahue said, “He was really coming on last year until he got injured against Brick. He’s a smart, powerful lineman, and I expect an all-star season from him.”

Anderson, Saxton, Echandia, Smith and senior Matt Flores will all see action at defensive tackle. Juste, Lanahan, Dombecki and Silva will vie for playing time at defensive end.

Guglielmo will be the starter at inside linebacker, where he had 22 tackles in 2017. The linebacking corps will also feature Cervetto, Galan, senior Trevor Gouveia, senior Thomas Barnett, Gunnell, junior Christian Torres and sophomore Hank Gallacher.

In the secondary, senior Dupreme Holland is a returning starter at cornerback with Sinatra and Caporrino manning the other cornerback spot. As a junior, Holland had 289 tackles and one interception. Hem and junior Cole Robinson will be the safeties.

“We have to play more-confident football, and the only way our kids are going to develop confidence is be playing the games,” said Donohue. “Kids who are inexperienced aren’t thinking about the score, how much time’s left, which down it is. They’re  just worrying about not messing up. Experience will change that. They’re going to keep working hard, learn from their mistakes and get better. As coaches, we just have to keep teaching them how to fix their mistakes and wait for them to emerge. Next week, we’ll be a little better, and then the following week we’ll be a little better, and so on.”

Southern’s next game is at Lacey Township on Saturday, Sept. 15. Kickoff is at 1 p.m. The Rams return home to battle Marlboro on Saturday, Sept. 22, at 7 p.m.

— Eric Englund

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