WEYMOUTH, Mass. -- Kevin Mackin was in a very similar position a year ago.
Weymouth had questions at the quarterback position last year and Cam McLevedge helped answer those very, very quickly. McLevedge, who was in his first year as the varsity starting quarterback, turned in an unforgettable senior season with 41 passing touchdowns and eight more on the ground as Weymouth scored 38.1 points per game and just missed out on a playoff spot due to an early season loss to Needham.
This year, Mackin has similar questions with first-year starting varsity quarterback Jack Lehan. Lehan has spent the last two years as the starter on the junior varsity team, and now he gets his chance to show that the job is his and his alone as a first-time varsity player in his senior year.
“That’s a big piece of the offense,” Mackin said. “We’ve got a couple of guys there that I think can do the job. Obviously it comes with experience. Cam needed to get there and he did. These guys are going to need to get there this year.”
Lehan showed good command of the huddle in getting his weapons into the right places in the Wildcats’ spread offense during practice, and he was even impressive throwing accurately on the run. Lehan has been in the Wildcats system for the past three years and has learned by observing.
“They’ve been behind me my last three years,” Lehan said of the coaching staff and his teammates.” Cam helped me out last year in every practice. Now I have my chance this year.
“I learned what to look with all of the routes and all the fakes and all that. Watching Cam, he was a great example.”
The Wildcats are just one of the teams in Eastern Mass. looking to replace an impressive starting quarterback and skill position players. McLevedge, Khary Bailey-Smith and Sean Whouley helped spark one of the best offenses in Div. 1 and now Mackin is in need of a new crop of players to pick up the slack.
That’s the biggest quandary for most coaches, as they try to keep a watchful eye on younger players in the pipeline while coaching a talented team on the field.
“We are always working on the depth charts and maneuvering guys to make sure we are set should something happen or obviously planning for the next season and seasons beyond that," said Mackin. "The younger guys get their shot on JV and certainly get their shot in a lot of (lopsided) fourth quarters of games that we are playing. I think it’s a pride thing. They are willing to do the work, so we have a nice foundation and we are trying to build on that.”
Ozzy Colarusso is going to be key again for the Wildcats all over the field. It seems like the senior has been around for more than his four years, and now he will be asked to be the leader of the team and help transition the offense at the same time.
“I think he will,” Mackin said of Colarusso’s call to leadership. “When teams focus too much on him some of those younger guys are going to have an easier go of it. He’s a very unselfish player. He’s super-intense and he wants the ball. But he gets it.”
“I’ve been around here for a while and I really do think I’ve got to have a big leadership role,” added “Mr. Everything” Colarusso. “I mean it’s my senior year and it’s what I want. I want to have that leadership and that responsibility. I look at it at my team, so I hope it’s going to be a good year.”
WEYMOUTH AT A GLANCE
2011: 9-2 (9-2 Bay State Carey - Lost tiebreaker to Needham)
Head Coach: Kevin Mackin
Stengths: Speed, athleticism out of the backfield. Linebackers.
Weaknesses: Inexperience at some skill positions.
Key Returnees: Ozzy Colarusso, Sr., RB/DB, 6-0, 180lbs; Jack Lehan, Sr., QB, 5-10, 190lbs; Sean Murphy, Sr., G/OLB, 6-2, 190lbs; Tim Dennehey, Sr., C/DE, 5-10, 210lbs; Derrell Fernandez, Jr., RB/CB, 6-0, 200lbs; David Harrison WR/CB, Jr., 6-1, 190lbs; Jared Stokes, Sr., OT/DT, 6-3, 260lbs.
Outlook: The Wildcats had a stellar season, but were on the outside looking in when the playoff selections were made due to being on the wrong end of the tiebreaker with Needham. Mackin thinks that the defense, spearheaded by Sean Murphy, will be a little bit ahead of the offense, but there are enough weapons to get rolling quickly. Mackin’s first test is to find a replacement for McLevedge and Bailey-Smith on offense. The duo was one of the most potent in the state last year, and first year quarterback Jack Lehan will have to pick up the offense quick. Ozzie Colarusso is back and expect him to pick up even more of the slack all over the field. The Bay State Conference Carey looks to be another two-horse race between Needham and Weymouth, and one might think that matchup could be for the playoffs.