The familiar face and sounds of Kevin Fleming won’t be barking out orders to his players on the sidelines at Belmont Hill this season.
Fleming retired as Belmont Hill head coach after an impressive run last season, with six ISL titles and two New England championships on his resume and a whole lot of experience leaving the campus.
Enter Christopher Butler into the captain’s chair.
Butler is no stranger to Belmont Hill. He has been an assistant coach, and a right-hand man to Fleming, for the past 14 years, and he’s ready to take on the challenge in his first go-round as the final voice and decision maker for the team.
“It’s one of those things where they are very big shoes to fill,” Butler said. “(Fleming) was a great coach, not only in football but hockey. He obviously had an outstanding record if you look at his accomplishments over the years. He did a terrific job with this program and we are just hoping to be able to keep up what he had going for so long.”
Fleming and Belmont Hill had a good thing going on last year, as it ran a 7-0 record in a quest to end the long-time head coach’s career on a very high not. Governor’s Academy had another idea in mind as it defeated its rivals 41-14.
“I think the kids look back on last year and feel as if they’ve had a successful year, but they were I think a little disappointed at the end,” said Butler. “We had two 7-0 teams, us and Governor’s, and that last game and they took it to us pretty good. For us, all the kids are excited to get the first game out of the way to start playing.
“We have a big senior class and we also have leadership from those seniors. We have a lot of kids who are really committed to football and we’ve got good depth at the skill positions.”
Butler will ask double-duty of most of his skilled players and Matt Gustafson will pull the bulk of the carries while also trying to stop those running against the defense from his middle linebacker position. Petros Davos could see time at quarterback and he will line up behind Gustafson on defense as a strong safety.
Butler knows it will have to be all hands on deck this season to get used to a new coach and also try and compete in a highly-competitive league.
“The level of football in the ISL is tremendous and every single week you are going to be challenged,” said Butler. “Every game counts. You don’t play any out of league opponents where if you drop a couple you are in trouble.”
BELMONT HILL AT A GLANCE
Coach: Christopher Butler (First season)
Last year: 7-1
Strengths: Senior class, depth at skill positions
Weaknesses: Changing parts on Offensive/Defensive line
Key returnees: Petros Davos, Sr., QB/DB, 5-10, 180 pounds; Matt Gustafson, Sr., RB/LB, 6-0, 202 pounds; Michael Leary, Sr., WR, 5-9, 172; Daniel Wagner, Sr., OL/DL, 6-1, 251 pounds; Dewey Jarvis, Sr., LB/TE, 6-2, 207 pounds; Nicholas Curtin, Sr., DB, 6-0, 185 pounds.
Outlook: The head man has changed at Belmont Hill, but the team has key seniors returning to the team as they look to improve on a 7-1 season a year ago. Petros Davos should see time at the quarterback position, while Matt Gustafson is back in his usual role as the lead running back. Anchoring an inexperienced line will by Daniel Wagners job. Keeping Davos clean and holes for Gustafson will be key towards sustaining drives. Dewey Jarvis returns after suffering an injury that cut short his season from a year ago.