Communication is paramount to the defensive secondary.
For Barnstable cornerback Derek Estes and safety Hayden Murphy, it’s almost involuntary. It’s borne out of spending a lot of time together: watching film, playing ball, hanging out. When I caught up with the pair for this story, after a recent morning preseason practice, Estes and Murphy were hanging out watching the latest installment of the Jason Bourne saga.
“I look at Hayden and he can read off my decisions and pick me up when I need a cover over the top,” Estes said.
To which Murphy added, “I’m Derek’s last line of defense, not that he doesn’t hold it down because he’s pretty good at what he does, but he knows I’ve his back, too.”
It reflects a certain level of cohesion that’s found with Barnstable’s program since Chris Whidden, who’s also the Red Raiders lacrosse head coach, became head coach three years ago.
Last year, the Red Raiders fell painfully short of winning the Eastern Mass. Division 1A Super Bowl at Gillette Stadium, losing by a point to Everett, after snapping the Crimson Tide’s 28-game winning streak earlier in the year with an overtime victory.
Barnstable isn’t interested in being a flash in the pan, however. The impetus is to push the program forward.
“My point to the kids is that I have no intentions to rebuild,” Whidden said. “That wouldn’t be fair to the seniors. We need to feel like we’re taking the best shot every year.”
So, with that, the Red Raiders have added a couple noteworthy opponents early on, playing up in Division against Catholic Conference power and fellow preseason Top 25 squads BC High and Xaverian. They’re hoping to set a tone for the season that will carry over to their penultimate Old Colony League rivalry game against Bridgewater-Raynham – an annual slugfest.
“Even though we’re listed in Division 2 now, we want people to think about us in that tier of being a Division 1 team,” Estes said.
BARNSTABLE AT A GLANCE
Coach: Chris Whidden (Third year, 18-6)
2012: 11-1, lost in Division 1A Super Bowl.
Key Returnees: Hayden Murphy, Sr. Ath./FS, 6-2, 200 lbs.; Derek Estes, Sr. CB/WR; Billy Grimmer, Sr. OG, 6-0, 260 lbs.; Dereck Pacheco, Sr. DE, 6-3, 225 lbs.; Justus Chaffee, Sr. RB/CB; Kristian Lucashensky, Sr. QB; Colby Blaze, Sr. WR/CB.
Strengths: Skill positions and secondary.
Weakness: Experience at linebacker.
Outlook: So what will the Red Raiders’ offense look like Week 1? It’s a question that’s worth asking and also one that could evolve over time. Gone is Nick Peabody. However, Whidden is high on senior Kristian Lucashensky, who studied under Peabody last year and saw mop-up duty. But Murphy also presents an intriguing backfield option. Having already played “quarterback” in Barnstable’s Wildcat scheme in previous years, don’t be surprised if the Red Raiders set up some kind of rotation under center, including Murphy. The key will be versatility on offense, and that will be enabled by running back Justus Chaffee, who should see an increased number of carries.
On defense, Barstable is built from the back out. Along with Murphy and Estes, Whidden is keen on senior corner Colby Blaze, who lost most of last season due to a collarbone injury and is among the top students in Barnstable’s senior class. Drew Lambert will also insert at strong safety. The focus is on the linebacking corps, which was among the best in the state last season. The Red Raiders are looking to fill some shoes, but Whidden is encouraged in the early going by middle linebacker Chris Kennedy, who saw action primarily at offensive guard last season. Adding to that theme, Whidden expects five players to start or make significant contributions on both sides of the ball.