ACTON, Mass. -- Throughout longtime Acton-Boxborough Regional High head coach Bill Maver’s tenure calling plays for the Colonials, he has rarely heard his team dubbed as the biggest or fastest. Maver dismisses those terms because he knows that as long as he has a good group of football players that believes in family, the team will succeed.
"With most of my teams, we'd probably get our butts kicked in a street fight," said Maver about his time at Acton-Boxborough. "But before each game I tell them play hard, play smart, play together and have fun."
That message has bred a lot of success for A-B in the last 25 years. However, the Colonials are coming off of a 6-5 year that most players deemed "disappointing", and the team doesn't have a lot of experience on either sides of the ball.
Sounding a bit cliché, Maver believes that the experience and talents of this team don’t matter in the end.
"Every year is different," said Maver. “You do the best you can with what you’ve got and take it one game at a time.”
Except this year, it appears things are drastically different. Maver — an old school Wing-T proponent — has altered the playbook so quarterback Mike Morris will take snaps in the shotgun while running the offense. The coaches hope that will allow him to get the ball to receivers Wes Schroll and David Immerman on the outside.
Senior co-captain and starting running back Eric Apgar showed plenty of talent last year before his season was cut short due to a fractured pelvis. With the transition of the offense, Apgar has bought into the family attitude at A-B, and doesn’t think the change in playbook is a sleight against him.
"I like the transition," said Apgar. "I won't get the ball as much but it’s fine with me as long as we're winning."
This kind of attitude has rubbed off on Maver's players for years. In fact, players have liked his coaching style so much that he now has six former Colonials on the coaching staff — including two of his own sons.
"It really says a lot about the coaching staff here and tradition at Acton-Boxborough," said Schroll. "The family part of it is awesome and Coach balances the good with the bad."
For right now though, A-B is trying to get back to that winning tradition. With a lot of holes to fill on the offensive and defensive lines, Maver believes his players just need to develop the intangibles.
"We have to get our 'mojo' back," Maver said. "I think we lost that last year. The intensity that we had in practice, and the leadership we saw from all of the kids — not just the captains — I think we lost that and need to get it back."
ACTON-BOXBOROUGH AT A GLANCE
2009 record: 6-5
Coach: Bill Maver (25 seasons, 200-61-1)
Players to watch: Wes Schroll, Sr., WR/FS, 6-3, 200 lbs.; David Immerman, Sr., WR/DB, 6-0, 190 lbs.; Devin Santilli, Sr., WR/DB, 6-0, 195 lbs.; Rob Gougen, Sr., RB/DB, 6-0, 185 lbs.; Colin Shaughnessy, Sr., OL/DL, 5-7, 195 lbs.; Ethan Dukes, Jr., RB/LB, 6-1, 195 lbs.; Mike Morris, Sr., 6-0, 175 lbs.; Eric Apgar, Sr., RB/LB, 5-10, 200 lbs.
Strengths: Discipline, skill positions
Weaknesses: Lack of size, offensive and defensive lines
Outlook: The Colonials have fast wide receivers and a few talented running backs but will have to sure up the offensive line in the coming weeks. They return one starter on the offense and defensive line combined, so they may be exploited up the middle. Apgar is the lone returning starter from a year ago in the entire defensive front seven. While the team is confident in Morris at quarterback and the speed it has in the defensive backfield, Acton-Boxborough will have a challenge early on in the season as they gain experience in the Dual County League.