Joy-ful defense anchors No. 14 Chelmsford

CHELMSFORD, Mass. – The Chelmsford Lions concluded their 2010 season with a victory over rival Billerica, 21-14, on Thanksgiving Day. Chelmsford hopes to build upon that win as they return one of the state’s stingiest defenses led by two time captain and ESPN Boston All-State linebacker Tim Joy.

Joy, a Boston College commit, leads an experienced defensive unit that features 2011 ESPN Boston Preseason All-State defensive end Brett Harrington and a host of fellow seniors, including defensive back Cody Nazzaro, lineman Ryan Decoste and linebackers Corey Everleigh and Joey Christopher.

The No. 14 Lions are coming off of a 7-4 campaign last season and 17-year head coach Bruce Rich knows that he has a dedicated and experienced group led by Joy and his fellow seniors.

“We are excited for Tim Joy and for the Chelmsford High School football family,” said Rich of his senior captain’s commitment to the Eagles. “At the same time we also have a lot of other talented kids coming back.”

The Chelmsford offense will center around senior running back Eddie Sheridan. Sheridan saw split duty at tailback last season and had breakout games in the Lions’ two biggest wins of the season over Andover and Billerica.

“Eddie will be the primary ball carrier,” said Rich. “He has great speed and played very well for us last year in some big games.”

The quarterback position will be manned by senior Colby Emanouil, with fellow senior Pat McLaughlin potentially taking snaps there as well. Emanouil is a dynamic playmaker who lined up all over the field last season at wide receiver, running back, quarterback, and return man for the Lions.

“In my time here this may be the fastest group we have ever had,” said Rich. “We are deep and fast at the skill positions with four guys who run in the 4.5 (40 yard dash) range.”

Consistency and health will be key factors this season for the Lions, who had feature wins over MVC Large champion Andover, Billerica, and Acton-Boxborough last season but suffered numerous injuries to key players on both sides of the ball that factored in on their four MVC losses.

“Like I say every year you cannot rule anybody out in the MVC (Large),” said Rich. “Andover is the defending league champions, Billerica has one of the most explosive players in the history of the league in Nick LaSpada, Central Catholic beat us last year and Lowell also returns a lot of kids.”

With non-league foe Acton-Boxborough and the new additions of BC High and Westford Academy to the 2011 schedule, the Lions should be tested early out of the gate.


Last year: 7-4

Coach: Bruce Rich (17th year, 113-50-2)

Players to watch: Tim Joy, Sr., LB/TE, 6-2, 220 lbs.; Eddie Sheridan, Sr., RB, 5-10, 175 lbs.; Colby Emanouil, Sr., QB/ATH, 5-10, 175 lbs.; Corey Everleigh, Sr., LB/ WR, 5-9, 175 lbs.; Brett Harrington, Sr., DL, 6-3, 205 lbs.; Ryan Decoste, Sr., DL, 5-11, 210 lbs.; Joey Christopher, Sr., LB, 6-1, 185 lbs.; Lou Ferrer, Jr., DL, 6-0, 280 lbs.; Cody Nazzaro, Sr., DB, 5-10, 160 lbs.

Strengths: Team defense, speed.

Weaknesses: Passing game, experience on offensive line.

Outlook: Chelmsford returns an experienced and stout defense led by Joy and a slew of returnees. The return of Harrington on the defensive line and playmaking ability of Everleigh will be pivotal in shutting down the dynamic offenses in the MVC. Chelmsford will have a new starting quarterback as the athletic Emanouil will take over the regular duties after some seeing time at the position last year. The speedy Sheridan, who had a breakout game in a 35-7 win over Andover last season, will be the featured back with the graduation of three year starter and 2010 MVC Offensive MVP Joe Gennaro (Framingham St.) The offense will be fast, athletic and provide game breaking ability in the backfield and receiver positions.