DUXBURY, Mass. – To end Thursday’s football practice, Duxbury head coach Dave Maimaron led a coverage drill. It consisted of teams of six players, circling around Maimaron in the center of the field. Then, on the coach’s signal, the players would streak down field toward tackling dummies, which were set up on a three-sided perimeter.
As the players circled around Maimaron, they sang songs. One of them was Johnny Cash’s “Ring of Fire”.
The Green Dragons could have fallen into their own pit of despair in 2009. With seven sophomores seeing starts on both sides of the ball, Duxbury fielded a young team. Still, they posted a 9-3 record and earned their 10th league title.
Now, the Dragons are no longer green.
“When you have kids that played that well that early in their careers, you have to be excited,” Maimaron said. “Not only that, in practice, they’re the ones answering questions, not asking them. They get it now.”
That experience will pay dividends up the middle of the Duxbury defense.
As sophomores, free safety James Burke (106) and middle linebacker Max Randall (102) both broke the school record for tackles in a season, while Reilly Naton was a steady contributor at strong safety. Cornerback Adam Martin, who led the team with two interceptions as a junior, also returns.
Even though Duxbury lost perhaps its two best players on offense from 2009 — guard Aaron Kramer (BC) and running back Bobby Murphy (Cornell) — the Dragons have senior guard Colman Duggan and junior back Henry Buonagurio to fill those shoes. Duggan, a 6-2 road-grader, has gotten looks from Cornell and Holy Cross. Maimaron expects him to be a “dominant player on both sides of the ball this year.” Buonagurio averaged 5.3 yard per carry last year, while nearly splitting the load with Murphy.
Duxbury will also have its “Double Dragons” back under center next year with senior Kane Haffey and junior Matt O’Keefe in the mix at quarterback.
“They both can run well, they’re both super intelligent,” Maimaron said of his signal-callers. “Matt’s arm might be a little bit stronger and Kane’s might be a little bit more accurate, but they’re pretty close. They’re very similar. Most importantly, they both make good decisions.
“It’s a good problem to have.”
Duxbury’s real secret weapon comes in the kicking game, however. Senior punter/kicker Ben Startzell is about as good as it gets in Massachusetts. His father was a professional soccer player, so naturally Startzell grew up playing soccer. But, when he entered high school, he approached Maimaron with the proposition of kicking for the freshman football team.
It didn’t take long for Startzell to catch on.
“He went out there and started knocking them in from 30, 35,” Maimaron said. “I told him he’d be kicking on the varsity team soon.”
He added, “I’ve never seen a high school kids with a leg as strong as his. He was out there kicking them in from 60 over the summer.”
DUXBURY AT A GLANCE
2009 record: 9-3 (5-0 Patriot Keenan)
Coach: Dave Maimaron (sixth year, 50-20), lost to Marshfield in Division IIA playoffs
Players to watch: Ben Startzell, Sr., P/K, 6-2, 185 lbs.; Colman Duggan, Sr., G/LB, 6-2, 230 lbs.; Kane Haffey, Sr., QB/DB, 5-9, 170 lbs.; Matt O’Keefe, Jr., QB, 6-2, 185 lbs.; Max Randall, Jr., LB, 5-10, 180 lbs.; James Burke, Jr., WR/FS, 5-10, 165 lbs.
Strengths: Experience in secondary and linebacker, special teams and kicking game.
Weaknesses: Inexperience on defensive line.
Outlook: It will be interesting to see if the Dragons air it out more in 2010. Leading receiver Matt Hallisey (21 catches, 4 touchdowns) returns, but one name to look out for is junior Don Webber, who has legitimate 4.4 speed and bears watching this year. Another youngster to keep in mind is sophomore John Hurvitz who will be integral to the Dragons’ rushing attack. On defense, Duxbury’s base 4-3 could be mixed in with some three-man line looks to play to their strengths at linebacker and the secondary. But the Dragons will need to need to find players to step up alongside seniors Brett Harasimowicz and Nick Mann in the trenches.