If there’s one word that Micah Morel could use to describe his anticipation for the 2012 football season, it isn’t excited or nervous or happy.
Since Brockton lost to Bridgewater-Raynham last Thanksgiving to be kept out of the playoffs with a 5-6 overall record, the senior safety has felt something different all offseason.
Hungry to prove that one of the worst statistical seasons in the program’s storied history is also a thing of the past, hungry to show that he can be as good as the many recent Boxer safeties to go on to play Division I football, hungry to help a famished offense reach the end zone after not being able to do so at an alarming rate in 2011.
Most of all, Morel is starving, ravenous in anticipation to regain a once-proud program’s place among the state’s elite.
“There was a lot of emotion and feeling right after the season,” Morel said. “The number one thing is I’m just hungry to get back to what Brockton always was. There’s been so many greats and the last two years were really disappointing. We really need to turn the ship around and really, really get the ball rolling this year. We’ve really worked so hard as a team. We just need to take one good thing as it comes.”
Once a promising third baseman and outfielder on the baseball diamond, Morel has focused his workouts all offseason on improving himself as a football player under the tutelage of Michael Williams, who supervises an intense training regiment to those in the city who choose to accept it. Morel calls the workouts “one of the hardest things we’ve ever done.”
In addition to the current players that participate, some of the former Boxers that have moved on to the next level also come back and get involved. One former player that has had a particular influence on this group is current Boston College safety Dominique Williams, who is Michael’s nephew.
“I get to talk to [Dominique] quite a bit,” said Morel, who made four interceptions in his first year as a starter last season. “We text each other quite a bit and talk about football, life. I really listen to any tips he gives to me and the rest of the team. After last year, we’re really, really focused on working together as a team. What he’s said to us motivate us really got us. I can honestly say we worked harder as a team than any season I can think of.”
“The thing [Morel] has in common [with previous Boxer defensive backs] is the awareness you look for in a guy in that position,” said Brockton defensive coordinator and secondary coach Bobby O’Neill. “He understands the big picture, takes on the responsibility of making the checks.
“A lot of those guys going into their senior year, it just clicked and became good football players. At that position, it doesn’t always happen overnight. As a junior, Dominique would be in position a lot of times and just didn’t finish. As a senior, he did. [Morel] is very similar. In the run game, I think you’ll see a vast improvement. I think the pass game he’s going to be fine. He learned a lot last year. I expect it to all come together. He’s worked hard. He’s been in the system three years. I expect it to all come together.”
Morel definitely wants to put his name in there as the next Brockton defensive back to get a Division I scholarship. But he makes a clear distinction that the only thing that will fill the hole in his stomach left by last year’s famine is getting his high school team back to its winning ways.
“I’m getting some good interest (from colleges), but I’m focused on winning right now,” he said. “Once we keep winning one game at a time, the rest will take care of itself. I’m not concerned with playing selfish, individual ball out there. All that matters is winning and the rest will take care of itself.”
Sounds like he’s ready to eat.
BROCKTON AT A GLANCE
2011: 5-6 (2-0 in the Big Three)
Coach: Peter Colombo (10th season, 77-29-1)
Key Returnees: Austin Roberts, Sr. QB, 5-10, 185 lbs.; Micah Morel, Sr. S/RB/WR, 6-0, 190 lbs.; Joe Previte, Sr. OT/DT, 6-3, 250 lbs.; Anthony Davis, Sr. G/DT, 5-11, 250 lbs.; Moise Eduard, Sr. LB/RB, 5-8, 220 lbs.; Ricardo Calixte, Sr. OLB/RB/WR, 6-0, 195 lbs.; Malik Cooley-Walker, Sr. DT, 5-8, 240 lbs.; Jeff Celestin, Sr. DE/TE, 6-0, 220 lbs.; Max Castor, Sr. DE/TE, 6-0, 215 lbs.; Matt Adams, Sr. C, 6-2, 200 lbs.; Aaron LeClair, Jr. DB/RB, 5-8, 170 lbs.; Kervin Jean-Claude, Jr. LB, 6-0, 200 lbs.; Sebastian Porter, Jr. OT, 6-2, 270 lbs.
Strengths: Defense, offseason commitment.
Weaknesses: Offense, tough schedule.
Outlook: After a disappointing season in 2011, the Boxers have the potential to field the type of defense that this traditional powerhouse is used to with experience returning at every positional unit. Morel and LeClair lead the secondary while big things are expected from Calixte, Jean-Claude and Eduard at linebacker. Celestin, Castor, Cooley-Walker, Davis and Previte all saw significant action on the defensive line in 2011. However, it’s the offense that needs a major rebuilding job after getting shut out four times a year ago. Roberts returns as the team’s signal-caller and promises to steer an option attack that will feature a committee of backs. The offensive line returns four-year starters Previte and Davis and will be an overall experienced group that figures to be physically stronger than last year’s. We will know just how much this team has recovered from last year right away when it takes on BC High, Reading, Xaverian and St. John’s Prep in its first four games.