Bridgewater State College football team hopes to pick up where it left off
September 2, 2009
By Jim Fenton, Enterprise Staff Writer
BRIDGEWATER - The Bridgewater State College football team finished the 2008 season in impressive fashion.
The Bears won six straight games, outscoring opponents by a 234-98 margin, and wound up sharing first place with Maine Maritime Academy in the New England Football Conference Bogan Division.
That sizzling finish, though, was not enough to get BSC into the NEFC championship game as it lost to Maine Maritime during a disappointing 1-3 start, giving the Mariners the tiebreaker.
When the Bears begin a new season on Saturday, hosting Mount Ida College at noon at Swenson Field, the goal will be to pick up where they left off last fall.
"We want to keep that momentum going," said senior linebacker and captain Casey Florence of Bridgewater. "The last six weeks of the season, we thought we were the best team in the conference. We were real hungry for another game. We have a lot of guys back and, hopefully, that momentum keeps going."
The program will be celebrating the 50th anniversary of football returning to BSC after an absence of more than three decades. The Bears have been picked to win the Bogan Division in a poll of NEFC coaches.
Coach Chuck Denune, who is 30-10 in four seasons, knows BSC can't afford another sluggish start in order to make that happen.
"We keep losing one division game and it keeps coming back and haunting us," said Denune, coming off a 7-3 season. "The key thing will be to build towards division play, but, obviously, we want to come out those first three games and build every week and peak a little bit earlier this year.
"It was definitely nice to win those last six games because no one was done playing last year. They all wanted to continue. We felt we were good enough to continue, and they ended the season hungry. They've got a little chip on their shoulder. They want this. This is a big senior class and they know this is it, the last shot. They're going to give it everything they have.
"I think last year was a little bit of a combination of we had some really strong competition at the beginning of the year and I think we were very young still at a lot of places. This year, we're a year older and defensively we should be ready to play very quickly. If we can just get the offense moving relatively soon, we're going to be right in the picture with everybody."
The strength of the defense figures to be at linebacker where Florence (team-high 56 tackles and a two-time All-Bogan Division pick), Jason Flannery of Bridgewater (third with 52 and a second-team All-Bogan Division selection) and John Ferbert of East Bridgewater (tied for fourth with 49) have returned.
Captain Chris Dijak, who was second with 55 tackles and had a team-best seven sacks and has 14 1-2 career sacks, will anchor the line at tackle. He will be joined by Garrett Dyer, Steve Tripp, Paul Melicharek, a transfer from Worcester Polytechnic Institute, and Jacob Curran.
Josh Duquette of Plymouth, one of the Bears' leading defensive players in 2007 when he made the all-conference team, returns after missing last season and will bolster the secondary. He will be joined by John Farroba (42 tackles, three interceptions), Jordan Thompson and Kevin Laudano.
"We'll definitely lean on our defense early," said Denune. "They've got the most returners and we're very excited about how good they could be."
Offensively, BSC welcomes senior quarterback Steve Clark back to active duty after he sat out last season with an injury.
Clark has rushed for 1,159 yards and 10 touchdowns and thrown for 1,148 yards and 14 TDs in his career and has a quarterback rating of 161.91.
"He does everything well," said Denune. "He runs well, throws well. He reads the option well. He was the MVP of our 2007 team."
Bruce Burley, the program's third all-time leading rusher with 2,636 yards, will have to be replaced. Junior Jeff Creeden ran for 472 yards and five TDs a year ago, and Justin Fuller, Jarek Ulak, Mike Moitoza of Taunton and Jason Azulay will be in the picture.
Clark's main weapons at wide receiver figure to be Jesse Teixeira of Taunton and Dominique (Nikko) Beck of Brockton.
Teixeira, an All-Bogan Division first team selection, had 1,086 receiving yards on 43 catches with 13 touchdowns.
Beck, who will also be a backup quarterback, transferred to BSC after playing three seasons of basketball at Clark University.
Captain Tony Cina of Hanson, who has consistently been one of the leading tight ends in the NEFC, returns and freshman Evan Taylor of Stoughton and Azulay will receive playing time at that position.
The line is anchored by senior guards Joel Nunes of Taunton and Jeff Smith, a captain. Dan Nunes of Taunton and Chris Grande also have experience and left tackle and center, respectively, with Andrew Carr moving to right tackle from defense.
"The offense is one of the things where we are unproven, but we're very excited about what they could be," said Denune. "There's a lot of talent there, but we don't have a lot of time to teach a lot of new guys a lot of things."