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Warriors Sports

Hard Work and Lots of Faith Breed Positive Results for the Under 30

Posted Tuesday, November 25, 2008 by Bob Lesniak
   When you are a 28 strong varsity football team in a league the quality of the BSC your chances of winning even one game (even small-number teams like Dedham and Wellesley have numbers in the 40’s rather than 20’s) are very trite. Since Brookline High head coach Laz Mitjans and coordinators Rod Spinazola and Jason MacDonald took the reigns the varsity has had numbers so low that there is no junior varsity squad.

   Brookline was a team that had gone winless in 05. Not many top flight coaches would have been interested in taking over such a situation but one of the state’s  most respected coaches while at Natick, Framingham and Algonquin was and did. Mitjans entered the job feeling BHS had a positive grid future and continues to have faith in that belief. After recording one victory in 2006 and a pair in 07 the 2008 Mitjans-led Warriors have been the high school football version of The 300 (Spartans that is) as the relentless hard work of the players and strict but compassionate instruction of the coaches has Brookline residents actually giving a darnn about the Warrior football team for the first season in many.

   Being the Under 30 brings with it many dramatic negatives like players running out of gas by halftime thus failing to hold on to the ball when taking a hard hit in the second half of many games and having no JV system to serve as a connector in the transition from the freshman squad to the varsity.  Instead the coaching staff is haunted by the very real and somewhat justified threat of sophomores quitting the program. Next comes the threat of those sophomores not returning as juniors. Some return after a 2-year exile as seniors but what they are able to bring to the table is more like what one would expect from sophomores. Being 28 strong certainly creates a chaotic mess.

   With so many obstacles to face that players at other schools do not, the Under 30 amazingly remain interested and inspired and intent on winning. Credit that attitude to coaches Mitjans, Mac, Spin, Keith Ford, Phil Owens and Dale Karesek. This staff not only meets the challenge of keeping the young men believing in themselves but the coaches help draw the absolute best on-field performances from the Under 30.

   At 3-7 with only Thanksgiving morning remaining the Warriors are the ultimate example of a team being better than its record. This cliché has been attached to zillions of losing teams in all sports at all levels but few of those clubs actually made a habit out of outplaying the opposition. The Under 30 has outyarded its foes 2544-2527 from scrimmage. Please tell me another 3-7 football team that has achieved that. If not for the small numbers and the league’s worst turnover ratio these Warriors could sincerely be 7-3. At least!

   Testament to the fact Brookline’s record is misleading as to the talent and skills of its players was stamped a few days ago when the twelve BSC coaches selected the 2008 starting all-star team. The first team is voted while the second team is comprised of two players from each of the dozen schools, personally picked by the respective head coaches.

   Walpole (10-0) placed five players on the first team. No representatives from four schools (Braintree, Dedham, Wellesley and Newton North) were chosen. Brookline placed four in the starting all-star line-up, second only to the Rebels. No, you are not misreading this. Four warriors impressed the BSC coaches bigtime despite Brookline’s record. The coaches were knowledgeable enough to realize that sometimes (like THIS time) wins and losses are not the whole ball of wax.

   “Our best five or six players are as good or better than the best five or six on any BSC team and I would not trade my elite group for any other in the BSC,” stated Mitjans many times during the season. The rival coaches proved him right.

   Chad Hunte is one of the four starting linebackers as his 78 initial tackles, two sacks and three interceptions caught the voters’ attention. Kyle Hunte (40 receptions with five TDs and a 14.4 average per catch) not only garnered him more votes than any other receiver but earned more votes than BSC MVP Ryan Izzo of Walpole who is the league’s best runner and kicker and a great defender. Only Framingham QB Dave Guadagnoli received more votes than Kyle Hunte at ANY position. Izzo finished third in total votes but did have more votes than all other BSC running backs.

   “I am sure that Kyle impressed the voters not just with his stats but by the fact he achieved those numbers despite being constantly double-covered,” said Mitjans.

  Jeremy Miller had the second most votes among all BSC defensive backs despite having no interceptions to go with his 33 initial tackles. While Miller has compiled fine offensive stats (25 catches plus three 2-point conversion receptions and a rushing average of over five yards per carry to go with a fabulous punt return average of 19.4 on 19 returns) he has not had a statistically glamorous defensive campaign. “All he does is defend the opponent’s best wide receiver and knock down passes,” said Mitjans. “But most teams try to avoid throwing Jeremy’s way. I am thrilled that the coaches around the league realize Jeremy’s value as a defensive back.”

   Marc Lavarin is Brookline’s fourth first team all-star. With 50 initial tackles and three sacks Lavarin, like Miller, was avoided by opponents like the plague. Just a terrific 2-way lineman.

   Following the voting Mitjans selected Irvin Scott to the all-purpose position and Joel Parent to the running back spot as Brookline’s second team all-stars. Scott is probably the league’s second most valuable all-around player to Izzo. Although missing three games due to injury (losses to Walpole, Natick and Braintree) Scott has passed for 688 yards with five TDs and four two-point tosses.  Scott’s 42 of 75 completed passes averaged 16.4 yards as the junior drills darts 40 yards on a dime. Perhaps an even better runner than he is a passer Scott has rushed for 579 yards and five touchdowns while averaging 5.6 per carry. He has also converted four EPKs and is a fast, instinctive DB. A phenomenally versatile star.

   Parent , a two-way starter, has rushed for 536 yards and five TDs for a yard-per-carry average of 4.5, he has also caught a conversion pass.

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