High School Football is Finally Here
FITCHBURG -- Breathe it in, folks. Breathe in the air -- it smells like football.
The new season begins tonight, with an intriguing Paper City/Cycle City matchup: new-look Fitchburg making the short, 10-minute drive from Crocker Field to the seaward side of Tar Hill to take on Tom Bingham’s St. Bernard’s Bernardians.
Game time is 7 p.m. at the Bernardian Bowl.
FHS-St. B’s should be a runner’s love, as both teams have massive run games in place: Fitchburg has junior Luis Aldarando, an explosive, shifty back making the jump to varsity, and St. Bernard’s has a plethora of runners that the Red Raiders need to keep in check.
Bingham is high on Townsend’s Xavier Marty, another quick, explosive speedster making his return to the grid.
“We just have to play disciplined football,” Fitchburg coach Tom DiGeronimo said earlier this week. “You have to play disciplined, eliminate the big plays, and just play smart.”
For St. Bernard’s, Bingham acknowledges that just like last year’s meeting at Crocker, Friday night is an “uphill climb.”
“Make no bones about it: we’re swinging uphill, we’re climbing the mountain, they’re four divisions higher than us; they’ll show up with 120 kids, they’ll bring four busses, they’ll bring the band,” Bingham said. “We embrace that. We love it.”
Sweens’ Keys: Who wins in the trench, and who out-runs who?
The game up front will be incredibly important for both Fitchburg and St. Bernard’s. Which side opens the bigger holes for their respective running backs? And just as important: Can the respective secondaries not stare at the wrong side of the running back’s jersey?
Does Fitchburg bite on the Bernies’ jet sweep? That’s St. B’s bread and butter offensive play, which means the FHS outside linebackers will need to prep for the wingback coming around.
Will the Blue and Gold have to put a few in the box to slow Aldarando down?
Both Fitchburg and St. Bernard’s check off the athleticism boxes, so it leads to this: Which team is better conditioned to handle 44 minutes of speed and endurance?
In other action around the area this weekend:
Leominster will get its first look at sophomore quarterback J.C. Cora this week as the Blue Devils head down to Route 85 and Kelleher Field to take on Marlboro.
In addition, Oakmont Regional heads over to Lunenburg for an epic season opener between the old Thanksgiving rivals; Nashoba Regional heads up to Groton-Dunstable Regional; Monty Tech hosts Bartlett of Webster; North Middlesex Regional opens the Ryan DeMar era with a trip to Grafton, and Ayer Shirley heads to Clinton.
Other games of note Friday night: Doherty heads to Wachusett, Shrewsbury heads to Shepherd Hill, and Assabet Valley makes an incredibly short drive to Hudson.
On Saturday, Gardner hosts Tyngsboro at Stone Field. It’ll be the first time since 1976 that football is played at the old yard on Elm Street.