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Vizakis Is Bellingham’s Link to Franklin High Football

Oct 01, 2015 06:00AM ● Published by Kenneth Hamwey

written by KEN HAMWEY, Bulletin Sports Editor

Anthony Vizakis may not be a household name, but the 29-year-old Bellingham native is quickly becoming one of the most highly respected football coaches in the area. He’s already worked as an assistant at Durfee, Holliston and now at Franklin, where he’s been promoted to offensive coordinator.

An all-star at linebacker when he played at Bishop Feehan High and Bridgewater State, Vizakis earned three Super Bowl Rings after a superb schoolboy career that concluded with the Shamrocks compiling a record of 44-2 and winning Division 3 Super Bowl crowns against Pentucket, Duxbury and Masconomet.

Elevated to offensive coordinator at Franklin High after only one season as an assistant, Vizakis points to Bellingham as a key source for his successful rise: “I played Pop Warner football, Little League baseball and youth basketball when I was growing up in Bellingham; I remember being a catcher on travel teams in baseball. I had excellent coaches, and from grades one to eight I had great teachers—both at Macy School and the Junior-Senior High. Bellingham prepared me well for the future. The instructors and the coaches all cared, and that was important.”

As an eighth-grader, Vizakis started as a linebacker and fullback on Bellingham High’s freshman team. As a freshman, he sometimes got the call to play on the jayvee squad.

When Vizakis, a history major at Bridgewater, was working as a substitute teacher, he truly enjoyed the days he was assigned to Bellingham. “I often filled in at the high school and the middle school,” he said. “It was nice to return to where I started school.”

At Feehan (located in Attleboro), the 5-foot-9, 215-pound Vizakis had a dynamic career. Physical and hard-nosed, he started at linebacker as a sophomore and was a fullback his final two years. A captain, he led the Shamrocks in tackles as a senior (12 per game) and was chosen as an Eastern Athletic Conference all-star his senior year (2004).  “I didn’t get many running opportunities, but I gained 124 yards on 12 carries my senior year,” he noted.

His best game came against Dartmouth when he was a senior. He rushed four times, gained 57 yards and scored a touchdown. On defense, he had 15 tackles and two sacks. “That was a good effort,” he said about the shutout victory. “As far as top thrills go, that would be like winning three Super Bowl titles.”

An honor-roll student, Vizakis started at linebacker for two seasons at Bridgewater, leading the squad in tackles as a junior and senior. He was a captain and an all-star as a senior. “We won the Division 3 ECAC title my junior year,” he recalled. “My best game came that year (2006) against Worcester State. I had 14 tackles and clinched the game with an interception late in the fourth quarter.”

After earning his bachelor’s degree in 2008, Vizakis worked on a master’s in instructional technology, getting that degree in 2012. After teaching and coaching posts at Durfee and Holliston, he joined the faculty at Franklin and now is a teacher at the Horace Mann School. His new post as offensive coordinator in football is one in which he should excel.

“My roles will be to become a positive role model, help head coach Brad Sidwell lead the team and develop good student-athletes,” said Vizakis, who lives in Plainville. “I was excited when I got the news. Brad seemed to like my effort with the players, the way I review films and the way I try to help correct any deficiencies our players may have.”

Sidwell, who also is Franklin’s athletic director, said he was pleased to have a coach like Vizakis on his staff. “Anthony is an excellent teacher, both in the classroom and on the football field,” Sidwell emphasized. “He’s got lots of energy, he’s respected and he has great ability relating to the kids.”

Vizakis said he will be aggressive and creative as a coordinator. “You develop a style based on your talent,” Vizakis emphasized. “If you’ve got good runners, then you rely on a ground game. If you’ve got a good quarterback, then you throw the ball. This year, we have talent and lots of returnees who worked hard during the off-season. We should be competitive. Right now, I want to be the best coordinator I can be for Franklin. I do aspire to be a head coach and Brad and I have talked about it. That’s a goal for the future.”

Calling his parents, Debbie and John, role models for their support and encouragement, Vizakis, whose sister Carissa was an MVP at Bellingham in field hockey, relies on a competitive philosophy that focuses on winning. “You play to win and, if you win, then you’re having fun,” he said; “and winning makes you work to reach your potential.”

As a sophomore at Bridgewater State, Vizakis won the Unsung Hero Award, a sign that outstanding play would continue to be part of his future. He likely will be performing many unsung tasks at Franklin. Nevertheless, it’s a good bet he’ll be a head football coach in the not too distant future.

When that occurs, Anthony Vizakis no doubt will give Bellingham some credit. His knows his roots, and he’s never forgotten the importance of his early years in Bellingham.
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