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BHS Football Squad Aims to Overcome Inexperience

Strong Work Ethic Key to Playoff Berth

Staff Sports Writer

Bellingham High’s football team has competed in the playoffs for the last three years, but to make it four straight berths will be a challenge.

Although the 2022 edition of the Blackhawks has some key strengths — like athleticism, a good football IQ, a strong work ethic, speed, a capable offensive line, and a coachable nature — there are concerns. Coach Dan Haddad, who’s in his seventh year at the helm, lists inexperience as the team’s No. 1 drawback.

“We lack experience and size,’’ he said. “Our quarterbacks, running backs and receivers haven’t played together. We’re a sophomore-junior team that lacks in-game experience. We lost nine seniors and have only five experienced players. It is a rebuilding year, but I hate to use that word because our players have the ability to surprise people.’’

The 59-year-old Haddad has three goals for his squad, which opens its season at home against Blackstone-Millville on Saturday, Sept. 10.

“We want to get the players in-game experience, improve daily and qualify for the playoffs,’’ he emphasized. “A playoff berth may be a lofty objective, but we can achieve that goal because the kids aren’t afraid to work hard.’’

A solid work ethic is a plus for any team, and the Blackhawks’ captains are a good starting point in that regard. The leadership team includes seniors Ethan Silva and Michael Spera and juniors Corey Perkins and Donovan Turner. “They’re not rah-rah guys, but they lead by example,’’ Haddad said. “They’re take-charge players who know how to execute.’’

Although the offensive unit will need time to mesh, there is talent at the skill positions. Junior Dasha Domercant and sophomore Zach Berkeley will battle for the quarterback job. “Both are smart, have good arms, throw accurately and are very athletic,’’ Haddad said. “Their running ability also makes them a threat.’’

Perkins will start at halfback and be counted on heavily. “Corey is tough and shifty,’’ Haddad said. “He can run inside and to the outside and he does a good job as a blocking back.’’

Other backs include senior Gian Vaccarella, sophomore Gabe Egan, and freshman Michael Demers. “All three are hard-workers who hit the hole hard and make good decisions,’’ said Haddad.

There is experience and depth at wide receiver. Key wideouts include Spera, juniors Jeremiah Domercant and Connor Kelley, and sophomore Mason Jacques. “All of them run good routes, have great hands and they’re tough,’’ Haddad noted. “And they’ve got break-away speed after the catch.’’

Other wideouts who’ll compete for playing time are senior Steve Crummett, junior Anthony DaSilva, sophomore Max Gamble, and freshman Wyatt Callery. 

The offensive line is more than capable. The lineup will include Silva (senior tackle); Sean Dutremble, (junior guard); Turner (senior center); Isaiah Tobin (junior guard); and Connor Lalonde (senior tackle). “They’re strong, technically sound and effective as either run or pass blockers,’’ Haddad said. “They coachable and have a high football IQ.’’

Other linemen aiming for playing time are junior Connor Bernard, sophomore Jack Davidson, and seniors Phil Ghazali and Jeff Caruso.

On defense, there’ll be Silva at tackle, Lalonde at nose tackle, and Turner, Ghazali and Davidson at defensive end. Others who’ll provide depth include Caruso, Bernard and Dutremble. “They’re all physical and have good technique,’’ said Haddad. “There’s not a lot of size but they’re strong, nevertheless.’’

The linebacking corps will feature senior Brady Pelletier, Tobin, Kelley, Vaccarella and Callery. “They’re physical, quick and their downhill pursuit is excellent,’’ said Haddad. “They’re strong hitters who are instinctive and able to read and react quickly.’’

The cornerbacks include DaSilva, sophomore Ryan Cochrane, Gamble, Egan, and Spera. “There’s no clear-cut starter yet, but they’re all coachable, work hard and improving their technique,’’ Haddad offered. “They’re instinctive and still learning.’’

The safeties are Jeremiah Domercant, Perkins, Crummett and sophomore John Doucette. “This group includes great tacklers who’ve got good recovery speed,’’ Haddad said. “They recover quickly on a mis-read. They’re also athletic and coachable.’’

Crummett will be the Blackhawks’ prime special-teams player. He’ll be punting, kicking off and lining up field goals. “Steve loves everything about kicking,’’ Haddad emphasized. “He’s got good leg strength, an incredible work ethic, high energy, and confidence. He spent the off-season fine-tuning his game and focusing on accuracy.’’

The Blackhawks will play five games in the Tri Valley League’s Small Division (Dover, Medway, Millis, Dedham and Norton) and four non-league encounters (Blackstone-Millville, Westwood, Medfield and Ashland). Two contests will be against either playoff squads or non-playoff contingents. “The teams to beat in the Small Division will be Norton and Dover,’’ said Haddad. “They’re talented, they’ve got numbers and they’re well-coached.’’

Relying on a coaching philosophy that stresses reaching one’s potential and enjoying one’s athletic journey, Haddad believes that winning will be the by-product if those ingredients are in the mix. “They key is to reach your potential by being competitive,’’ he emphasized.

The personable Haddad also is a firm believer that valuable life lessons can be learned by playing football and he’s got an impressive list. “Some life lessons football teaches are overcoming adversity, learning how to be a leader and a good teammate, setting goals, building character and managing time,’’ he said.

Bellingham’s assistant coaches are Chris Haddad (defensive coordinator), Dan Haddad (offensive coordinator), Derek Fernandes (quarterbacks/safeties), Pat McGovern (both lines), Dan Gavin (linebackers/sub-varsity), John Imparato (sub-varsity), Parker Silva (linebackers/sub-varsity), and Jamie Dutremble (sub-varsity).

Haddad and his assistants will face a challenging schedule. Qualifying for a playoff berth won’t be easy. Some might rank that chore as a Herculean task. But, don’t count the 2022 edition of the Blackhawks out.

They may be inexperienced, but they’ve got some valuable attributes.

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