If the Foxboro Warriors look unfamiliar this year, it’s likely due to the large amount of seniors that graduated last year. With only five regular starters returning to the team this year, the Warriors will take a lot of inexperience into Week 1 but still have plenty of weapons to make an impact during the season.
The Warriors will have a lot of work to do to fill the void left by graduation senior Kiivone Howard. Hockomock All-Star and captain Luc Valenza is expected to jump in at running back along with a four-five man rotation.
We don’t have Kiivone (Howard) because you don’t replace a kid like that but we have four or five kids who I feel are talented backs that will share the load,” head coach Jack Martinelli said. “There isn’t one of them other than Luc that will carry ball more than 20 times a game but they can get six to eight carries."
Underclassmen Keeyon Neal, Nylik Feaster, Jake Pond, and Ronnie Martin are expected to get some reps in the backfield.
Valenza will play both sides of the ball, taking over as linebacker on defense.
“He’s a kid that we can move anywhere in order for him to make the play. He’s very versatile,” Martinelli said.
Senior Nolan Rogers is expected to start at quarterback after winning the position from Xaverian transfer Conor Longley
Considered to be the deepest part of the team, the Warriors enter the season two to three deep in four wideout positions. Senior Captain Tim O’Halloran is expected to lead a receiving core that features Jess Todd, Gerard Darcy, and Derek Gilreath at tight end.
In the secondary, O’Halloran and Austin Gutierrez will likely be the cornerbacks with Jake Pond and Mark Wilson at the safety positions.
With the new tournament format this year, the Warriors will have seven games in eight weeks before the postseason begins. The change is a welcomed move for Foxboro who’s season rested on four divisional games instead of all the regular season games this year.
“Nobody can hide in these seven games. You got to play those seven games and if you are smart, you chose some pretty good non-league opponents that is going to help build your power ranking within the first three weeks, those are very important,” he said.
The Warriors will have two big challenges to start the year when they face one of the best teams in the state in Walpole in Week 1 and Whitman-Hanson in Week 2. Both schools are in Division 3 this year and feature enrollments much high than Foxboro.
“That’s all we ever do (play bigger schools). It’s a challenge for the kids that they seem to react well to,” he said.