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    2017 Division 8 high school football previews

    Here is a look at each EMass football team in Division 8 heading into the 2017 season.

    DIVISION 8 NORTH

    Boston English

    Coach: Ryan Conway (2nd season). Career: 4-7.

    Last year’s record: 4-7

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    Strengths: Hunger, excitement, enthusiasm.

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    Concerns: Inexperience, depth.

    Offense: Multiple

    Playing surface: Artificial turf

    Outlook: With just two seniors on the roster and not many returning starters, what this season’s Boston English team lacks in experience it makes up for in enthusiasm. ‘‘We’re young, we’re hungry, and the kids have a great attitude,’’ English coach Ryan Conway said. One of the senior leaders ready for an impact season is offensive and defensive lineman Cyril Blair. Junior safety David Robinson and running back Garry Robinson are also poised for big years. English saw a lot of their upperclassmen transfer after last season and now coach Conway is trying to establish as much consistency in the program as he can. ‘‘I’m trying to change the culture of English football,’’ Conway said. ‘‘I’m these seniors third head coach so there hasn’t been to much consistency here. The goal is to get better every day and create a family environment.’’

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    Season opener: Friday, Sept. 8, 6 p.m., vs. O’Bryant

    Burke

    Coach: Byron Beaman (7th season). Career: 19-44.

    Last year’s record: 5-5

    Strengths: Experience.

    Concerns: Depth.

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    Offense: Multiple

    Playing surface: Grass

    Outlook: Burke is looking to improve on last season’s 5-5 mark. The Bulldogs scored an average of 18 points per game while allowing 20.6 points a season ago. It’s not out of the question to think Burke can improve with running back Israel Lara returning for his senior campaign. Defensively, linebacker Rishaad Sheppard will anchor the middle of the field. Cornerback Ernst Clercin will look to solidify the secondary while defensive end Jawon Stone is a force up front. Burke will need to find a new quarterback this season but if they fill that role they could be a dangourous team in the Boston City League South.

    Season opener: Friday, Sept. 15, 7 p.m., at Weston

    Cathedral

    Coach: Paul Sobolewski (2nd season). Career: 9-2 (64-67 overall).

    Last year’s record: 9-2

    Strengths: Offensive line, running backs.

    Concerns: Depth.

    Offense: Spread

    Playing surface: Artificial turf

    Outlook: Running back Khalil Blair exploded onto the scene last season, leading Division 4 in scoring with 31 touchdowns. Blair is back and ready to pick up where he left off. Cathedral will also have quarterback Anthony Mejia and running back Khamal Headon back this season along with four of last years starting offensive lineman, making the Panthers one of the more dangerous offenses in Division 8. Senior Randy Williams will be starting at center for the third year while 6-foot-2 260-pound tackle Jose Delosantos is also returning for his senior campaign. Cathedral has seven returners on defense led by linebacker Ajan Nelson. Cathedral is trying not to look too far ahead but it’s easy to envision this team making a deep tournament run.

    Season opener: Friday, Sept. 8, 6 p.m., at Latin Academy

    Charlestown

    Coach: David Cahill (4th season). Career: 3-25.

    Last year’s record: 1-8

    Strengths: Quarterback.

    Concerns: Inexperience at skill positions.

    Offense: Spread

    Playing surface: Artificial turf

    Outlook: With just one returning starter from last season the Charlestown football team will have a lot of new players on the field come week one. Center Deandre Smith is the lone returner for the Townies. Despite the lack of returners Charlestown is entering the season with experience at quarterback. After transferring from South Boston, Steven Williams is set to make his Charlestown debut under center. Williams is a talented passer and ran a similar spread attack with the Knights last year. The addition of Williams allowed Charlestown to move Quarmise Epps from quarterback to his natural position of receiver, giving Williams a dependable option on the outside.

    Season opener: Saturday, Sept. 16, 2 p.m., at Pope John

    Lynn Tech

    Coach: James Runner (8th season). Career: 30-44.

    Last year’s record: 4-7

    Strengths: Experience, depth, senior leadership.

    Concerns: Inexperience at defensive line.

    Offense: Multiple

    Playing surface: Artificial turf

    Outlook: Lynn Tech is looking to build off a 2016 campaign which ended in the Division 4 quarterfinals; and with 15 returning starters (eight on offense, seven on defense) they may be in a position to do just that. The Tigers have a run first offense with Steffan Gravely and Keoni Gaskin combining for a dynamic backfield and senior captain Kevin Aguilar anchoring the offensive line. Senior captain Marcus Taylor is the leader on defense where he’ll anchor the secondary. The Tigers will have to start the year with a new quarterback but coach James Runner is confident in junior David Barrios. ‘‘David is a phenomenal athlete. He’s a hurdler for us in track, and he just has the most unbelievable drive,’’ Runner said of Barrios. ‘‘He’s a great athlete but he’s an even better decision maker. We don’t really pass the ball to much but when we do pass he makes me feel good because he’s efficient.’’

    Season opener: Saturday, Sept. 16, 7 p.m., vs. Mystic Valley

    Madison Park

    Coach: Roosevelt Robinson (23rd season). Career: 126-91-1.

    Last year’s record: 3-6

    Strengths: Leadership.

    Concerns: Depth.

    Offense: Wing T

    Playing surface: Artificial turf

    Outlook: After a 3-6 season last year Madison Park will try to climb out of the basement of the Boston City League standings. To do that MP will have to find a way to replace the production of quarterback Jordan Pimentel, and running back Stephon Anderson, both of whom graduated last season. The Cardinals scored an average of 11.8 points per game last year while allowing an average of 22.6 per game. Madison Park has a lot of young players so coach Roosevelt Robinson is stressing fundamental football in the early part of the season. If they can get the fundamentals down, look for Madison Park to make a splash in the City League this year.

    Season opener: Friday, Sept. 15, 4 p.m., vs. O’Bryant

    Marian

    Coach: Harry Lesage (2nd season). Career: 9-12.

    Last year’s record: 4-7

    Strengths: Experience, skill positions.

    Concerns: Defense, tackling.

    Offense: Triple option

    Playing surface: Artificial turf

    Outlook: With seven starters returning, including at quarterback, running back, and receiver, the Mustangs are poised to have a potent offensive attack. Quarterback Emmanuel Capellan, running back Miguel Perez, and receivers Jose Morales and DeShawn Lopez are all back this season. While the Mustang offense is full of experience, the defense will have a lot of new faces. According to coach Harry LaSage the defense preformed well in the team’s first scrimmage, but tackling is an area that needs improvement. One goal is to work better as a team. ‘‘The kids realized that working together as a team is how we’re going to have a successful season.’’ LaSage said.

    Season opener: Saturday, Sept. 9, 1 p.m., at Tri-County

    Matignon

    Coach: Michael Hill (1st season). Career: 0-0.

    Last year’s record: 1-11

    Strengths: Skill positions.

    Concerns: Depth.

    Offense: Power I

    Playing surface: Artificial turf

    Outlook: With five returning starters on both sides of the ball, Matignon will enter the season with experience at the skill positions. Running back Jayhai Aubri is back in the backfield after leading the team in rushing touchdowns last year. The Warriors also have talented receivers with Pat Macaroni and Connor Lewis both returning. Matignon coach Michael Hill is also excited about first-year receiver John Giannone. Giannone is an explosive athlete with the potential to develop into a deep threat for the Warriors.

    Season opener: Friday, Sept. 8, 7 p.m., vs. Minuteman

    Minuteman

    Coach: Brian Tildsley (10th season). Career: 37-54.

    Last year’s record: 0-10

    Strengths: Leadership.

    Concerns: Depth.

    Offense: Multiple

    Playing surface: Grass

    Outlook: After a tough 0-10 season last year, Minuteman will have its hands full replacing productive quarterback Dave Andrade and running back Sam Lackey. Junior running back Ngnor Manyang will be replacing much of the production in the backfield. Junior Darian Casseus is another backfield option. Casseus is elusive out of the backfield but can also be a viable passing option. Minuteman averaged just 11.8 points per game last season. If they can score a few more points this team could add a few tallies to the win column.

    Season opener: Friday, Sept. 8, 7 p.m., at Matignon/Saint Joseph Prep

    New Mission

    Coach: Michael Pittman Forman (6th season). Career: 16-33.

    Last year’s record: 5-5

    Strengths: Defensive and offensive line.

    Concerns: Inexperience at quarterback.

    Offense: Pistol

    Playing surface: Artificial turf

    Outlook: New Mission is entering the season with 11 returning starters. But with most of the returning experience on the defensive side of the ball, the Titans offense will take some time to get up to speed. New Mission will need to find new starters at quarterback, running back, and receiver. Takaki Hobbs looks to replace the production in the backfield while Dradae’ Montissoi will be a threat on the outside. Andrew Franklin and Tristan Champagne are battling for the starting quarterback position and New Mission coach Michael Pittman-Foreman hasn’t ruled out using both quarterbacks depending on the scheme. Champagne is a more traditional quarterback with good arm strength and accuracy while Franklin, a converted running back, is a better athlete. Defensively, New Mission is more sound with six returning starters. Lineman Chris Marks will be the leader on the defensive side of the ball.

    Season opener: Friday, Sept. 8, 6 p.m., vs. East Boston

    South Boston

    Coach: Germaine Sattiewhite (1st season). Career: First season.

    Last year’s record: 2-7

    Strengths: Offensive line

    Concerns: Inexperience at quarterback

    Offense: Pro set

    Playing surface: Artificial turf

    Outlook: The big guys up front seldom get much credit, but their success often drives the offensive unit. With four returning starters, the South Boston offensive line is the strength of the team. Wilson Sanon, Carols Iobolo, Marcos Roman, and Jason Dorsainvil are all back this season, and will be joined by guard Jaleel Orlebar. South Boston’s offense returns six starters but will have big holes to fill, including at quarterback. With a small roster, coach Germaine Sattiewhite has elected to push his players mentally rather than physically this preseason in an effort to reduce injuries. The team won’t scrimmage, so the September 16 game against Atlantis Charter will be the first look at Sattiewhite’s new pro set offense.

    Season opener: Saturday, Sept. 16, 12 p.m., vs. Atlantis Charter

    Tech Boston

    Coach: Raul Brown (3rd season). Career: 14-7.

    Last year’s record: 6-5

    Strengths: Skill positions

    Concerns: Inexperience at defensive line

    Offense: Spread

    Playing surface: Artificial turf

    Outlook: Tech Boston has a potent spread attack and has put up a lot of points in recent years. This year should be no different as the Bears enter the season with seven returning starters on offense. The returners include running back Ajaye Cooper, wide receiver Marcus Gonzalez and all-around athlete Jaron Harrison. Defensively, linebackers Mason Osorio and Devondre Morgan will be calling the shots. Tech Boston is returning five starters on defense but did lose starters on the defensive line. If the new defensive linemen perform well the Bears will be right in the mix in the Boston City League.

    Season opener: Friday, Sept. 8, 7 p.m., at Georgetown

    West Roxbury

    Coach: Derek Wright (6th season). Career: 16-38.

    Last year’s record: 3-8

    Strengths: Versatility, experience.

    Concerns: Depth at offensive line.

    Offense: Multiple

    Playing surface: Artificial turf

    Outlook: With seven returning starters on each side of the ball, West Roxbury is entering the season with a good amount of experience. One position that will need to be filled is quarterback. Erven Exhilhomme is the favorite to land the starting job after filling in at times last season. Michael Cruz will be back for the Raiders at running back along with Louis Pina. The offensive line is a cause for concern entering the season as West Roxbury graduated three starters from last year. Derek Bertucci will be the leader on this year’s unit. After a 3-8 season, coach Derek Wright’s biggest goal for this fall is to just improve week to week. ‘‘As far as expectations, I just look for them to improve each week,’’ Wright said. ‘‘As long as they continue to improve I’d be happy with that.’’

    Season opener: Friday, Sept. 8, 5 p.m., vs. Pope John

    DIVISION 8 SOUTH

    Bishop Connolly

    Coach: Jay Furtado (1st season). Career: First year.

    Last year’s record: 3-7

    Strengths: Fullback

    Concerns: Inexperience

    Offense: Power I

    Playing surface: Grass

    Outlook: With many holes to fill, coach Jay Furtado hopes to rebuild the Cougars this year. ‘‘I’m basically coaching a freshmen football team at the varsity level,’’ he said. After a tough season last year, some players left the program. Furtado, whose main goal now is to have players understand how to play the game, picked Ethan Medeiros as his quarterback, despite the fact the junior has never played the position. Senior Matt Cliff will line up at fullback.

    Season opener: Friday, Sept. 8, 7 p.m., at Mashpee

    Blue Hills

    Coach: Ed Catabia (10th season). Career: Career: 67-35.

    Last year’s record: 8-5

    Strengths: Speed

    Concerns: Inexperience in certain areas

    Offense: Wing T

    Playing surface: Artificial turf

    Outlook: For the Warriors, it’s all about being competitors this year. After falling, 19-18, to Old Colony in the first round of the playoffs last year, they are aiming to be aggressive this season. ‘‘We need to be competitors first before we think about anything else,’’ said coach Ed Catabia. ‘‘We need to put 11 on the field and we need to be competitive as a team. We are trying to build up the team so everybody understands what’s going on with the program.’’ The Warriors will rely on quarterback Andrew Bryant and running back Adrian Wright to lead the team.

    Season opener: Friday, Sept. 8, 4 p.m., vs. Hull

    Cape Cod Tech

    Coach: Chris Leonard (7th season). Career: Career: 7-49.

    Last year’s record: 3-8

    Strengths: Running backs, backfield, and linebackers.

    Concerns: Young offensive line and defensive backs

    Offense: Read option

    Playing surface: Grass

    Outlook: With seven skillful seniors graduated, Cape Cod will rely on running backs, Archer Estenvil and Marcus Aylmer, who combined for around 1,400 yards last year. After a 3-8 season, coach Chris Leonard said that their main focus is to be competitive in the league. ‘‘We got the horses to do it so we are trying to get kids in position so they get ready to roll,’’ said Leonard.

    Season opener: Saturday, Sept. 9, 1 p.m., vs. Monomoy

    Coyle & Cassidy

    Coach: Chris Pabst (3rd season). Career: Career: 3-19.

    Last year’s record: 1-10

    Strengths: Experience and offensive line

    Concerns: Depth and staying injury-free

    Offense: Triple option

    Playing surface: Grass

    Outlook: The Warriors will look to make the playoffs in their third year under coach Chris Pabst. The Warriors graduated five seniors, including Connor Rodriguez, their all-time leading rusher from the last two years. Eleven seniors with experience playing both ways will improve the team overall. The Warriors also have quarterback Jackson Murray, who accounted for three TDs while playing the final four games of last season.

    Season opener: Friday, Sept. 8, 7 p.m., vs. Nauset

    Holbrook

    Coach: Mark Killinger (1st season). Career: First year.

    Last year’s record: 0-9

    Strengths: Size and athleticism

    Concerns: Inexperience

    Offense: Double wing

    Playing surface: Artificial turf

    Outlook: The Bulldogs were winless last fall and plan on rebuilding with new coach Mark Killinger. ‘‘We want to just build some of our philosophies and hopefully, you know, get them in the W column,’’ said the coach. Senior Davonte Lacy will take over at quarterback. Leading rusher, Jeremiah King, returns after taking last season off. Killinger believes linebackers Rahsai Banks-Lee and Patrick Colas will be key players on defense.

    Season opener: Saturday, Sept. 9, 11 a.m., vs. South Shore Voc-Tech

    Hull

    Coach: Michael O’Donnell (1st season). Career: First year.

    Last year’s record: 4-7

    Strengths: Offensive and defensive line

    Concerns: Depth

    Offense: Wing T

    Playing surface: Grass

    Outlook: The Pirates welcome coach Mike O’Donnell after 14 seasons under Jack McGrath. Despite graduating many starters, O’Donnell hopes to clinch a spot in the playoffs this year. ‘‘We had a very good offseason, which was one of the goals,’’ he said. Senior Will Nolan and sophomore Trevor MacDonald will compete for the quarterback job. The coach is expecting big seasons from running back Christian Olivieri and junior center Christian Amador.

    Season opener: Friday, Sept. 8, 4 p.m., at Blue Hills

    Millis

    Coach: Dana Olson (4th season). Career: 25-10.

    Last year’s record: 10-3

    Strengths: Experience and Speed.

    Concerns: Injuries.

    Offense: Spread

    Playing surface: Grass

    Outlook: The defending Division 4A Super Bowl champs are hoping to stay healthy this year. ‘‘If we stay healthy we will be a competitive team. I know it sounds cliche to say, but without any injuries we will go far,’’ coach Dana Olsen said. Although the Mohawks lost three offensive players for the upcoming season, they are relying on their star quarterback Bryce Latosek and running back Kurt Hopkins to lead the team. Hopkins, who had 1,160 yards and 12 touchdowns last season, will have a powerful role to take the Mohawks once again to the state tournament.

    Season opener: Friday, Sept. 8, 7 p.m., vs. Holliston

    Old Colony

    Coach: Brandon Mendez (3rd season). Career: 13-10.

    Last year’s record: 6-6

    Strengths: Seven returning starters.

    Concerns: Quarterback and offensive line.

    Offense: Spread

    Playing surface: Grass

    Outlook: The Cougars graduated their entire offensive line but do add new young talent to the roster. Sophomores Kyle School and Matt Bumpus will battle to earn the quarterback position. Senior Jarred Gagne, who rushed for 750 yards last year, is expected to have a huge impact again for the Cougars. ‘‘We are going to be competitive,’’ coach Brandon Mendez said. ‘‘Give it a run on the league and try to be a tough team.’’

    Season opener: Saturday, Sept. 9, 1 p.m., vs. Sacred Heart

    Randolph

    Coach: Chris Boswell (1st season). Career: 0-0.

    Last year’s record: 2-9

    Strengths: Leadership.

    Concerns: Player safety.

    Offense: Multiple

    Playing surface: Artificial turf

    Outlook: The Blue Devils welcome new coach Chris Boswell after going 2-9 last fall under Anthony Nalen. Boswell, who served as the defensive coordinator for the Blue Devils since 2013, aims to keep it simple and fundamental for their offense. Defensive linemen Armani Mette and Nathan Blake will have key leadership roles for Randolph this year.

    Season opener: Saturday, Sept. 9, 1 p.m., at Sharon

    Sacred Heart

    Coach: T.J. Byrne (3rd season). Career: Career: 5-14.

    Last year’s record: 3-7

    Strengths: Offensive line, linebackers

    Concerns: Depth, inexperience

    Offense: Wing T

    Playing surface: Grass

    Outlook: In just their third season as a varsity program, Sacred Heart has improved each of the last two seasons and even qualified for the state tournament last year. This season the Fightin’ Saints are looking to continue improving, but with just five returning starters they’ll have a lot of inexperienced players on the field. One area Sacred Heart is strong at is the offensive line, where three starters return, including senior captain Tyler Potrykus. Senior running back PJ Beuttel and senior receivers Nick Fantasia and Maguire Duggan will also be centerpieces on offense. Linebacker DJ Doncaster will anchor the defense after leading the team with 85 tackles last season.

    Season opener: Saturday, Sept. 9, 1 p.m., at Old Colony

    South Shore Voc-Tech

    Coach: Derek Mariani (19th season). Career: Career: 104-98-2.

    Last year’s record: 2-9

    Strengths: Skill positions

    Concerns: One returning offensive linemen

    Offense: Wishbone

    Playing surface: Grass

    Outlook: After a 2-9 season, the Vikings plan on being a more balanced team. ‘‘It’s going to be more of a balance,’’ said coach Derek Mariani. ‘‘I would like to envision that our line comes up in plays well and we can compete for the league.’’ Anthony Tanzi is the only returning offensive linemen for the Vikings this year and senior Kyle Lambiase will replace their leading runner, who has a torn ACL. Mariani looks for senior Josh Parker to play a key role at fullback and middle linebacker.

    Season opener: Saturday, Sept. 9, 11 a.m., at Holbrook/Avon

    St. John Paul II

    Coach: Matt Marshall (1st season). Career: First year.

    Last year’s record: 7-4

    Strengths: Speed and senior leadership

    Concerns: Size

    Offense: Spread

    Playing surface: Artificial turf

    Outlook: The Lions, who lost 28-16 to Millis in the Division 4A South title game, will rely on speed and leadership this year. The Lions return linemen Will Coty, Kevin Flynn, and Nick Curran to protect senior quarterback Devan Harrison. Coach Matt Marshall plans to rotate three or four players to run the ball. ‘‘We are not the biggest team,’’ he said. ‘‘We’ll see some bigger teams but we want to use our speed more than anything else.’’

    Season opener: Friday, Sept. 15, 7 p.m., at Monomoy

    Tri-County

    Coach: Anthony Mazzola (8th season). Career: Career: 24-47.

    Last year’s record: 6-5

    Strengths: Offensive Line and athleticism

    Concerns: Inexperienced young players

    Offense: Wing T

    Playing surface: Grass

    Outlook: With the graduation of all key stat leaders, the Cougars will have eight new starters on both sides of the ball. Tailback Bobby Fryar, who was injured for most of last year, returns after playing four games at the end of the season, racking up 300 yards and two TDs. Junior outside linebacker Evan Langille will bring a lot to the table this year, according to coach Anthony Mazzola. Mazzola is still undecided on his quarterback but said if they keep playing their cards right, the Cougars will have a pretty good group for the next couple of years.

    Season opener: Saturday, Sept. 9, 1 p.m., vs. Marian

    Upper Cape

    Coach: Ken Owen (1st season). Career: Career: 193-105-5 at Rockland.

    Last year’s record: 10-3

    Strengths: Young talent

    Concerns: Inexperience

    Offense: Multiple

    Playing surface: Grass

    Outlook: It will be a great learning experience for the Rams this year with new head coach Ken Owen. ‘‘We have to position a lot of kids around and with me being new, it’s taking me a while to get to know the kids,’’ said Owen. ‘‘It’s a learning experience for them as well and we are hoping things gel quickly.’’ Owens has many holes to fill this year, including at quarterback. Upper Cape will relying on young talent to grab playoff berth. Owens expects tailback Izayah Silva, linebacker Robert Fishman, and defensive end Wally Alden to play key roles for the Rams.

    Season opener: Friday, Sept. 8, 7 p.m., at Bourne

    Wareham

    Coach: Robert Lomp (2nd season). Career: Career: 122-42 (114-39 at Apponequet).

    Last year’s record: 8-3

    Strengths: Speed

    Concerns: Offensive line and depth

    Offense: Double wing

    Playing surface: Grass

    Outlook: The Vikings graduated three of their five linemen, but return running back Issac Nascimento who was Boston Globe Division 3A Player of the Year after setting a single-season school record with 27 touchdowns and racking up 2,000 all-purpose yards last year. After an 8-3 season coach Robert Lomp hopes to make it further in the playoffs. ‘‘We want to compete for our half of the league title, which is the South Coast Conference Small Division,’’ he said. ‘‘We won a share of that title last year and we hope to be in the mix for a championship on our side of the league and then get into the playoffs and hopefully make some noise.’’

    Season opener: Friday, Sept. 8, 7 p.m., vs. Old Rochester

    West Bridgewater

    Coach: Bill Panos (32nd season). Career: .

    Last year’s record: 6-4

    Strengths: Experience

    Concerns: Depth

    Offense: Multiple

    Playing surface: Artificial turf

    Outlook: After a 41-12 loss to Abington in the Division 4A South quarterfinals last year, coach Bill Panos hopes to see his Warriors advance further in the postseason this season. ‘‘I hope to get into the playoffs,’’ he said. ‘‘We have been in the playoffs the last couple of years but I hope to win that first game which has been avoiding us.’’ Panos expects big things from sophomore Matt Lavoie, who will replace his graduated brother Justin Lavoie at quarterback.

    Season opener: Friday, Sept. 8, 7 p.m., vs. Diman