High schools

2017 Division 1 high school football previews

Here is a look at each EMass football team in Division 1 heading into the 2017 season.

DIVISION 1 NORTH

Acton-Boxborough

Coach: Tim Bassett (1st season). Career: 0-0.

Last year’s record: 4-7

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Strengths: Talent at skill positions.

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Concerns: Lack of depth at linebacker.

Offense: Spread

Playing surface: Artificial turf

Outlook: Longtime head coach Bill Maver is out and Tim Bassett is in. It’s part of a new era for the Colonials, one they hope builds upon last season’s underwhelming 4-7 record. Given the brief amount of time he’s had to install new schemes on both offense and defense, Bassett is impressed by where his group is at. ‘‘I’m pretty happy with where the kids are,’’ he said. ‘‘I gave them a playbook at the end of last school year. They learned a lot of the basics on their own and we were able to hit the ground running.’’ The shift from a Wing T offense to the spread may be rocky in the early going, but Bassett was adamant about the change, in part because of junior quarterback Finn Murray. As a sophomore, Murray started every game. Now, he’ll have a swath of talent around him including senior running back Kyle Camposano, a perfect fit for the newly installed offense.

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

Andover

Coach: EJ Perry (8th season). Career: 51-26.

Last year’s record: 6-5

Strengths: Size up front.

Concerns: Inexperience at quarterback.

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Offense: Spread

Playing surface: Artificial turf

Outlook: After being shred apart on defense in their first two games of 2016, the Golden Warriors bounced back, reaching the Division 1 North final where they fell to eventual champion Everett. With the loss of standout quarterback E.J. Perry to graduation (now at BC), Andover’s 2017 outlook remains a question mark. Nick Dellatto steps under center to replace Perry at QB. Still, the elder Perry’s squad is deep all around. Senior wideout Cedric Gillette was borderline un-coverable in Andover’s thrilling 54-48 playoff win over Lexington last season. Junior running back Tommy Duncan will shoulder more of a load than Andover’s 2016 running back core due to Perry’s graduation. Said the elder Perry, ‘‘We’re ahead of where we thought we’d be.’’

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

Central Catholic

Coach: Chuck Adamopoulos (21st season). Career: 150-68.

Last year’s record: 8-2

Strengths: Two-way talent at wide receiver and in secondary.

Concerns: Inexperience at linebacker.

Offense: Spread

Playing surface: Artificial turf

Outlook: Central Catholic still has players on its roster who played in the 2015 Division 1 Super Bowl loss to Xaverian. That same group suffered a thumping at the hands of Everett in last year’s D1 North semifinal. With a plethora of key returnees, the Raiders hope to make a jump in 2017. Bret Edwards threw 14 touchdown passes in 2016 and returns for his senior season as the leader of coach Chuck Adamopoulos’s speedy spread attack. But Adamopoulos says it’s senior Mathias Villafane who’s due for a breakout season. ‘‘(Mathias) has been a good player for us right through,’’ he said of the wide receiver and cornerback. ‘‘We take him for granted a little bit but he’s a playmaker on offense and a really good cover kid on defense. He’s very consistent.’’ Add senior lineman Ryan Burns and the Raiders are in solid position to retake the Merrimack Valley Conference throne. ‘‘We did not win the league last year and that is something that haunted us at the end of the season,’’ Adamopoulos said. ‘‘Our first focus is the MVC.’’

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

Everett

Coach: John DiBiaso (36th season). Career: 291-78.

Last year’s record: 10-2

Strengths: Secondary, two-way talent.

Concerns: Lack of experience at QB.

Offense: Spread

Playing surface: Artificial turf

Outlook: Could Everett possibly be better in 2017 than it was last year, when coach John DiBiaso collected his 11th Super Bowl ring in a dominant win over Xaverian? Doubtful. But the fact that it’s a possibility after losing an all-time senior class to graduation should scare the entirety of Division 1. Off to UConn is quarterback Jordan McAfee; in is junior Jake Willcox. Any growing pains Willcox may have should be mitigated by a loaded wide receiver core of Anthony Norcia, Jason Maitre, and Mike Sainristil. The latter doubles as one of the state’s best cornerbacks and will be joined in the secondary by safety Lewis Cine, a dynamic junior who has received offers from a host of major FBS schools. Said DiBiaso, ‘‘The great thing about Lewis is that it’s very hard to hit a home run against us because he’s back there.’’ Something else to watch for: if all goes according to plan, DiBiaso could procure his 300th career win at Everett come playoff time.

Season opener: Saturday, Sept. 9, 3 p.m., vs. Xaverian

Haverhill

Coach: Tim O’Connor (8th season). Career: 42-35.

Last year’s record: 9-2

Strengths: Offensive line.

Concerns: Inexperience.

Offense: Multiple

Playing surface: Artificial turf

Outlook: 2016 was a dream season for the Hillies and Globe D1 Coach of the Year Tim O’Connor. But after losing to Everett in the first round of the playoffs, the realization that much of that year’s talent would soon be graduating started to set in. Now, Haverhill begins its rebuilding stage. ‘‘We are starting from the ground up with numerous sophomores at key positions,’’ said O’Connor. ‘‘It’s a complete overhaul from the bottom up.’’ One such sophomore, Brandon Grundy, will be a key at defensive end, attacking opposing QBs while helping shore up the Hillies run defense.

Season opener: Saturday, Sept. 9, 2 p.m., vs. St. John’s Prep

Lawrence

Coach: Mike Yameen (13th season). Career: 38-94.

Last year’s record: 0-11

Strengths: Athleticism and speed.

Concerns: Experience.

Offense: Spread

Playing surface: Artificial turf

Outlook: The Lancers will look to improve on their winless 2016 season as they return numerous upperclassmen, most notably quarterback Ronnie Pena, who underscores the team’s speed and athleticism. And while they are returning plenty of upperclassmen, some will be in magnified roles which will test the team’s depth. Season starts with three out of first four games on the road.

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

Lexington

Coach: George Peterson (7th season). Career: 32-34.

Last year’s record: 9-2

Strengths: Depth on the offensive line.

Concerns: Defensive depth and stamina.

Offense: Spread

Playing surface: Grass

Outlook: As a junior in 2016, quarterback Sal Frelick threw 31 touchdown passes and ran for 21 more. Now he’s back and surrounded by tons of talent. ‘‘We’re growing together nicely,’’ said coach George Peterson. ‘‘We’ve been able to put a lot of our stuff in early and hit the ground running better than we’d been able to. We have a veteran group. It’s a nice luxury to have.’’ In addition to a slew of offensive line depth, the Minutemen boast two-way talent. Senior running back and safety Ben Quint found the end zone 15 times in 2016. Senior linebacker and wide receiver Jimmy Lane caught two touchdown passes in a scrimmage against Andover while operating as the center of the Lexington defense. The Minutemen return eight starters on both offense and defense.

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

Lowell

Coach: John Florence (7th season). Career: 35-30.

Last year’s record: 4-7

Strengths: Skill positions.

Concerns: Inexperience at quarterback.

Offense: Spread

Playing surface: Artificial turf

Outlook: John Florence is no stranger to turnover at the quarterback position. Such is the life of a high school football coach. Still, senior quarterback and first-year starter Curtis Gentles will have plenty of weapons at his disposal. Running back Anthony Doung returns, fresh off a 1,000-yard season as the focal point of the Lowell offense. Brendan Tighe showed promise at wide receiver as a freshman in the second half of 2016. If the offensive line can stay healthy, Lowell could easily improve upon last year’s 4-7 record.

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

Malden

Coach: Bill Manchester (2nd season). Career: 5-6.

Last year’s record: 5-6

Strengths: Athleticism.

Concerns: Inexperience.

Offense: Multiple

Playing surface: Artificial turf

Outlook: With no returning starters on offense and only three on defense, coach Bill Manchester and the Golden Tornadoes have their work cut out for them in 2017. Luckily, the roster is stacked with athletes from top to bottom. Senior wide receiver and cornerback Edouard Bazile could be the ticket to Malden’s success. ‘‘He moved up to Malden last summer and established himself as one of the better athletes on the team,’’ said Manchester. ‘‘He’s evolved into a captain and he leads our group of very athletic skill position players.’’ With much of last year’s JV talent being called up to fill in for the swath of graduated starters, Malden can’t afford any injuries if it hopes to turn last year’s 5-6 mark into a winning record. Another change ... With the GBL deceased, Malden will play in Northeastern Conference this fall.

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

Methuen

Coach: Tom Ryan (5th season). Career: 21-23.

Last year’s record: 6-5

Strengths: Skill positions.

Concerns: Strength of schedule.

Offense: Multiple

Playing surface: Artificial turf

Outlook: Competing in the Merrimack Valley Conference is tough, but with 11 returning starters including quarterback Jordan Perdomo, hopes are high for the Rangers in 2017. In addition to senior wide receiver David Kelly, coach Tom Ryan touts a running back core ‘‘that can score from anywhere on the field.’’ Linebacker Travis Manick and defensive lineman Bryce Smith head a defense that struggled in 2016, allowing 23.7 points per game. The Rangers open Sept. 8 at Malden.

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

St. John’s Prep

Coach: Brian St. Pierre (4th season). Career: 23-10.

Last year’s record: 7-4

Strengths: Quarterback.

Concerns: Inexperience.

Offense: Pro set

Playing surface: Artificial turf

Outlook: Hearts sank in Danvers when it was reported that standout junior wide receiver and safety Wes Rockett would miss the season due to injury. But Prep remains stocked with talent. Senior quarterback and baseball prodigy Mike Yarin returns under center, having led Prep to the D1 North semifinals against Andover in 2016. ‘‘I think it’s important he doesn’t put added pressure on himself,’’ said coach Brian St. Pierre. ‘‘He has to trust the guys around him.’’ With only one returning starter on the offensive line, Yarin will have to rely on players like junior wideout Max Freedman to help ease the burden. On defense, middle linebacker Pat Keefe will be tasked with much responsibility when Prep opens on Sept. 9 at Haverhill. Said St. Pierre, ‘‘he’s our bell-tower, our leader on D.’’

Season opener: Saturday, Sept. 9, 2 p.m., at Haverhill

DIVISION 1 SOUTH

Attleboro

Coach: Michael Strachan (5th season). Career: 21-23.

Last year’s record: 4-7

Strengths: Dynamic talent at skill positions.

Concerns: The kicking game.

Offense: Multiple

Playing surface: Artificial turf

Outlook: Attleboro coach Michael Strachan knows that for his team to be successful, it will need to score more points. ‘‘We’ll be multiple,’’ he said of the offensive scheme he plans to run. ‘‘It’s something that we like to build off of and our kids are very comfortable with. We’ve been pretty successful offensively over the last few years.’’ The Bombardiers are led by senior quarterback Cam Furtado and slot back Justin Cote. While the defense is more of a question mark - Attleboro allowed more than 28 points per game last season - there’s talent on that side as well. Senior returning starters James Weir and Nathan Barboza lead a linebacking core that hopes to improve upon its inconsistent 2016. Attleboro opens against Cumberland (R.I.) on Sept. 8.

Season opener: Friday, Sept. 8, 7 p.m., at Cumberland (R.I.)

BC High

Coach: Jonathan Bartlett (8th season). Career: 52-25.

Last year’s record: 6-4

Strengths: Speed.

Concerns: Passing game.

Offense: Multiple

Playing surface: Artificial turf

Outlook: 2016 was an up-and-down year for the Eagles. While they clearly possessed enough talent to hang with the best in Division 1, their offense at times went stagnant, namely against Xaverian, who shut them out twice including in the Division 1 South final. While some of the 2016 roster is gone, the main offensive cog returns: running back Danny Abraham. Already a verbal commit to Harvard, Abraham ran for 385 yards and four touchdowns in last year’s season opener against Andover and has an uncanny combination of speed and strength when he gets into space. Defensively, speedy cornerback Bobby DeMeo will match up on opponent’s top receivers, the senior a key reason why the Eagles pitched three shutouts in 2016.

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

Brockton

Coach: Peter Colombo (15th season). Career: 103-47.

Last year’s record: 5-6

Strengths: Quarterback depth, health.

Concerns: Inexperience in secondary.

Offense: Spread

Playing surface: Artificial turf

Outlook: Whether it was standout Kerry Raymond in 2015 or Junior Monteiro in 2016, Brockton has suffered an inordinate number of key losses to injury the past two seasons. With the 2017 regular season here, the Boxers’ current health outlook is far more rosy. Monteiro returns as a senior quarterback poised as the ballcarrier in read-option sets. Mike Norman and Tom O’Brien both filled in for Monteiro under center last year and return as viable options running the offense. After starting a handful of sophomores last season, coach Peter Colombo feels more confident his current group can erase last year’s disappointing 5-6 mark. ‘‘Overall, depth and experience (are) our strong suit,’’ he said. While the Boxers have yet to hash out who will get the majority of snaps under center, their defense offers a bit more clarity. Junior defensive tackle A.J. Walker leads a formidable line that will continue to stuff opposing running backs. Senior linebacker and running back Dexter Cumberland started for Everett before transferring to Brockton this season. Said Colombo, ‘‘He’s had some knee issues but when he’s healthy he’s an impact player and will help our defense a lot.’’

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

Brookline

Coach: Keith Thomas (5th season). Career: 10-34.

Last year’s record: 3-8

Strengths: Athleticism at skill positions.

Concerns: Inexperience on offensive line.

Offense: Spread

Playing surface: Artificial turf

Outlook: A string of rough seasons for the Warriors prompted coach Keith Thomas to shake things up on the offensive end heading into 2017. Brookline plans to operate in a spread offense, a shift from the Wing T it ran in 2016. And what better time to implement a new scheme then with a team full of youth and potential? How the Warriors fare when they have the ball will hinge on junior tailback Amari Withers, the team’s primary playmaker. Senior tight end and defensive end Liam Downey will add a dose of experience on the edges for Brookline, which lost eight of its final nine contests in 2016. Said Thomas, ‘‘We were starting three sophomores at offensive line in (our) first scrimmage. We’re going to go through our growing pains but in the end they’ll come together and get it.’’

Season opener: Saturday, Sept. 9, 10 a.m., vs. Boston Latin

Catholic Memorial

Coach: Brent Williams (1st season). Career: 0-0.

Last year’s record: 7-4

Strengths: Secondary.

Concerns: Adjusting to new coaching staff.

Offense: Spread

Playing surface: Artificial turf

Outlook: ‘‘We knew coming in that we had a ton of starters to replace,’’ said first-year coach Brent Williams of the challenges 2017 will bring, and boy is he right. Still, the Knights should hold their own in the always competitive Catholic Conference. With defensive end Dan Boyle already in tow and Durfee transfer Hunter Salmon a fresh addition to the men in red, CM will be formidable up front. Add in an experienced secondary and the defense figures to be its usual stout self. The question marks come on offense. Though Williams would love to play a smash-mouth style of football, the speed of his roster convinced him to adapt and run the spread.

Season opener: Friday, Sept. 8, 7 p.m., vs. St. John’s (Shrewsbury)

Framingham

Coach: Ed Mantie (1st season). Career: 0-0.

Last year’s record: 1-10

Strengths: Depth at linebacker.

Concerns: Skill positions.

Offense: Spread

Playing surface: Grass

Outlook: With only three wins in the past two seasons, there’s no direction but up for the Flyers in 2017. Says first-year coach Ed Mantie, ‘‘Any time you take over a brand new football team, you’re kind of starting from scratch. There’s been a big learning curve but I’m very excited with how the kids have bought into what we’re doing.’’ Though the system is new, Mantie has plenty of players capable of executing. Framingham will bat around the idea of using two quarterbacks, and the Flyers have at least three running backs who will see time in the backfield. Junior lineman Chidi Nna - a third-down specialist in 2016 - will be a key on both sides of the ball and has an enticing combo of long arms and quick feet. Framingham may struggle slowing opposing pass games, but if their front seven plays to its capability, it may not matter. Said Mantie of his fresh faced group, ‘‘We’re not going to do a lot, we’re just going to do it really well.’’

Season opener: Friday, Sept. 8, 6:30 p.m., vs. Norwood

Franklin

Coach: Eian Bain (2nd season). Career: 2-9.

Last year’s record: 2-9

Strengths: High football IQ, talent at quarterback.

Concerns: Depth up front.

Offense: Multiple

Playing surface: Artificial turf

Outlook: It’s year two for Eian Bain as head coach of the Panthers and many strides have been made following last year’s 2-9 campaign. ‘‘Our football IQ has grown dramatically,’’ Bain said. ‘‘These kids know what we’re looking for.’’ Name among them, 6-5 senior quarterback and baseball talent Jake Noviello has the talent to play on Saturdays if he desires, according to Bain. Running an offensive scheme that includes audibles at the line of scrimmage, Noviello will need to be in top form. He’ll be aided by a defense that boasts a handful of versatile defensive backs. Juniors Nolan McLaney and Ryan Driscoll started every game as sophomores, the former quarterbacking the defense as a roaming safety. ‘‘What we look for is versatility,’’ said Bain. ‘‘Our safeties need to be in the top four (on the team) in tackles and they also need to be terrific in pass defense. Nolan is a kid that does everything for us.’’

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

Needham

Coach: David Duffy (22nd season). Career: 129-84-1.

Last year’s record: 5-6

Strengths: Overall speed.

Concerns: Lack of experience.

Offense: Spread

Playing surface: Artificial turf

Outlook: Playing in Division 1 is a challenge for Needham, but coach Duffy is up for the challenge. Once an I-formation team, the Rockets will use a spread in 2017 to fit their speedy personnel. Senior captain Charlie Sumner and junior Charlie Ogletree have spent training camp impressing at the QB position, but a starter has yet to be named. Whoever Duffy chooses, they’ll be in good hands. Senior captain and three-year starter John Andre returns, his quickness a weapon both out of the backfield and split out wide. With junior Matt Smith also in tow, Needham’s passing game could give Bay State rivals headaches. ‘‘The kids showed up in shape and we’re doing well,’’ said Duffy. ‘‘We’re just in a tough league and a tough division. To be the best you have to play the best.’’

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

Newton North

Coach: Mike Coppola (3rd season). Career: 13-9.

Last year’s record: 7-4

Strengths: Speed on defense.

Concerns: Offensive line.

Offense: Spread

Playing surface: Artificial turf

Outlook: With the graduation of Bryce Adam and the transfer of John Grady to Nobles, the Tigers have plenty of work to do if they want to repeat 2016’s successful campaign. It all starts on defense. Senior Nathan Harvey will move from defensive tackle to defensive end so the Tigers can better utilize his speed. Senior Noah Neville - a dynamic, versatile offensive player who coach Mike Coppola said, ‘‘may be one of the best receivers in the state’’ - will start alongside Will Thompson in what figures to be a sturdy pass defense. Whether Coppola and Co. are able to take the next step hinges on an inexperienced offense. In an attempt to take advantage of their speed and mitigate an offensive line starting three sophomores, the Tigers plan to run more no-huddle in 2017. And with Neville in tow, the thought of a fast-paced spread attack should put fear into the hearts of opponents. Said Coppola of his standout, ‘‘He’s going to be our number one guy.’’

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

Taunton

Coach: Brad Sidwell (2nd season). Career: 5-6. Career: 118-104-3 at Franklin.

Last year’s record: 5-6

Strengths: Size and depth up front.

Concerns: Overall inexperience.

Offense: Multiple

Playing surface: Artificial turf

Outlook: Brad Sidwell’s first season as coach of the Tigers prompted a four-win improvement for the program. Now, with junior Noah Leonard returning under center, Taunton hopes to take the next step and post a winning record in 2017. ‘‘Last year we ended up huddling a little more and being more of a multiple, pro-style offense,’’ Sidwell said. ‘‘We’re trying to do that again this year.’’ Due to an increase in numbers, the Tigers now boast depth on the offensive line and at receiver. Give Leonard time in the pocket and he’ll make you pay. ‘‘I think we’ll be a new team,’’ Sidwell said. ‘‘We have quite a few inexperienced players (but) they’re talented and excited.’’

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

Weymouth

Coach: Kevin Mackin (13th season). Career: 75-61.

Last year’s record: 2-9

Strengths: Leadership.

Concerns: Playing on the road.

Offense: Multiple

Playing surface: Artificial turf

Outlook: After taking a step forward with a 4-7 season in 2015, the Wildcats took a step back with a 2-9 2016 campaign. Evan Couper will be back under center for the Wildcats, who will also return multiple linemen. It’ll be important to find success on the road this season after going 1-4 last season away from Weymouth.

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

Xaverian

Coach: Al Fornaro (1st season). Career: 0-0.

Last year’s record: 10-2

Strengths: Defensive backfield.

Concerns: Perimeter defense.

Offense: Multiple

Playing surface: Artificial turf

Outlook: After losing to Everett in last year’s Division 1 Super Bowl, 24-year veteran head coach Charlie Stevenson decided to call it quits. Now the Hawks turn to former defensive coordinator Al Fornaro to lead them after losing key contributors Devon Piccinin, Cal Flanders, and Mekhi Henderson to graduation. There’s still plenty of talent to go around. Senior safety Brian Abraham, who the Hawks plan to use off the edge and in blitz packages in addition to traditional pass coverage, has already received a verbal commitment from Yale. Senior running back and cornerback Ike Irabor shined in a limited role late in 2016. Says Fornaro, ‘‘Even though (Ike) is 5-10, we don’t have any reservations lining him up on a 6-3 guy. We’ll match him up on the opponent’s best receiver.’’ Though the Hawks have been known for their strong running attack in previous seasons, Fornaro plans to run a more balanced offensive scheme.

Season opener: Saturday, Sept. 9, 3 p.m., at Everett