St. Bernard’s Roster is Loaded with Playmakers
FITCHBURG -- Tom Bingham has been associated with the St. Bernard’s football team closing in on quarter of a century now, and if you ask him to remember a year where the Bernies had as many electric options in the offensive set as they do this year, he may have difficulty in doing so.
Case in point: As of last Thursday, Bingham didn’t know who his starting quarterback would be entering the season -- and he had three to choose from, with the other two finalists heading into backfield positions in St. Bernard’s Wing T formation.
And that’s on top of the other options the Blue and Gold have.
“It’s a new position for us,” Bingham said last week inside the Bernardian Bowl clubhouse. “It’s been a long time. You get back to the late-90s and early-2000s, and that locker room was filled with 65-70 kids. And we had plenty of options, but from an athletic standpoint -- I don’t want to disrespect any previous class, but I would have to really give it some thought.”
St. Bernard’s returns a good chunk of its 2017 team which made the postseason back to the Bowl’s gridiron for 2018. The Blue and Gold only graduated four seniors, and had 21 new starters when St. B’s made the short jaunt up Tar Hill and over to historic Crocker Field to open the year.
Now, those 21 starters have a year under the belts, and Bingham and Co. are looking to put the best 11 on both sides of the ball.
He noted that in some cases, there will be multiple combinations working to keep everyone fresh.
“One of the most enjoyable things about coaching here is we have kids who are willing to put the work in,” he said. “We had a fantastic offseason between the 7-on-7 league which we hosted here -- eight teams thinking about football the weekend before the Fourth of July right through until the preseason camp is a good thing.
“We’re going to have a good rotation.”
Dazeen Figueroa took most of the snaps for St. Bernard’s last fall, but Dom Cuevas and Dom Valera have shown that they, too, can run the offense. And like we said, whoever doesn’t win the QB job will, in some way, shape, or form, touch the football.
“In all reality, it really is a wide-open competition,” Bingham said. “If you look at the three facets of the game within the Wing T system, each of them do one phase of it exceptionally well, and I don’t think they do one thing poorly. They are adequate on two and exceptional on one, and it’s all different. That’s not a problem for us to have.”
Also touching the football? Walter Morales Jr., Xavier Marty -- who is 10 1/2 months removed from an injury, yet is an explosive runner -- Max Bigelow (agile), Ben Shaw, Ben Goolsby (the Bernies’ best blocking back), Jakai Alexandre and Carty Ayer-Catrado.
In the front, St. Bernard’s will have a combination of the following: Shaw at tight end, Ben Jacoby at tackle, Micah Stinson at tackle, Johnny Pinard at center, Matt Smith at guard, Nick Dee or Zach Legros at tackle, along with Ricky Lajoie.
“Competition brings out the best in everybody,” Bingham said. “It’s healthy competition with clear communication and expectations is a very good thing. It makes you a better football team. Your attendance has to be good; no one wants to miss a day. No one wants to lose their spot.
“At the end of the day, we want to put our 11 most physical kids on the field Sept. 7.”
On the defensive line, Figueroa, when not in the secondary, will be a stand-up defensive end, while Smith, Jacoby, Stinson, Goolsby, Pinard, Lajoie, Dee, and Legros will rotate in.
“We’d love to have one or two who don’t go back and forth, but are backups in the rotation,” Bingham said.
Shaw, Goolsby, Legros, and Tyler Thibodeau will rotate in at linebacker, and Morales, Catrado, Valera, Bigelow, Cuevas, Alexandre, Figueroa, and Marty figuring into the rotation at defensive back.
“One of the biggest challenges as a staff is that we have eight varsity defensive backs who deserve to be on the football field,” Bingham said. “Any of those kids would start on our team in any given year.”