Bright Days for Fitchburg High Football Ahead
FITCHBURG -- It is said that high school sports are cyclical, and that goes for any program out there. For example -- it’s not exactly breaking news -- the Fitchburg High football program was on the down side of the cycle during the early part of the last seven years.
And yes, there have been instances where the fabled Red and Gray have broken that mantra; the 2014 season, for instance. FHS started out 0-4 that year, then ripped off six straight wins, including a 7-0 win over archrival Leominster in the Central Mass. championship.
And while the last two seasons have seen plus-.500 football over at the corner of Circle and Broad, by all indications the Raiders’ best years are in front of it.
Fitchburg’s success in Sunday afternoon’s annual Pigeon Bowl -- won by the Red Raiders, capping off an incredible 8-1 season -- showed area football fans that the Sons of Tom DiGeronimo are clearly on the rise.
In all, the Raider subvarsity programs won 13 games -- freshmen eight wins, junior varsity five -- and the freshmen captured a win in the final games of the year, on what was a rather muddy-yet-still-historic Crocker Field. And by the way, kudos to all the volunteers who came armed with a shovel Saturday to make sure the field was ready to play Sunday.
Fitchburg freshman coach Craig Antocci gives a great deal of credit to the city’s AYF program to the subvarsity success this year.
“It’s systematic. AYF is doing a great job; hats off to those guys. Kids are coming up to the high school ready to play and ready to win,” he said. “All we’re doing is polishing the stone at this point.”
Donovan Deleon, Fitchburg’s freshman quarterback, is shifty, and he certainly feasted as he got into space. He broke tackles and made cuts as naturally as if he were on artificial turf, en route to 132 yards Sunday.
And Colin Dudek, he had graceful speed as he got to the outside. He put up 115 yards.
“They are special players,” Antocci said. “They can score from anywhere on the field, and they’re a real matchup nightmare. They’re shifty and they’re fast. It’s been that way this year.”
And while the JV’s lost to Leominster, 26-12, in the nightcap, it shouldn’t diminish the fact that 2018 is the first time in a while that all three parts of the Red Raider gridiron program will finish above .500 -- remember, no matter what happens Thursday, the FHS varsity is already at six wins for the second straight season.
“I’d like to believe the future is pretty bright, honestly,” he said as the Fitchburg junior varsity started stretching. “We have a lot of kids putting the time in. I told them this morning: it’s not about the will to win, it’s about the will to prepare. The more we have that, the better we’re going to be in the long term. Kids are buying into that.”
And with what Fitchburg has coming up at the eighth grade level -- Tyler Brassard is a name to remember, a quarterback with a solid arm that’s just going to get stronger; Elijah and Isaiah Jeffreys are crazy fast; and Nick Thibault is a stud up in the trenches -- it’s safe to say the Red Raiders’ future is in safe hands.
Bring on 2019.