One of the most potent young football teams to come down the pike in years sits right here in our own backyard.
The East Bay Warriors Junior Midget team, comprised of players from the former Bristol Mustangs and Warren Swansea Redskins, have shown their might all season long. They finished the regular season with a perfect 9-0 record and this past Sunday, pasted the New Bedford Bears, 30-0, in the opening round of the playoffs.
“We’re a complete football team,” said defensive coordinator Mark Rhynard, who along with coaches Jason “Jay” Proulx, Henry Cabral, George Simmons, and Matt DePasquale, has put together one heck of a ball club.
Coach Rhynard and Coach Proulx were All-Staters at Mt. Hope High School and former coaches, who have brought that same winning attitude to the Pop Warner Football program.
“This is the second year of the merger and many current players have played in the New England Regional Playoffs two years ago,” noted Coach Cabral, who also serves as president of the East Bay Warriors. “The Junior Midget team runs pretty much the same offense and defense at this level that brought the Mt. Hope High School Huskies to the 2009 Super Bowl.”
“This is an extremely bright and attentive group of kids,” Coach Cabral added. “There’s a lot of talent here.”
In addition to the aforementioned coaches, former Mt. Hope standouts Joey San Martin and Theo Moskala helped out during summer sessions before heading off to Merrimack College and Penn State University, respectively.
The East Bay Warriors were so dominant this year, they outscored their opponents, 254-13, including seven consecutive shutouts to start the season. The offense was led by running backs Matt Ditondo, Jake Ribeiro, Ashton Begin, Devon Lancaster and Val Aiello, who combined for 21 touchdowns with Ditondo leading the way with nine TDs rushing, one receiving and one on a kickoff return. Quarterback Ryan Ramos had eight TD passes, three rushing touchdowns and one kickoff return TD, while the receiving corps of DJ Machado, Jeff Silvia and Zack Franis combined for five touchdowns. Damian Mendoza also had one touchdown pass and one punt return for a TD.
Like any successful team, the Warriors had a rock solid offensive line led by Zack Francis, Ashton Begin, Caden Cabral, Neil Thibaudeau, Keith Stephenson, Anthony Reed, Nick Finney, Tyler Rego, Ty Couto, Connor McKenna, Jake Sarza and Andrew Prendergast. Defensively, the top performers included Caleb Harrington, Zack Sullivan, Trevor Arruda, Ashton Begin, Caden Cabral, Neil Thibaudeau, Devin Lancaster, DJ Machado and Damian Mendoza.
Pee Wee Success
While the Junior Midget squad was setting records, the East Bay Warriors Pee Wee team wasn’t far behind.
These up- and-coming stars completed an 8-1 regular season (9-1 overall including the playoffs) and outscored opponents, 211-55. The head coach is Todd Netto, assisted by Jay Pierotti, Marc DeFelice, Steve Proulx, Darren Medeiros and Chad Thiboutot.
The offense was led by Jeremy Thiboutot (11 TDs), Joey Penkala (five TDs, two extra point conversions), Vinny Berretto (five rushing TDs), Avery Merritt (four receiving TDs and six extra point conversions), and Devin Proulx, Dylan Thiboutot, Nick Pierotti, Josh Pompey and Darren Ellinwood, who combined for eight touchdowns and seven extra point conversions. Quarterback Matty DeFelice also had six touchdown passes.
On the offensive line, the key players included AJ Bernardo, Ben Iiams, Mike Bisbano, Brandon Scott, Dylan Martins, Mike Trexler, Aaron Myers, Evan Payne, Zach Burke, Tre Netto and James Moreira. The defense, which yielded a skimpy 5.5 points per game, was spearheaded by Luke Swift, Luke Borges, Evan Sousa, David Turner, Alex Tainsh, Collin Sullivan, Brooks Medeiros, Jeremy Thiboutot, Avery Merritt, Nick Pierotti, Brandon Scott and Joey Penkala.
“All of these kids did such a great job this year,” said Mark Rhynard. “They should be congratulated for their dedication and hard work.”