For a few years, Old Rochester football coach Justin Kogler had the luxury of not worrying about the ground game entering each season. With Harry Smithset as his lead back, the Bulldogs offense had a playmaker who helped set the tone. But now Smith is gone, currently serving as a linebacker for Southern Connecticut State University.
But the Bulldogs aren’t concerned with filling that void.
“The good news is we have three fullbacks that are all really good players: Desmond Dias, Dylan DeWolfeand Cam Brizinski,” Kogler said. “And then we have Will Garciaback, who rushed for 1,400 yards and 21 touchdowns. We got our quarterback (Cole McIntyre) back, he’s throwing the ball much better than he did last year and we have some pretty good receivers this year.
“Obviously, it hurts to lose Harry,” said Kogler, “but it’s not like we don’t have anyone else.”
Garcia is certainly the biggest reason the Bulldogs will continue to succeed. His numbers (1,400 yards and 21 TDs) would make him the top running back on almost any other high school team. Now it’s finally his time to be the feature back, and his head coach thinks Garcia is ready.
“He was ready for it last year,” Kogler said. “But because of Harry, he was forced to take a back seat a little bit. This year hopefully he can stay healthy and have a good season.”
But Garcia is a different style back than Smith was. If nothing else, there’s a major difference in size, which could lead Old Rochester to change its offensive scheme for the season. That will not be the case. Kogler believes he has the personnel to keep the offensive scheme close to what it’s been of recent.
“The plays won’t change,” Kogler said. “The kids we have [at] fullback all can do the plays that Harry did. … We’re going to have to be more balanced [with] the ball offensively, throw the ball a little bit better and spread the ball around a little bit more.”
With all the attention being on the offense, Old Rochester’s defense has quietly maintained itself since the 2017 season. In fact, Kogler thinks the 2018 defense will have a bigger impact on the Bulldogs’ success than it did in 2017.
“Defensively I think we can potentially be better than we were last year on defense,” Kogler said. “We lost four players, but we had Dylan DeWolfecome in, who’s a starting caliber player. So the way I look at it, we lost three players, and the people that are replacing them are doing a great job. And I think we’ll be more solid at linebacker and in the secondary this year than we were last year. I think we have a chance to be decent on defense.”
And for golf, following an undefeated 16-0 regular season run, the Bulldogs golf team graduated its top players: Colin Fitzpatrick, Jacob Yeomans, and Jason Gamache. Old Rochester also lost freshmen turned sophomores Alex Wrightand Cat Yeomansto Tabor Academy.
That leaves Old Rochester head coach Chris Cabe with seniors Alex Henrie, Owen Powers, and Sam Wigginas the main returners. All three will serve as captains for the Bulldogs as well.
Repeated as South Coast Conference Large Division champions will be a tall task for Old Rochester in 2018. Dighton-Rehoboth is expected to maintain it’s impressive play. Somerset-Berkley did not graduate a single player after the 2017 season, and Cabe expects Apponequet to be a strong team once again.
It may be a more challenging task than in previous year, but opposing coaches won’t let their players sleep on Old Rochester, given their continued rate of success under Cabe and beyond.
High School Sports
By Jean Perry