Aug. 17, 2006
BEVERLY, MA - The foundation for a successful football program was laid by Endicott's first-ever senior class in 2005. The eight seniors were there for the program's first varsity win in 2003 and saw the Gulls take flight in 2005, posting its best record in the school's three-year history at 7-3 (5-1 NEFC Boyd).
Endicott's preseason football camp began Thursday, August 17 with over 100 student-athletes attending. The Gulls open the 2006 season on the road at Hartwick College (Sept. 2) before returning home to face perennial power Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (Sept. 9).
Head coach JB Wells had Endicott firing on all cylinders last season and is looking for even more from the team in 2006. Endicott's defense recorded an NCAA-best 30 interceptions last season and its offense led the NEFC in time of possession. The Gulls came within one win of appearing in its first-ever New England Football Conference title game, but Curry handed EC its only NEFC loss, 21-16.
After a tough 0-2 start versus Hartwick (L, 27-20) and RPI (L, 34-7), the ball-hungry defense began to take over football games. The Gulls reeled off six straight wins, including a 21-7 triumph over Fitchburg State that broke the Falcons' 12-game winning streak.
Endicott recorded the program's first shutout on September 17, 2005, downing Framingham State, 46-0. The Gulls proceeded to hang two more zeros on Salve Regina (35-0) and Nichols (29-0) during their six-game unbeaten streak.
Endicott was the stingiest defense in the NEFC, allowing a league-low 136 points (13.6 per game) on just eight touchdown passes. The 13.6 ppg allowed ranked 12th in the NCAA while the third-year program was also tops in the country in turnover margin (+23) and ranked third in pass efficiency defense (80.3 yards per game). EC's total defense ranked 22nd in the NCAA.
The Gulls return all but three starters as they go in search of the program's first NEFC title. The team began to prepare for a title run last spring when EC made its first ever spring trip. The Gulls visited the Quebec Monarks, Champions of the LFSC - a six-team semi-professional club league - and won the game, 21-13. Senior wide receiver Ricky Burton (Mattapan, MA/Amherst) was named the MVP of the contest.
Endicott's defense will be a tenacious and experienced group which only lost one starter in Jesse Blackwell (Concord, NH/Concord).
Pego Jean-Paul (Stamford, CT/Stamford) was the ringleader of the secondary. He earned D3Football.com second team All-Region for his efforts in 2005. Jean-Paul, who has a 3.80 GPA, will once again patrol the Gulls' secondary after leading the team with five interceptions, 14 passes defended and 40.5 tackles last fall.
Defensive back Orlando Johnson (Newport, RI/Rogers) was the only Endicott player to receive NEFC First-Team All-Conference honors. He was third on the team in tackles with 37.5, and had four interceptions, three breakups and a forced fumble for the season.
Defensive lineman Joe Leaver (Stoughton, MA/Stoughton) led the team with 31 solo tackles, including 7.5 for loss and 2.5 sacks. Leaver had his best efforts in the Gulls biggest games of the season when he recorded a team-high eight tackles in a win over Fitchburg. Leaver also had and six tackles and a sack in the Gulls' narrow loss to Curry. Joining Leaver up front will be Matt McDonnell (Foxboro, MA/Xaverian), Justin Garland (Holliston, MA/Holliston), Matt Talis (Lynnfield, MA/Lynnfield) and Pat Canty (Swampscott, MA/Gunnery)
Jay Munroe (Beverly, MA/Beverly) was the defensive leader of the group from his middle linebacker position. The All-NEFC selection returned from a broken foot early in the season to make 15 tackles and pick off one pass in just four games played. Juniors TJ Sawyer (South Burlington, VT/South Burlington), and Angelo Perrina (Reading, MA/Reading) were Honorable Mention All-NEFC selections for the Gulls. Sawyer intercepted four balls while Perrina anchored a talented offensive line.
Mike Kelley (Abington, MA/Cardinal Spellman) and Blackwell bolstered the linebacking core. Kelley made 22 tackles and came through with a pair of interceptions while Blackwell had three interceptions and 13.5 stops. Daniel Orlando (Bradford, MA/Cushing) and Mike Petrini (Danbury, CT/Immaculate) will also contribute at linebacker.
Offensively, the Gulls relied on a ball-control offense that chewed up an NEFC-best 33 minutes per game and 2006 should see more of the same. With every skilled player returning along with a seasoned offensive line, Gerard Festa (Revere, MA/St. Mary's) should see plenty of open ground in the opposition's secondary.
Festa was the featured back in an offense that handed the ball off to 18 different ball carriers, seven of which had more than 20 rushes. He rushed for 1133 yards on 192 carries, averaging 5.9 yards per touch to go along with nine scores. He averaged 113.3 yards per contest, which ranked 28th in the NCAA and scampered for a season-high 180 yards versus Nichols College. He also caught 12 passes for 150 yards and a touchdown.
Matt Thompson (Clinton, MA/Clinton) and Tim Boyd (Rockland, MA/South Shore Voke) were also showcased in the running game. Boyd was the go-to guy in the red zone, punching in seven touchdowns on 289 yards (4.3 per attempt) while Thompson scrambled for 423 yards (6.7 per attempt) and three scores.
Quarterbacks Alex Smith (Winthrop, MA/Winthrop) and Vinny Orlando (Manchester, MA/Manchester) split time under center and teamed up to throw for 1350 yards and nine touchdowns while only throwing seven interceptions.
Wide receiver Ryan MacLean (Marshfield, MA/Marshfield) was the quarterbacks' favorite target, hauling in 32 catches for 505 yards and three TD's. Wide out Andy Roy (Manchester, NH/Manchester Central) added 236 yards of receiving on 16 catches while Kevin Samaha (Concord, NH/Concord) pulled down 11 balls for 138 yards. The Gulls also have depth at tight end where Ray Lynch (West Hartford, CT/Conard), who hauled in five passes for 68 yards in 2005, Jake Maxfield (Newport, NH/Newport) and Andrew Bettencourt (Peabody, MA/Peabody) will vie for playing time. Guard Ross Crimaldi (Milford, MA/Milford) moved to center where he played well in the spring and will compete with sophomore George Samaras (Manchester, NH/Manchester Central) for the starting job this fall while James Kallinich (Meriden, CT/Cheshire Academy) should be in the mix as well. The guards will be led by two experienced seniors. Perrina will slide inside from tackles where he was an All-NEFC selection the past two seasons and Mike Magner (Shrewsbury, MA/St. John's) should fill in at the other guard position. Tackles Joe Cooney (Cranston, RI/Bishop Hendricken) and Jared Fisher (Westerly, MA/Westerly) should also see plenty of action in their senior seasons.
The Gulls have always prided themselves on excelling in special teams and the 2005 season was no exception. Punter Adam Labbe (Litchfield, ME/Oak Hill) had 21 punts downed inside the 20 yard line. In all, he booted 54 punts for a 36.4 average. Johnson and MacLean were the two primary kick return men while Johnson returned the majority of punts. Johnson returned 20 punts for 146 yards and nine kickoffs for 200 yards (22.2 avg.). Senior place kicker Adam Maher (Athol, MA/Athol) was the team's third leading scorer with 42 points on field goals and extra points.
With 38 newcomers added to the roster, head coach JB Wells has high hopes for the 2006 season and beyond. The Gulls, who will also play two junior varsity contests versus Bates and Tufts, feature 21 Massachusetts recruits, nine Connecticut newcomers and a total of 35 New England arrivals. They also will have one New Jersey native and two New Yorkers for the next four years.