By Ken Blanchette
AYER — After participating in the National Championships last season, all signs pointed to a rebuilding season for the Ayer-Shirley Broncos. But playing in the All-American U9 Division, the Broncos have followed up their predecessors in style, earning a spot in the National Championships in Florida from Dec. 6 through Dec. 12. They will play three games during that span.
The Broncos finished with an 8-0 regular season record, followed by a playoff win over Westford/Littleton and a forfeit win over Nashoba in the Super Bowl Game.
Amazingly, the roster consists of only 19 players, including just four returnees from last year’s team. Head coach Micheal Doherty wasn’t sure of the future of the team in August, but he has seen a remarkale story unfold.
“I wasn’t sure we would even have a team in August,” said Doherty. “We had only 13 players and even having a team wasn’t a sure thing. We gelled as the season progressed and the players have gained experience and confidence.”
That is a bit of an understatement as the Broncos have outscored their opponents 320-6 this season. A number of things have come together to create the success the team has enjoyed but one key has been strength on both sides of the ball.
“This has been a total team effort, especially with only four returning players,” said Doherty. “We came together as a team and a number of newcomers stepped up. We have been very balanced offensively and defensively. Offensively, we have relied on the run and mixed passes in. Defensively, the key was pursuit and gang tackling. Both offensively and defensively we have controlled the line of scrimmage.”
The Broncos finished third in the nation last season and Doherty is hoping to improve on that this time around.
“We want to win it,” he said. “It is a challenge with all the new kids we have on the team. It will take the same effort that the team last year gave and even a little more. We are trying to trying to keep Broncos’ tradition alive against some strong competition. We know that we will see some very strong teams in Florida.”
Comprising the roster for the Broncos this season are:
DaShawn Taylor (fullback-linebacker); Sylvester Marshall(running back-linebacker); J.C. Sanders (offensive lineman-defensive lineman); Kyle Sanders (running back-safety); Rocky Ethier (end-defensive end); Josh Cox (offensive lineman-defensive lineman); James Morales (offensive lineman-defensive lineman); James Timmins (center-defensive lineman); Nick Guthiel (offensive lineman-defensive lineman); Cedric Gray (offensive lineman-defensive lineman); Clayton Galeski (end-defensive end); Tyler Lawton (running back-cornerback); Austin Cunningham (quarterback-cornerback); D.J. Nicholson (offensive lineman-defensive lineman); Tony Banchs (running back-cornerback), D.J. Voorhies (runningback-cornerback), Mau Pau (offensive lineman-defensive lineman); Jack Michaels (fullback-defensive lineman) and Lyndsey Mullin (quarterback-cornerback).
Assistant coaches for the Broncos include Mark Hennigan, Joe Marshall, Alvin Marshall and Alika Pau.