TOWNSEND — The North Middlesex football team will rely on its quickness as the Patriots look to climb the ladder against its usual tough schedule.
“Our team strengths are our speed, our athleticism and our work ethic,” said veteran coach Sandy Ruggles. “These kids have come out and are giving 100 percent effort.”
The Patriots feature some talent at the skill positions led by senior quarterback Jake Trickett and junior tailback Brian Magee.
“Jake shared time with Evan Woollacott at quarterback last season and also saw action at running back,” said Ruggles. “He will start at quarterback this season. He is athletic, quick and makes good decisions. Trickett rushed for 291 yards last season and connected on 8-29 passes.
‘Brian rushed for 574 yards last season with a 5.0 average per carry and four touchdowns,” said Ruggles. “He is an outstanding inside runner and has a knack for finding the open area.”
Junior John Mossey is the backup tailback and is up from the junior varsity team.
“John is a powerful north-south runner,” said Ruggles.
Versatile senior Colin Cenedella will start in the slot after rushing 40 times for 137 yards last season and catching six passes for 138 yards.
“Colin is a solid combination of a runner and receiver,” said Ruggles. “He is quick and has good hands.”
Competing for time at a slot position will be sophomores Joe Dolciotto and Brandon Lambert.
“Joe is versatile and skilled and does a little bit of everything,” said Ruggles. “Brandon has good speed and is a breakaway threat.”
Also in the mix at the slot position will be sophomore Brian Croteau and senior Colton Peladeau.
Senior Chris Paul will start at tight end while junior David Lorden will get the nod at split end.
“Chris is a returning starter and he is experienced, rugged and is a strong blocker,” said Ruggles. “David is a nice addition. He is athletic and provides a big target.”
The offensive line is led by senior center Cam Hendley, a returning starter.
“Cam is a leader and is a dependable player who controls the center of the line,” said Ruggles.
The starting tackles figure to be seniors Austin Heller, who didn’t play last season, and Brian Shannon, who is up from the junior varsity team.
“Austin is tall and rangy and provides a physical presence,” said Ruggles. “Brian is a physical player who gives 100 percent effort.”
Senior Matt Kirk is also competing for time at tackle.
There is open competition for the two starting guard spots among seniors Connor Buchholz, Mike Ricci, Costas Halkiadakis and sophomore Chris Tucker.
“The guard positions are up in the air right now, but they will be solidified through practices and scrimmages,” said Ruggles.
End will be a strength of the defense with Paul a returning starter and Heller, junior Josh Mihill and Tucker in the mix.
Junior Corey Carlton, who got good playing time last season, leads the tackle contingent, along with Ricci, Halkiadakis, and sophomores Matt Vaillancourt, Deagan Gray and Guy Gormley.
The starting outside linebackers will be Magee, who shifts from defensive back, and Dolciotto, with Croteau and Peladeau pushing for time.
Mossey, who is a physical player with a nose for the ball, will start at inside linebacker with senior Kevin Quin, Shannon and Hendley competing for the other starting slot. Freshmen Dylan Woods and Joe Sullivan are big and physical and have made an impression.
Cenedella and Trickett will be two of the starting defensive backs while juniors Drew Kanan, Nathan Smith and Mike Beliveau, along with Lambert are competing for the other starting berth.
“My concerns heading into the season are our size, depth and the tough schedule we play,” said Ruggles. “Our goal is to have a winning season and to keep getting better every day. The key to the season will be staying healthy.”