GROTON — The goal of every coach, no matter what the sport is to win. But, the word takes on new meaning for newly hired Groton-Dunstable head football coach Tom Sousa.
“I don’t remember exactly where I got it from,” Sousa said. “But, it just makes so much sense. The acronym of W.I.N stands for what’s important now? It was really cool to see the guys chant that after a defensive series. It helped us keep our heads together, and it kept the boys focused.”
Sousa, who comes to Groton-Dunstable after a 24-year assistant under Chelmsford’s Tom Caito and as current head coach Bruce Rich’s defensive coordinator, enters his first head coaching job filling the shoes of the G-D program’s first head coach Derek Asadoorian, who took the head coaching job at Gardner High School.
But, what kept him from climbing the coaching ladder sooner?
“I just got comfortable because I am a teacher at Chelmsford and live in town,” he said. “When I left here Wednesday after being offered the job, Tommy (Caito) was the first person I called. He made some calls and got back to me, and he told me that I needed to take the job. Jack Fletcher, who is at Lowell Catholic now, has been a big mentor to me. He was the second guy I called, and he said that I have been an assistant long enough — it was time that I challenged myself to be a head coach.”
One of the biggest challenges for both the players and Sousa is him not being in the building.
“The thing that has kept me from becoming a head coach earlier in my career was not being able to be with the kids during the school day,” Sousa said. “The principal and athletic director seem to have a good pulse on what’s happening during the school day. That was a big selling point for me.”
Groton-Dunstable comes into the fall with 11 seniors on its roster. Having a new coach while it can be difficult on the upperclassmen, it can also be very rewarding.
“This is a good opportunity for us as leaders to build a new program from our standpoint,” Senior left tackle Aidan Hoey said. “Yeah, it is going to be tough at first, but it is going to be a great experience for us seniors especially. Chelmsord has been a powerhouse in division 1 since I can remember. To get a guy from a D1 program that wins consistently, you cannot complain.Coach has seen it all from some of the best.”
Sousa is not definitive on what type of offense the Crusaders will run this fall, but as of right now, all signs are pointing towards the spread.
Senior right tackle Andy Femia is not concerned with a new offense coming in.
After all, change was the name of the game under Asadoorian.
“Change is exciting,” Femia said. “With coach Asadoorian, we were changing offenses every week, every game.
“Coach Az loved the element of surprise — that’s not something we are worried about. I trust who we have got as a head coach. I think we will do just fine.”
While Sousa was driving out of the school parking lot after Wednesday’s meeting, he noticed a large group of kids up on the fields working hard and it caught his eye.
“I was so impressed with the number of kids doing the workouts early in the morning without the direction of a coach or even a head coach named,” Sousa said. “When I talked to the players earlier about it, I saw a group of guys nod their heads. I know the kids are keeping tabs on each other. It is nice to see the kids put in the effort.”
Coach Sousa has stressed the importance of getting his team involved with Groton-Dunstable Youth Football in the hopes of boosting the program’s roster.
“I really want to run a two platoon system, but in order to do that, we need bigger numbers,” Sousa said. “I think it is important to have that feeder system in place. It is important that the younger kids feel a part of the community. I want the kids to aspire to put on that varsity uniform.”
Follow Ed Niser on Twitter/Tout:@EdNiser