We were able to pick up some notes from our trip out to Springfield Wednesday night to see the first of four sessions of the Excel Sports Academy clinic. Here are a few odds and ends, along with some other tidbits from this past week to keep an eye on going forward.
— One takeaway we had is that Springfield Central will have one of the deepest quarterback rooms in the state next fall, if not the deepest.
Everyone familiar with the team knows that the Golden Eagles return class of 2020 signal-callers Isaac Boston and Mahari Miller, both of whom split time under offensive coordinator William Watson's system in 2018.
However, there will be a new name to add to the mix in August, when Watson's son and namesake, William Watson III, enters the competition.
We've seen Watson sling it multiple times over the offseason, and he has a strong, accurate arm. The website qbhitlist.com lists Watson as the No. 16 quarterback in his class. Now, take a national ranking like that for players that young for what it's worth, but Watson has performed well at the youth level under his father's guidance, and he's already on the radar of college football programs.
Now, with the Golden Eagles opening with the likes of Everett, Central Catholic, and Catholic Memorial, you probably will see either Miller or Boston behind center to start the season. Also, the elder Watson intimated that the team will likely not use a quarterback rotation like it did last year.
However, even with his youth, the younger Watson should make the competition interesting, and his presence will no doubt help the entire unit get better. At the very least, the coaches at Springfield Central are excited about his potential, as they should be.
— We spoke extensively with the elder Watson, and the subject of playing multiple sports came up. Many of the stars of the Central team, for instance, played more than just football. Miller, for instance, is an all-state wrestler. We asked if that was encouraged at Central, and Watson responded in the affirmative.
Asked why, Watson simply said, "There's no replacement for competition."
He added that the ability to stay poised under pressure and learn how to compete is something you can't necessarily get if you only play one sport. It is something that has to be nurtured.
This is something we wholly agree with. Even though this is an all-football site, there's no denying that competing in multiple disciplines will sharpen your focus when you step on the gridiron. The amount of three-sport athletes that have been NFL draftees in recent years only supports that theory.
— Even though Massachusetts is going through a strong upsurge in players who are earning Division I scholarship offers, Watson still bemoans the fact that there would be more if the MIAA allowed spring football.
This is a subject we have covered many times in this space, but it bears repeating. The ability for college coaches to watch players here in a football setting would make a huge difference for local athletes.
For players like Milford offensive lineman Kevin Pyne, Milton Academy running back and linebacker Kalel Mullings, and Noble and Greenough tight end and defensive end Cam Large, it would not be a dealbreaker. However, for those who are more on the bubble between a Football Bowl Subdivision and Football Championship Subdivision offer, it would make a world of difference.
Take, for instance, Central stars from last year like wide receiver Myles Bradley and cornerback Keshaun Dancy, both of whom are going to Colgate, and cornerback Elijah Ayers, who is going to Albany. All three had multiple FCS offers, enough for FBS schools to take notice. However, none pulled the trigger, even though all three likely had the ability to play at one if given the opportunity.
Watson fully believes if the state had spring football and college coaches were allowed to see those players up close, all three would be at FBS schools right now, and it's hard to argue against that position.
— Still, the amount of college recruiters making their way through the hallways at Central keeps increasing. There are a number of reasons for this, but on Wednesday, Watson pointed to one we had not considered before.
Watson said that when Central played Bishop Sullivan Catholic (Va.) in 2017, it raised the profile at Central. The Golden Eagles took a decisive, 55-13 loss, but just playing the game gave Central some national attention.
During the defeat, Ayers made an interception in his own end zone and returned it all the way for a touchdown. Watson said that a play like that against a team like Bishop Sullivan was something college recruiters took notice of.
Not everyone needs to schedule an out-of-state game for exposure, but Central's experience is something to keep in mind when finding future opponents.
— A Brockton Enterprise article published this week previewed what has been in the works for a long time: a potential merger between the Big Three and Old Colony League into what would be called the Southeast Conference.
With Barnstable set to join the newly-formed Cape and Islands League for the 2019 season, the Old Colony League would only have Bridgewater-Raynham and Dartmouth left.
Knowing that, along with the fact that there is already some crossover between the teams in the Big Three and B-R and Dartmouth, this move makes a lot of sense.
The league still needs to be voted on and approved, but we don't see any reason why it would not go through.