Tradition Never Graduates

James Cullinane

The offensive line gets set against Newton North.  (Photo courtesy of Greg Salvatore.)
The offensive line gets set against Newton North. (Photo courtesy of Greg Salvatore.)

On December 6, 2008, the Walpole Rebel Football Team were on top of the world.  The Rebels had just finished their 41-21 onslaught of Mansfield in the Division 2 MIAA Superbowl.  But for a certain group of Rebels, the time to celebrate was short-lived.  For this group of Rebels it was time to work.

The 2008 Rebels high-powered offense was anchored by a big and talented offensive line.  All five of the starting offensive linemen played their last game as a Rebel on that December day.  There five seniors included Captains Adam Riegel, a 6’1″ 260 lb center and Sean Driscoll, 6’3″.  Riegel anchored this talented Offensive line at center, while Driscoll held down the right tackle position.  Driscoll received Bay State All-League honors and is now playing in his freshman season at Bentley.  Kyle Morris, one of the biggest offensive linemen in the state at 6’5″ 290 lbs, was a standout at the left tackle position and moved on to play at Worcester State.  Standing along Morris at left guard was Bryan Norberg, 6’0″ 245 lbs.  Norberg is now playing football for Mass. Maritime.  Dave Wyman, 6’0″, a converted fullback, worked the right guard spot and proved to be the right man for the job.  These 5 seniors would prove to make one of the biggest and best offensive lines to ever play for Walpole.  Partly because of this offensive line, the Rebels did not just win in 2008, they dominated their opponents week in and week out.  For the underclassmen, these would become some big shoes to fill.

As the 2009 season approached, many doubted that this new class of linemen could pick up where Riegel and company left off.  These new seniors and underclassmen certainly do not lack the ability to get the job done, but they do lack the size that the 2008 offensive line possessed.  There is no 6’5″ 290 lb tackle or 6’1″ 260 lb center.  This offensive line is built of smaller players who must use their skill and agility to overmatch their bigger and sometimes stronger opponents.  The thing about the 2009 linemen is that, what they lack in size, they make up for with strength, speed, and intelligence.  Guards Phill Groden, senior, and junior Doug McMillian are two of the strongest kids on the team.  Groden weighs in at 195, smaller than many of other guards around the state, while McMillian is a stocky 215 lbs.  They both use their strength and speed to overpower larger opponents.  Taking over for Driscoll at right tackle is senior Chris Tetreault 6’2″ 225 lbs, while junior Rob Prindall, 6’2″ 190 lbs, has taken over for Morris at left tackle.  The lineman that may have had to fill the biggest shoes of all is center Pat Dixon, senior.  Dixon, 5’10” 185 lbs, has taken over the center position seamlessly from Riegel, who earned the Boston Globe’s All Scholastic honors, naming him one of the best players in the state and was also named a Captain for his team in the highly respected Shriners All Star game and has since taken his game to Harvard.

The reason why this smaller, unexperienced offensive line has been able to produce the same results as last seasons dominant offensive line is because of their work ethic.  Ever since December 6 of last year, these five lineman have made the Walpole High School weightroom their home away from home.  When this hardworking group of seniors graduate, the underclassmen will carry on the tradition by lifting and running all year.  When it comes to the Walpole weightroom, class always shows.