Underclassmen Rebels Help Pave the Road to Success.

Jeff Meaney

 

Sophomore Craig Hanley makes a tackle on defense. Photo/Greg Salvatore
Sophomore Craig Hanley makes a tackle on defense. Photo/Greg Salvatore

 

 


 

On October 2 at Wellesley, the Rebels looked to build on their 3-0 record to start the 2009 season. After running the ball for six consecutive plays, Offensive Coordinator Bill O’Connell looks to catch the Wellesley defense asleep with a pass play. Quarterback Peter Bowes rolls out of the pocket and hits sophomore Craig Hanley for a five yard pass; Hanley did the rest of the work finding the endzone for his first varsity touchdown. Later in the game while Wellesley was in the red zone sophomore Dave Thibault intercepted a pass and returned it 80 yards for a touchdown to keep the Raiders off the scoreboard.

     After losing 37 seniors, including two phenomenal senior receivers, talent was a question at the wideout position. Yet the sophomores have not missed a beat replacing TJ Kelliher and Leo Ajemian of the 2008 Superbowl team as downfield targets. They have also been able to shut down the fastest players in the league including Milton’s speedy wideouts.

     Before playing on the varsity football team Hanley was a standout running-back on the Rebels Freshman Football Team. He has the ability to break a long run from anywhere on the field. Thibault, on the other hand, attended Xaverian Brothers High School and had a lot of success at running back for their freshman team. Both with standout abilities, they have come together this year to contribute a great deal to the 2009 Rebel football team.

     Craig Hanley and Dave Thibault at receiver is very similar to the combination of Matt Nee and Ryan Izzo who also started their sophomore year at fullback and running-back respectively. Nee has been Izzo’s lead blocker for three years paving the way for Izzo on his way to becoming the second all-time points scorer in Massachusetts history.  The Rebels hope that Hanley and Thibault will be a deep passing threat for the Rebel offense for years to come.

    To add to their resume even more, both sophomores start on the defensive side of the ball as well.  Hanley has played linebacker, cornerback, and has seen a little time at safety.  Thibault is often responsible for covering the opposing team’s best receiver at the cornerback position.  The young players have been playing well considering the Rebel defense has let up less than seven points, and the offense has scored almost thirty points per game through the sixth week of the season.

     Because they are just sophomores, Hanley and Thibault  needed some extra time to learn the new complex system before they could help on the field. When asked about his experience on varsity Hanley said, “It’s a great feeling knowing I can help the team succeed while just being a sophomore.” It was even harder for Thibault to get accustomed  to the new because his former school, Xaverian, featured totally different formations and plays. Thibault said, “At first it was hard learning new plays and formations but once I memorized them I tried to get myself noticed by the coaches as a contributer to the varsity squad.”

     Big tests are to come for the young players in the upcoming games against Needham and Natick, who are both 7-0. Building off their first season with the Rebels will be key for Hanley and Thibault if they are to become standout players in the Bay State League as juniors and seniors. Hanley and Thibault have seamlessly replaced  their predecessors Kelliher and Ajemian and are on their way to becoming stars in the Rebel football program.