Pictured handing the ball off in 2019 against Milton, quarterback Will McDonald (left) says he and his Needham teammates are ready to dish out some revenge this spring as the senior will serve as one of seven co-captains for the Rockets. Photo by Mike Flanagan.
By Mike Flanagan
Hometown Weekly Sports Editor
Needham High School varsity football last played on Thanksgiving Day in 2019, a 27-0 defeat to arch rival Wellesley.
After the offseason was extended by about eight months, thanks to the entire 2020 MIAA football season being pushed back to March of 2021, the Needham boys will finally have the chance to go on what they deem "a revenge tour" throughout the next two months.
Starting March 13 on the road at Braintree, Needham will play a five-game, conference-only schedule. The Rockets will play two home games against rival Wellesley (March 19) and Milton (April 9), along with two other away games against Brookline (March 26) and Natick (April 1).
Tasked with leading Needham through this unprecedented and shortened season will be a rotating set of seven senior co-captains: quarterback Will McDonald, defensive back/place kicker/punter Sam Chutkow, wide receiver/tight end Andrew Barnett, wide receiver Patrick Toolan, defensive end Steven MacKenzie, linebacker Ben Leslie and running back Thomas Fullbrook.
"I think this year, the word going around is 'revenge,'" said McDonald when asked about his team's general mindset heading into the season. "A lot of us are using last year's record and how the season went as motivation to get some W's and show the Bay State Conference what we've got."
Asked about the day-to-day grind of preparing for a football season in the middle of the winter instead of the normal summer months, McDonald says he and his teammates certainly have had to make adjustments. McDonald also says that despite the adversity, he and his teammates are accepting the challenges and realize that all of their opponents are going through the same thing. There will be no excuses, and good results on the field are expected.
"This offseason has definitely been like no other," said McDonald. "With COVID and all the new guidelines, it’s been hectic. Due to the weather, we weren’t able to get on the field for our first week of practice, and we really had to dial in and focus during our short in-person practices in our parking lot, along with our Zoom that followed practice. There has been a lot of high energy and focus despite the obstacles we’ve had to face as a team. I think it’ll all come together when we get out there on the gridiron, and it’ll be scary."
For funny and incisive sports analysis as well as video highlights of games, follow Mike Flanagan on his personal Twitter and Instagram handles @flano0.