Pictured last season rushing off the edge, senior defensive end Conor Schlittler (18) will serve as one of three Walpole High School football co-captains in 2021. Photo by Mike Flanagan.
By Mike Flanagan
Hometown Weekly Sports Editor
Despite a 3-4 regular season, Walpole High School varsity football nearly busted its way into the Division III South final in 2019.
Following a 34-19 quarterfinal victory against No. 5 Milford, Walpole gave top-seeded Hingham everything it could handle. Trailing 6-0 at halftime, Walpole stormed back to take an 8-6 lead entering the fourth quarter, thanks to a three-yard touchdown run by Will Jarvis at the tail end of the third. Hingham would score the would-be game-winning touchdown with 7:14 to play, followed by a game-sealing interception with just under a minute remaining.
On Thanksgiving, Walpole concluded the 2019 season with a resounding 29-0 victory against rival Weymouth. Unfortunately, that would be the last time the Walpole boys would put on the pads for about a year and a half, as the COVID-19 pandemic forced the entire 2020 MIAA football season to be pushed back to March of 2021.
Despite losing their starting quarterback, Will Jarvis, to graduation, as well as two of their top pass-catchers in Drew Von Klock and Connor Glebus, Walpole High football enters 2021 with high expectations. It will be different than normal considering the circumstances, but the Walpole boys are ready to strap on the pads and return to the gridiron.
Leading Walpole in 2021 will be a trio of senior co-captains: cornerback/wide receiver Brian Malone, defensive end/tight end Cole Tashjian and running back/linebacker Conor Schlittler.
"Our team is really looking to play as hard as we can and try to win every game," said Malone when asked about his team's general expectations heading into this unprecedented season. "With our limited schedule and the crazy year we are in, we are all very grateful to even be playing. So, we just want to leave everything on the field and translate our success and hard work in practice into games."
The season being pushed back to March obviously brings about a new set of obstacles. In 2021, athletes like Brian Malone, who just recently completed his senior basketball season for Walpole in mid-February, will get a mere three weeks to get into football shape. Throughout his football career in both Pop Warner and high school, Malone has trained almost the entire summer to get his body into football shape. As grueling as two-a-days in the middle of August are, most football players would likely favor them over a two-hour parking lot practice on an 18-degree day in late February with masks on. Nevertheless, Malone says he looks to take full advantage of every rep he can get in practice and that none of the Walpole High football players will be using the weather or the timing of the season as an excuse.
"The adjustment process has definitely been different," said Malone. "The weather and the time of year is different but the group of guys we have this year don’t care about the circumstances and just want to show up and work hard and play the game we all love. There have been no complaints or bad attitudes, and the team is really starting to come together after basically having no offseason with all of us together."
For funny and incisive sports analysis as well as video highlights of games, follow Mike Flanagan on his personal Twitter and Instagram handles @flano0.