Yes, the Knights will ultimately struggle for a year or two as the talent pool re-stocks. But after that? The youth ranks are loaded on the travel level, though.
The competition in the MVC, plus a top caliber head coach, might keep the likes of Chris Bardwell (who returned this year as a senior), Drex Costello, Tyler Dooley, Max Burt and Max Butterbrodt from leaving town as they did in part because of the CAL in the past.
Connolly’s five-year run at the Prep has to be considered nothing short of legendary. He took a consummate middle-of-the-pack type in D1 North team and turned the Eagles into a heavyweight slugger of Tyson-esque, one that regularly traded blows with the resident beast of the East, Central Catholic, and lived to talk about it.
With Butterbrodt, Burt and Atkinson’s Ben Judson back in the fold and the plan in place, the program should stay right where it is under the proper leadership.
Keeping athletes home has never been a problem for Andover or Reading, which will be sliding up to Division 1 to slug it out come tourney time with the likes of Andover and state champion Central.
Under Kim Penney, the Rocket girls have ripped through five straight Middlesex League championships and a 2012 state title. Andover’s Tildsley Era had to be considered dynastic with its eight Div. 1 North sectional titles, seven EMass titles and four state titles.
“In both cases, you need a coach who can motivate kids,” said Downer.
“With that said, you need players. Andover has had a tremendous run. Reading had (Richmond-bound Olivia) Healey. That combination of a coach who can motivate and players that play well together can be lethal.”
Will the AD’s at the four schools hunt elsewhere? Or will they stay true to the folks at home?