WHAT ABOUT CENTRAL ANYWAY?
Let’s just say, for the first time in the Rick Nault Era, Central Catholic won’t be spoken of among the favorites for a state title.
But should anyone shed a tear for the state runner-up?
Up front, the Raiders will be loaded with questions.
Junior Pat Sullivan looked like the ultimate Raider role guy, the ego-free sixth man good for 6 points and 6 boards on any given night. But can he step into a lead role?
Big Sam Lara, the beefy freshman, is a tenacious competitor but he lacks experience.
There are younger big men in the program, but again this is a team that has seen a run of All-Scholastic types like Adrian Gonzalez, Carson Desrosiers, Jimmy Zenevitch and Nick Cambio — with all but the last a scholarship player.
In the backcourt, the Raiders most likely return to that old-school, relentless pressure set of guards, a usual Nault trademark.
Freshman Kevin Fernandez showed some flashes of brilliance in the tourney run — highlighted by a huge 8-point, 8-assist night at the Garden.
Alex Santos, at the point, will score more than the 6.3 points a game he averaged this year.
Sophomores A.J. Pettway and Alec Buresh have a year in the program.
And again, the Raiders are deep and talented in the younger ranks, so it might be a matter of Central being better as the season rolls on.
One is a complete newcomer, the other a son returning to the Merrimack Valley fold.
Still, there was plenty to like and to be positive about in the first seasons at the helm for Anthony Faradie of Methuen High and Paul Tanglis of North Andover High School.
Each introduced himself to the faithful with authority early in the season, meeting in the finals of the Commonwealth Christmas Classic.