---- — MBCA HONORS CHAMPS
The Massachusetts Baseball Coaches Association held its annual Awards Brunch at the Doubletree Suites in Westford yesterday with several area champions and honorees recognized.
North Reading High’s Division 3 State Champion squad was recognized with coach Frank Carey accepting the championship plaque. Ryan McAuliffe was honored as the Sectional MVP and R.J. Warnock accepted his plaque as the State MVP. Both stars will return this spring as the Hornets look to repeat as state champs.
Georgetown High, with first-year coach Justin Spurr, was honored for its Division 4 state title run. Sectional MVP Mark Berkland accepted his honor, while Spurr accepted the State MVP award for Ryan Browner, one of the Royals’ all-time greats.
In addition, North Reading’s Phil Dardeno earned the Fred Ebbett Award of Distinction for service to the game of baseball.
Dardeno volunteered over 30 years, serving and leading the North Reading Little League in various capacities. In addition, he’s been a huge booster to baseball at all levels in town.
LONGO STRIKES AGAIN
It had to happen, right?
St. John’s Prep runs off 13 straight wins to start the boys hoop season — shockingly to many.
So this scribe goes out and talks to a couple of the Prep stars for yesterday’s column.
What happens Sunday afternoon? The Eagles, jinxed by yours truly, head down to Waltham and drop a 68-55 decision.
It had to happent, right?
St. John’s, now 13-1, heads to Catholic Memorial on Friday before hosting 12-1 Central Catholic in a Super Bowl Sunday matinee in Danvers.
On the bright side, North Andover’s Drex Costello did drop 26 on the Hawks in the St. John’s loss yesterday.
ONE VOTE FOR COACH K
I have no idea whatsoever if he wants it, or if he might go for it at all, but if I am Salem High Athletic Director Dave Rozumek I have to think seriously about putting heavy pressure on Dan Keleher to apply for the head football coaching job.
Keleher, the head baseball coach for the Blue Devils, is all about Salem. Right now, Salem High is at an important point as far as athletics go.
Salem has to keep athletes at home at a higher rate in order to succeed. Keleher, having been around the school for decades, understands that as well as anyone. He’s protected his flanks well as far as baseball went.
And he was the key assistant under Jack Gati during some prime Salem years.
Keleher has indicated in the past that he’s happy being a football assistant and wouldn’t seek the head coaching job. But you have to wonder how persuasive Rozumek might attempt to be.
CARLOS’ SECRET WEAPON
Haverhill’s Carlos Pena was introduced the Houston media last week, and of course, one of the great citizens in the big leagues, Pena knocked the Astros’ media corps over with his personality.
The veteran Pena should be a stabilizing force for Houston, which, of course, makes the switch to the American League this year.
Pena, who signed a one-year deal, is apparently serious about proving himself as a feared power hitter.
According to reports, Pena has gone back to basics, enlisting the services of his dad Felipe, to help hone his swing as spring training approaches.
“Nobody knows the swing better,” Pena told the Astros media.
Of course, the two weren’t back in Pena’s personal childhood batting cage — that is the racquetball courts at the Haverhill YMCA. Nope, he and his dad have been working out down in Orlando, Fla., where both now live.
Get ready for a big year out of the former Eagle-Tribune All-Star.