Football prepares for unprecedented season with new head coach


Joe Lamburn

New football head coach Mark Allen prepares his team for the upcoming season during practice held at the New England Baseball Complex on March 15. Football was moved to the Fall II season due to the pandemic.

Andrew Roberts, Assistant Sports Editor

After a long offseason filled with uncertainty and the hiring of a new head coach, the football team has returned to the practice field.  

Normally a fall sport, football was moved to the MIAA Fall II season due to COVID-19 concerns.  Algonquin will be playing five games this year, one against each team in their pod: Doherty, Marlborough, Shepherd Hill, Shrewsbury and Wachusett.  Their first two games will be road games, the first at Doherty on March 19 and the second at Marlborough on March 26.

Last year, the team went 5-6 under head coach Taylor Allen. New head coach Mark Allen is the team’s former defensive coordinator and Taylor’s brother.  

“I think [the Mark Allen hire] is a great move,” senior running back and linebacker Rio Ferguson said. “I’ve known Mark since my freshman year and a little bit before that. Once you get to know him and experience his energy, you can really tell he’s the right man for the job.”

Allen is looking forward to his new position with the team. He comes with both experience in football and knowledge about this team.

“I’m looking forward to leading the team forward based on what Taylor built,” Allen said. “We’re just looking to improve upon that.”

Despite the shortened season and other modifications, the team is simply grateful that they have a season in the first place.

“We’ve been waiting a long time for this season,” junior tight end and defensive lineman Joe Scangas said. “We’ve been really eager to play and we were really down when the season was postponed last fall.”

The COVID-19 pandemic has taken a lot away from people and in some cases motivation. However, with the season starting up after a long wait, the team is more motivated than ever to make the most of it.

 “There’s been a different kind of energy and motivation going with the whole team,” Ferguson said. “Because of [the pandemic], we thought we’d have our season taken away; we thought we’d have less opportunities. When we actually got them, we really knew the value of that.”

The team has named five captains, all of whom are seniors: Ferguson, offensive and defensive lineman Mike McEvoy, wide receiver and defensive back Aidan McKenna, quarterback and defensive back Jeff Valentine and tight end and linebacker Colin Wing.

In addition to mentioning the five captains, Allen spoke about several juniors who will play important roles with the team. However, he believes a successful season will take a collective effort.

“We have some young players who are going to step up,” Allen said. “Joe Scangas, [junior] Jason Levin and [junior] Shane Stevens are all going to have a pretty big role in what we’re going to be able to do on offense and defense. We have a lot of key players that are going to help the team. It’s not just those guys even; we have a lot of guys that are going to be able to help out.”

The team is most looking forward to their final two games against Shrewsbury and Wachusett. After their home opener against Shepherd Hill in the first week of April, the team will travel to Shrewsbury. Normally, Algonquin is the underdog against Shrewsbury, but last year they beat the Colonials at home, 17-7.  

“Whenever we play Shrewsbury, we’re the ones that are the underdogs,” McKenna said. “I think ranking wise we’re still the underdogs, but we know as a team and they know as a team that we’re the ones coming off the win. It’s not trying to prove something, it’s more showing that you deserve to be on top.”

Algonquin was the only team in their pod excluded from Mass FBall’s top 50 MIAA football teams. However, Scangas and McKenna believe that every game on the team’s schedule is winnable.

“All of the teams we play are ranked top 50 and we’re around 57th,” Scangas said. “I’m glad they’re doubting us, I love when people doubt us because I know we can do a lot better than people think. I believe we can win all five of these games.”