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Nipmuc Football looks for return to postseason

Sep 08, 2023 08:33AM ● By Chuck Tashjian

L-R, Matt Godin, Tom Howell, Head Coach James Royster, Chris Casey, Daniel Heisler, Nipmuc football’s 2023 captains. Photo courtesy of Coach James Royster

New coach hoping to turn program around this fall

By Chris Villani

The Nipmuc High School football team has struggled through several subpar seasons, winning just seven games over the last three years. But first-year head coach James Royster said the Warriors have the speed and skill this year to win, coupled with a determination to flip the script from prior seasons.

“The talent is there, the players are there, the goal is to turn this thing around and get a couple more wins than last year,” Royster said. “They have lost so much here over the past few years that they are hungry, all they want to do is win. The other programs in the school are doing just fine and they see that success and they want it for themselves.”

Nipmuc, which kicked off the season Sept. 9 at St. Paul, is led this year by a group of captains who are both talented and versatile.

Senior quarterback and defensive back Chris Casey will “play a little of everywhere,” Royster said. Tom Howell is another captain who could see time as a quarterback, a receiver, and in the defensive backfield.

Senior Liam Dorr is an explosive player on both sides of the ball. Captain Matt Godin will be a two-way player as a tight end and outside linebacker, while Daniel Heisler anchors both sides of the line.

“Those are the guys we are leaning on this year,” Royster said. “They did a great job over the summer; the captains did a great job getting everyone to buy in.”

Royster said he was impressed with the level of commitment in the weight room during the offseason and he has already gotten to know his new players. He sees speed as being an area of strength for Nipmuc. On offense, Royster said the team will look to spread out the field and balance the attack between the ground and the air, depending on the looks they are getting from opposing defenses.

On defense, it will come down to who shows up that week in practice.

“If our athletes step up, we are going to play our athletes and if our hogs step up, we are going to play some of our hogs,” he said. “They are competing every single day for a position.”

Royster played on a pair of Super Bowl title teams in Northbridge. He made his coaching debut at Blackstone Valley Tech and served as Oxford’s offensive coordinator before taking over at Nipmuc.

“I can’t wait,” he said. “Nipmuc is a great program.”