By Matt Taylor, Contributing Writer
Hudson – After finishing 2-9 three years ago, Dan McAnespie's Hudson Hawks football players not only learned from that difficult season, they improved exponentially over the next two seasons, resulting in a Division 3 Super Bowl berth in 2010. The Hawks narrowly missed their ultimate goal, losing the Super Bowl to Clinton 22-21. This year Hudson looks to return to the big game and take the next step to a championship. With a record of 7-1 after a 35-0 shutout over Shrewsbury, the team is well on its way.
The Hawks are driven by strong leadership from both McAnespie and his group of 12 seniors. Many of this year's senior class played on the 2008 team that went 2-9, and have helped turn the program into a power in Central Massachusetts. Captains Bobby Donohue, Randy Karlson and reigning team MVP Karl Sery play a major role in helping McAnespie prepare for each opponent.
“Our captains have started for us for four years. They own this team and make sure everybody is ready to play each day in practice.” McAnespie said. “Most of all, the work ethic Bobby, Karl, and Randy show trickles down to the rest of the team. This is a fun group to coach.”
McAnespie credits his coaches and players for the program's success, and said he requires three things – on and off the field – from his athletes.
“Off the field we stress that our players do the right thing at home, do the right thing in the classroom, and remain loyal to each other.”
On the field, the team goals are to win the Mid-Wachusett League, beat Marlborough High on Thanksgiving Day, and to qualify for the postseason.
“These goals have worked well for this program, and we'sl continue to pass them down to our younger players,” McAnespie said.
McAnespie may credit his staff and players for the team's success, but it's pretty clear that in his 14th year as head coach, he has built a program that will remain successful for years to come. He was honored last year as Coach of the Year by the MetroWest Daily News.
“That was a team award,” McAnespie said. “When your team plays well, that's how you succeed.”
One of the biggest reasons for Hudson's success is their play on defense. Forcing turnovers and playing stingy defense in their own end of the field takes the pressure off quarterback Jacob Wardwell and the offense.
“Defense is key to our success,” McAnespie said. “Our team plays with a lot of enthusiasm on defense, and it leads to positive results.”
Sery also stressed the need for his team to play strong defense consistently, particularly against opponents like undefeated Nashoba, whom the Hawks played Nov. 4.
“Our defense really gave us confidence against a great Shrewsbury team last week. Now we have to play with the same intensity against Nashoba. They have a perfect record and will be tough to beat. We need to bring our A-game.”
Sery has 10 touchdowns and has forced two turnovers on defense through eight games. He will play football at Bryant University next year.
McAnespie also stressed the need for strong fundamentals and preventing turnovers on offense as keys to the game against Nashoba. They finish the regular season with a rematch of last year's Super Bowl at Clinton, and at home for the 108th meeting against Marlborough on Thanksgiving Day.