By Don Nicastro
Lou Cicatelli wants a lot of things for the Revere High School football Patriots as he embarks on his 22nd season this fall. Wins. Greater Boston League success. Postseason competition. And, of course, a win over Winthrop on Thanksgiving Day.
However, as the Patriots gear up for their Week 1 matchup on Friday, Sept. 8, at defending Northeastern Conference Lynch Division champion Peabody, Cicatelli simply wants one thing above all else: health for his players.
Last year, the Patriots lost seven starters by Week 3. Football will always have its injuries and nicks and bruises each week, but seven starters? Talk about a snake-bit 2022 campaign.
“If we can stay healthy, we’ll make some noise,” Cicatelli said. “The problem last year was we lost seven starters before Week 3. It was a nightmare. A nightmare.”
The 2023 Patriots so far are a team with a blend of raw talent, seasoned skill and an unyielding spirit. Of course, they’ve yet to play a game that counts, so time will tell how things unfold. That said, Cicatelli knows he has a team that was “hungry” in the offseason to improve from last year’s 4-7 campaign, in which Revere grabbed the No. 14 seed in Division 3 and lost the playoff opener to Plymouth South, 28-6. The Patriots lost their final three games of the season.
But the team had a tremendous offseason, focusing on strength training and team-building activities. The weight room attendance was notably high, indicating the players’ commitment.
“They’re very hungry,” Cicatelli said. “Weight room attendance was off the charts. We had to do splits to get the kids in and out, and we got better, we got stronger and there was a good amount of team building. So far, so good.”
Revere will carry a roster of about 62 players. That’s a good number, according to Cicatelli.
The coach liked what he saw in the first preseason scrimmage against Burlington. Revere found the end zone five times to Burlington’s one. “It was pretty good,” Cicatelli said. “We’ve got a lot to clean up, but you know what? For the first scrimmage, I was very, very pleased.”
Revere’s strength this fall may lie in its skill players, especially the tailbacks and the quarterback. However, the Patriots do have a young offensive line that will require more teaching.
Carlos Rizzo, a senior captain, is once again calling the shots at quarterback. He has shown significant improvement in his poise, strength and speed. And he’s also taken on a leadership role as a captain. “His poise,” Cicatelli said when asked for one of Rizzo’s top traits. “He’s got a lot of poise, and he’s also a captain. He’s a good leader.”
Fellow senior captains for Revere include Hakim Malki, a defensive end and guard; Walter Rodriguez, a defensive end/tight end; and Abbas Atoui, a fullback and linebacker. Giovanni Woodard, a junior, will get plenty of looks at tailback and will get linebacker looks on the other side of the ball. Fellow junior Danny Hou will spark the offense at wide receiver. Woodard’s speed and Hou’s versatility are notable.
The team has a strong junior class, with some promising freshmen coming in, especially in terms of size – size of the young players, that is. “It’s probably the biggest class I’ve had in a long time, size-wise,” Cicatelli said.
Revere’s wasting no time throwing itself into competition this season. After that Peabody opener, it travels to its playoff foe from last year, Plymouth South. Then it’s on to the Greater Boston League for the six-game league stretch, starting with Medford on the road on Thursday, Sept. 21 at 6 p.m.
Everyone wants to know when Everett lands on the schedule – and it’s Friday, Oct. 6. “I think we’ll be OK in the league,” Cicatelli said. “The GBL I think is getting better and better. Again, for us, I think everything goes through Everett until it doesn’t. I don’t see much change there.”