WEYMOUTH — You may recall Tyler Nordstrom throwing the most important assist of the Weymouth High football team of the 2021 season.
That was impressive, considering he wasn’t playing quarterback at the time.
“It’s a good story,” Nordstrom said with a laugh at the end of practice last Friday.
The 6-1 junior will be under center for the Wildcats this fall, taking over from graduate star Aidan Kennedy. Nordstrom had two games at QB as a sophomore, but his best shot came on a gimmick play that decided a 12-6 win over Framingham.
Nordstrom, playing receiver, hit Cam Giblin for a 26-yard touchdown on an optional pass to break a late tie. The Week 6 road win pushed Weymouth’s record to 4-2 en route to a 5-6 finish.
“I was on the move,” Nordstrom said. “I was in the slot on the right, Aidan sent me on the move (on the left side of the formation) and threw it at me down a little bubble road. I bobbled it, caught it , I ended up playing on it. I tried to (get some air under the throw). That safety was pretty quick. Giblin had an amazing hold on it. I just got lucky.
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“It was a game we had practiced. We just thought if we ever needed it…we were going to go out there and try it. It was a big deal in this game. Cam Giblin made a fantastic catch, the defense held up and the rest of the team played this game very well, I happened to make a shot that changed the course of this game.
Brandon Riley, running back/safety, said: “I thought that was great – Tyler not being the starter, but he comes in and helps us win this game.”
Weymouth rarely dives into his bag of tricks – “I’m too direct. I’m boring,” joked Wildcats coach TJ Byrne – but with the Wildcats offense bogged down in a 6-6 slog, Byrne decided to roll the proverbial dice.
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“We practiced it,” Byrne said. “We had injuries and Framingham was doing a good job defending us. So we were like, ‘OK, let’s do something they’re not prepared for. In second year, we trusted Tyler; if Tyler was going to come in and play quarterback, we were just as confident with him as we were with Aidan Kennedy. And in training, he always executed it well.
“It was a draw at the time and we’re deep in their end and we couldn’t get anything (else to work with). It’s not ideal; you don’t want to eliminate the rigged game . But when you have to, it’s good when they connect.”
Byrne will obviously see a lot more throws from Nordstrom this season, this time without the element of surprise.
“I like his maturity in this position,” Byrne said. “He’s got control of the game, he’s got control of the huddle. He’s got great enthusiasm, which is a characteristic you like to see. He loves playing quarterback. He loves playing quarterback for Weymouth. ( His energy) is contagious.”
Nordstrom’s two QB appearances last season didn’t go as well as the Framingham game.
“I faced Malden Catholic in the first game of the year when Aidan went down on the third game of the game,” Nordstrom said. “I struggled (in a 35-6 loss). Then I came on towards the end of the season against Brockton (in a 33-16 consolation loss). I wasn’t still ready. It was a great learning experience, though.”
When asked if he felt better prepared now for college action, Nordstrom didn’t hesitate. “Absolutely,” he said. “This coaching staff has done a fantastic job preparing me. … The offseason has been very productive.”
Nordstrom will pitch to a receiving corps that includes remnants Cam Fernandez (6 touchdowns last season) and Aiden Henderson, as well as Andrew Delgallo, Brendan Farrow and Dante Tordiglione.
Running back Anthony Smith is back, and Byrne likes the sound. The elder, who had the other touchdown in Framingham’s victory on a 2-yard run, was consistent in finding the end zone last season.
“Anthony is a good running back,” Byrne said. “I think people will notice this year what he’s capable of. Sometimes it catches us off guard in training. is different.'”
Smith and fellow fullback Riley will race behind a rebuilt offensive line that has graduated all five starters (six if you count tight end Reece Norris). Weymouth still have three positions up for grabs, but Mike Mastrocola is thinking of playing one of the guard positions, and Tyler Ahern is listed at one of the tackles. Mastrocola and Ahern won a Div. 2nd national rugby crown in the spring.
“Right now, the line we’re looking at now is all freshman starters,” Byrne said. “We may be a bit undersized in some places, but we’re looking more for speed and agility in those positions.”
Mastrocola will orchestrate the defense at center linebacker, with Riley filling a safe spot. “He’s very smart,” Byrne said of Mastrocola. “I would say the same thing about Brandon at safety; they’re sort of the quarterbacks on defense. In places where we need experience and intelligence, we have it. That’s like in baseball – you want to be strong in the middle. We are very smart in the middle.
Weymouth haven’t had a winning season since 2012, but the Wildcats looked set to end that drought last year. They were 5-3 heading into the playoffs, but lost to Central Catholic (35-14) in the first round of Div. 1 tournament then were beaten by Brockton in the consolation round and by Walpole (41-28) at Thanksgiving.
“It was tough,” Riley said of the season-ending three-game slide, “but I think we could use that as a stepping stone to get even stronger as a team seeing the mistakes we made. (which cost us games).”
“We’re looking to have continued success, not just in September/October,” Byrne said of the 2022 plan. “Our expectations are to build on last year.
“It’s like vampires with blood; you give them a little taste and you let them. I’m very excited for this season. They’re very excited. They’ve tasted success and they know what it feels like and what it looks like. But more importantly, I think this team understands better than others what needs to be in place (in terms of work) to get there.