The Brookline High School football team has been mired at the bottom of the Bay State Conference for most of the 2000s. The Warriors are 7-48 over the last five years and suffered through a 1-10 campaign last season that saw the team put up seven points a game to the opponents 35 a night.
Enter Kevin Mahoney and a new coaching staff in 2010.
Mahoney, 30, is no stranger to Brookline football. As a member of the class of 1998, Mahoney helped the Warriors claim two Carey division titles and one Bay State Conference outright title.
"We went into games knowing we were going to win and expecting it," Mahoney said of his playing days. "That's the same kind of confidence that I want to see in our players. I want to see a certain type of swagger because confidence is good."
His mission, and he's decided to accept it, is to get the program back to being a respectable team in the Bay State and possibly in the state.
With Brookline football, it's always come down to a numbers game, according to the new coach. Last season, the team finished with 30 players on the roster. The offense needs 11 guys and the defense needs 11 guys on the field when they take the gridiron, so many of those kids were playing multiple positions in a talented conference.
This year, Mahoney said he has 47 kids dressed and ready to go for today's game against Natick, a team that went to the Super Bowl last season.
Mahoney has been coaching in the Brookline ranks for the past six years at the middle school and freshman level, so to him his job is more than taking care of the varsity team.
"The big thing is we want to attract kids in grades 4-8," he said. "I don't look at myself as just the high school football coach, but I'm the director of the town's entire football system. Ultimately a kid that is in fifth grade now, we can't turn our back on, because that kid will be playing in our program in a few years. We need to make sure that he is getting a quality football experience."
Mahoney is trying to get the word out around town about the football program as well. He has scheduled four shows with Brookline Access Television and he said there are plans to get the games televised so more attention can be given to the team.
"It is important not that we be successful (with wins) immediately, but that we are out there and our games are on television, that we are doing shows and highlighting the success of our kids in the program now so that the youth of Brookline will look up to some of the high school kids and want to have the pride to grow up and put on the Red and Blue," he said.
It's a long-term plan for Mahoney, but this season he does have some pieces to work with. The majority of his squad will come from the sophomore and junior class as he said he only has one senior starter on the squad.
Phil Callistro, a new student originally from Virginia, has impressed the players and coaching staff enough in camp that he will don one of the captain's jerseys. Callistro will split time at running back and linebacker, and when Mahoney was asked to describe his new player, the first thing that he said was "he's very good."
Sophomore quarterback Greg Thiesen will be learning on the job and Leon Scott, a 6-foot-3-inch 185-pound wide receiver will make a big play target for the young signal-caller to find on the field.
This season will be sort of a starting point for a program that has been sputtering for the past decade and Mahoney plans on taking it day-by-day with this young group.
"This year is really to install what we are doing and teach kids how to work the right way, have them handle adversity positively and learn from our mistakes," he said.
As a young coach, Mahoney may be just what was needed to bring Brookline back to prominence.
"I want to be the in this for the long haul," he said. "I want every youth in Brookline to have the same positives and winning experience I had when I was growing up. "