NEWBURYPORT — Ed Gaudiano must be wondering if it was something he said.
The Newburyport football coach opened preseason workouts for his 26th season yesterday, only he did it for the first time without longtime assistant Bob Clark. Gaudiano’s right-hand-man and defensive coordinator, Clark, recently accepted the athletic director job at Newburyport. Further adding to the turnover on Gaudiano’s staff this offseason, longtime offensive coordinator Ryan McCarthy left to take the same job at Triton after serving as the Vikings’ head baseball coach last spring.
“It was good to get back out there, but we had some changes and a bunch of new kids,” Gaudiano said. “It’s a little different; we’re trying some new things.”
Gaudiano plans to call his own offensive plays, and along with taking on the additional title of offensive coordinator, he will oversee a philosophical change on that side of the ball. For the past seven years, McCarthy directed a pass-heavy offense when Clipper quarterbacks Joe Clancy (2006-08) and Connor Wile (2010-12) rewrote the school’s record books for passing statistics.
Gaudiano will shift from a pro-style attack to the option, which he first implemented when he called offensive plays in his first 10 years at Newburyport.
“Originally, I was a defensive guy,” Gaudiano said. “Then I came up to Newburyport and did the offense with varying degrees of success for about 10 years until (now Amesbury head coach) Thom Connors became our offensive coordinator. I’m an option guy, so that’s probably what we’ll do.”
Part of that has to do with the personnel on this year’s team. Wile graduated last spring, leaving sophomore Michael Shay and junior J.J. Bajko to compete for the starting job at quarterback.
“I kind of like the change,” Gaudiano said. “It was going to happen anyway with Connor graduating. He was a pure drop-back passer. Both Michael and J.J. — Michael to a greater extent — have the pass-run threat going. We’ll be back under center for the most part. Michael is a little more diverse in what he can offer offensively.”