SEEKONK — Seekonk High welcomes a new head football coach this fall, but one that is eminently familiar with the program in Jason Azulay, a Seekonk grad — Class of 2006.
Azulay takes the reins of a Warrior team that is the defending South Coast Conference Small School Division champion.
The Warriors finished 6-0 in the league during the Fall-2 season after opening with a non-league loss to Somerset Berkley.
Upon graduating from Bridgewater State University, Azulay was a volunteer assistant coach at Seekonk High before becoming the strength and conditioning coach at the University of Rhode Island for a four-year stint.
He then served as an assistant at Case High in Swansea for five seasons before moving on to UMass Dartmouth for another assistant-coaching post.
Azulay was also the physical education instructor at Seekonk since 2019, the school at which Azulay was an SEC all-star at guard and linebacker.
Azulay found that playing on the offensive line, in the backfield, and on defense allowed him to better learn the playbook and, ultimately, to coach.
As the Warriors’ new mentor, Azulay will have to come up with replacements for nearly a dozen graduated seniors, including quarterback J.T. Moran, running back-linebacker Robbie LeBeau, receivers-defenders Greg Desmarais and Nathan Clarke, lineman Brenden Santos, along with linebacker Gambel French.
“I never really got to coach those guys,” Azulay said, “but I would see a lot of those guys in class, in the weight room. They were strong members of that team — definitely hard guys to (replace).”
About 45 prospects came out for this year’s squad, and the new coach senses the enthusiasm throughout the roster.
“They’re definitely excited,” Azulay said “Finally having football is pretty good, doing football things in football times, and having them ready to go.”
Azulay thinks the Warriors will be equally talented on both sides of the ball.
“I think there’s a chance to be strong on both — an offensive line that has a lot of kids that are back in action, and the defensive line, where we lost some other skill-position guys, like Nate Clarke,” Azulay said. “These young guys have to step up, varsity-wise.
“Our skill guys are running back and quarterback,” he added. “Our QB will be Jaden Arruda, a (6-2, 190 lbs.) junior, running back is Harry Murphy, a (5-6, 165) junior, and out at receiver are (juniors) Aiden Petersen (6-1, 195), Evan Seals (5-10, 175), and Stephen Prew (6-0, 180).”
Azulay is expecting big things from offensive lineman Josh Troiano (a 6-3, 275-lb. junior) and three-year starters Aiden Dipalma (6-1, 205) and Ryan Doherty (5-10, 280), both of whom will play on both the offensive and defensive fronts.
“Whereas a lot of position players haven’t had as many varsity reps,” Azulay said, “we’ll have different (personnel) packages when people come on and off. I’m a big believer that you play your best 11 (players) when you can, and that might change for offense/defense, but for the most part, at least 15 of 16 guys will take regular time on both sides of the ball.
“The way that we install it, you can put your base stuff in, and it allows you to expand the playbook on both sides of the ball when you get a chance,” he added.
“We have the fundamental concepts, and we’ll be changing things up from week to week depending on who you’re playing, with base concepts expected to change throughout the season.”
What Azulay is most looking forward to this season is to see how his players’ preparation over the offseason pays off.
“In all honesty, I’m just excited to see the progression over the summer,” Azulay said. “They haven’t been able to be in the weight room, so we’ll hit the ground running.
“Just excited to see the hard work that they put in, (with) a new staff, a new scheme, a new system, and seeing them develop over time and excited to be able to see them out there in a game situation.”