He is Mr. Excitement, perhaps the single most electrifying player to wear a football uniform in the Hockomock League this season.
Meet Mansfield High running back, receiver and punter Cincere Gill.
Defenders fall by the wayside as Gill darts to the right with the ball, then changes motion and runs to the left. He can accelerate to the briefest area of space along the offensive line or he can be in the linebacker lane within a second, presenting defensive secondaries with the challenge of getting a hand on him.
Gill is a 1,000-yard producer this season, with 926 yards rushing and another 206 receiving yards.
The Hornet junior will likely influence the outcome of Friday night’s MIAA Division 2 Super Bowl at Gillette Stadium between the once-beaten Hornets and North sectional champion Lincoln-Sudbury at 7:30 p.m.
The six-foot, 175-pound Gill is a big-play producer. He had five receptions for 107 yards and scored four TDs in Mansfield’s Division 2 South semifinal win over King Philip. He also had touchdown runs of 59 and 29 yards against Attleboro and an 84-yard kickoff return for a TD against Franklin.
Gill is averaging 9.5 yards per carry for the Hornets with 10 rushing touchdowns while averaging 13.7 yards per reception for the seven-time Super Bowl champion Hornets to go with five touchdown catches.
“There are a lot of backs that can get yards when things are blocked well,” Mansfield High coach Mike Redding said. “He is pretty amazing in that he can get yards even when we don’t block so well up front. What separates him is his speed and his ability to just make something out of nothing.”
Having Gill on the field, surrounded by running backs Nick Marciano, Mike DeBolt and Vinnie Holmes, working with quarterback Jack Moussette and receiver Danny Rapoza through the air, is the primary reason that Mansfield scores early and often, outscoring opponents 117-16 during the second quarter of games.
A product of the Mansfield Pop Warner football program and a member of the Hornets’ basketball team, Gill is in his second season of full-time varsity duty on the football field.
“My freshman year, all of the guys that I played Pop Warner with or against we started talking about how we wanted to make every year special at Mansfield High,” Gill said.
Sometimes, Mansfield lines up in the I-formation with Gill as the third back. But, the Hornets won’t just give him the ball play after play.
“We don’t want teams to throw eight guys in the box and zone in on him,” Redding said. “Vinnie (Holmes) is a threat inside and Nick (Marciano) and Mike (DeBolt) have the ability to run counters and outside stuff. That helps Cincere, the other guys around him prevent defenses from stopping Cincere and that gives him a little more space to work.
“Something that doesn’t look good, he (Gill) bounces back and instead of a 2-yard loss it’s a 15-yard gain,” Redding added. “He’s at a different level with speed at the high school level. He has creativity, trying to create (yards) that other players wouldn’t.”
Oddly enough, Gill was kicking field goals with DeBolt, the Hornets’ resident kicking expert, when it dawned on the Mansfield coaching staff that his size 11 feet could be put to good use booming the ball on punts.
Marciano is the Hornets’ best punter, but he is also the Hornets’ best long snapper, so his value is accentuated as the snapper on field goals.
“So we said to Cincere, it’s your job,” Redding said. “He’s got no form whatsoever, but he has the strongest leg on the team. He’ll kick it into the end zone on kickoffs and when he punts it, it’s never a spiral, but it goes forever.
“What we like back there is a tall, athletic kid in case that there’s a bad snap and we always have the threat of running the fake threat with him back there.”
Fortunately for Redding, Gill was a natural athlete growing up.
“I’ve always had good speed and good hands,” Gill said. “I really have no clue how I became a punter. I was kicking field goals, then I guess I was doing good punting the ball and we don’t have a kicking coach either.”
Gill really never anticipated the success that he has had this season, but he thought that the Hornets would be a special team — one that has won every game in the Commonwealth thus far to take a nine-game winning streak into the Super Bowl.
“I came into the season figuring that I could help with the running and passing game,” Gill said, especially after the Hornets participated in the Summer Passing League at Canton High. “It’s having some varsity experience, getting that confidence and I worked a lot with (QB Jack) Moussette on my timing.”
When Gill has the ball in his hands, it’s an up-the-field progression for him.
“I’m much better at reading my blocks, looking around me and seeing what’s opening up and go,” he explained. “We have so many guys. Teams just can’t key on me. I don’t get the ball that much — I wish I would get it more.”