Fitchburg State Football, Coach Scott Sperone, Mukandu Ashema, Burncoat High


FITCHBURG – The long and frustrating wait game is over for new Fitchburg State University football coach Scott Sperone and former Burncoat High star Mukandu Ashema.

Last fall, due to the pandemic, it was a season without football games for Sperone, who was hired in February 2020, and Ashema, who had transferred from the University of Maine and had only played for them. Falcons only during the 2019 season.

“It’s great to be back here on the football field in Fitchburg,” said Ashema, one of Burncoat’s top defensive backs and quarterbacks during his high school days. He shows his green and white uniform.

“Same colors as Burncoat,” Ashema added with a smile.

Standing with Ashema recently on the grass at Elliot Field, Sperone, 42, was also all smiles, eager to finally get back to college training when the Falcons open their schedule to Dean on Saturday at noon.

“We lost a whole football season last fall,” said Sperone. “We spent a day in the weight room, then we had a COVID outbreak and everything closed. In the spring, earlier this year, we were in the weight room with very small groups of eight players and had 15 workouts. Now it’s nice to be here with towels. My joke with our athletic director Matt Burke was “I bet when you hired me you didn’t think I would go undefeated in my freshman year.” “

Sperone, who played football at Montville High in New Jersey and Springfield College, is Fitchburg State’s first full-time football coach. Prior to joining the Falcons, he was WPI’s defensive coordinator for three seasons. He has also been an assistant coach at Fairleigh Dickinson, Stonehill, King’s College, Williams, Brown and Merrimack College.

Former Burncoat High star Mukandu Ashema receives instruction during a recent Fitchburg State football practice.

“We are thrilled to bring Coach Sperone to the Fitchburg State University community and the Falcon family,” said Burke. “He is an accomplished and talented football coach and has a proven track record on and off the pitch. Coach Sperone brings a deep understanding of what it takes to build and maintain a winning culture. I have confidence in his capabilities and vision for the program.

Commenting on his first job as a head coach at the university, Sperone said, “This is what I have been preparing for for 19 years and have had great mentors throughout my journey. I have worked with five coaches who have won conference championships.

Falcons have a real leader in Ashema

Praising his 6-1 / 1, 200-pound senior defensive star Ashema, Sperone said, “Mukandu is an exceptional athlete, our guy from Central Mass. and one of our leaders. He’s someone who has the ability to cover, rush the passer and cover the playing area, and we’ve put him in a place where he’s able to do all of these things.

“We want him to run and fly and be the athlete he is,” added Sperone. “We are also counting on him to be part of our special teams as well, returning kicks and punts. We’ll let him catch his breath a bit when we get on offense, although I’m sure he will. ‘he “I’ll try to get us the ball in attack too.

“It feels good to be close to home, but not too close to home,” said Ashema, a 2016 Burncoat graduate. “This season opener has been a long time coming, but we’re ready. there is a lot of energy here.

Ashema is a tri-captain, with senior quarterback Joe Haskins and senior safety Joel Monteiro.

Other key Falcons include senior wide receiver Tim O’Neill, junior linebacker Dakota Lucero and junior offensive lineman Joe Asare.

Former Burncoat High star Mukandu Ashema chases football during a drill at a recent Fitchburg State football practice.

“This last year and a half with football retired has really made our players appreciate what they have lost,” said Sperone. “Everyone is delighted to be back. It was 95 degrees the first day of training, but no one complained. I’m really excited to be participating on our first day of the game. My last match practice was in 2019 at the WPI in the New England Bowl against Western Connecticut, and we won. “

“We want to establish a culture here where we have a group of altruistic players playing together. If we do that, we’ll put ourselves in a position to win games, ”said Sperone, who among his 90 players has student-athletes from 20 states, including California, Ohio, Georgia, Illinois. , Florida and even two from Alaska and two more from Canada. “With the pandemic, we scoured the internet and recruited nationally. We’re looking to put the top 11 players on offense and defense. Our goal is always to win the next game, which is Dean’s right now, and not look too far ahead. “

Born and raised in New Jersey, Sperone, who currently lives in West Boylston, added with a laugh, “I’ve always been a New York Jets fan, so that means I’m loyal.”

—Contact Jay Gearan at Follow him on Twitter @tgsports.

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