KP Golf Team’s Season Successful on Several FrontsNov 27, 2020 10:07AM ● By Ken Hamway
KP golfers who led the Warriors to the Hockomock League’s All-Stars Tournament title are, from left, Pat Reardon, Jared Curran and Mike Matheson
The King Philip golf team competed at a high level during the just-completed fall campaign, producing a dynamic conclusion to its season even though the COVID-19 pandemic forced players to adjust to modifications on and off the course. Thirty-four prospective candidates were on hand for pre-season practice, an all-time high for KP golf. And, although the regular season was shortened to 10 matches, coach Myles McHugh’s squad finished in plus-.500 territory, registering a 6-4 record. Then came the grand finale — the Hockomock League’s AllStars Tournament, which the Warriors won by nine strokes. “The coronavirus forced us to be patient,’’ said McHugh. “The season started late, there wasn’t much time to practice and we had to evaluate players quickly. There also was a lot of paperwork requirements. We had a roster of 21 players and they were glad to have a season after the virus eliminated spring sports and off-season summer programs. My goal for our season was to ensure the health and safety of the student-athletes and focus more on the journey than the outcome.’’ The outcome, however, was a major plus, especially at the AllStars event at Franklin Country Club. Three juniors — Jared Curran, Pat Reardon and Mike Matheson — combined for a 238 score, nine strokes lower than second-place North Attleboro (247) and third-place Mansfield (248). Curran shot a 78, Reardon fired a 79 and Matheson carded an 81. “Jared, Pat and Mike have been with us since they were freshmen,’’ McHugh said. “They were well-positioned to win the tourney and they’ll all be back next year. We feel that we compete well in cold weather and they excelled on a day that featured adverse weather conditions.’’ The Warriors peaked at the right time. They opened the season by going 2-0, then dropped their next four matches, giving them a 2-4 record. But, what followed was a four-match win streak. “We had a lot of momentum heading into the tourney,’’ McHugh said. The Warriors’ momentum and cohesion were linked to leadership and that quality starts with the captains — Matheson and senior Aidan Leonard. “Mike could be a leading candidate to be the Hockomock League’s MVP next year,’’ McHugh said. “Averaging 38.9 strokes for nine holes, Mike is an excellent competitor who’s a good leader and has a strong work ethic. Mentally focused, Mike has a very consistent allaround game and that helped him to become a league all-star. Aidan is steady and level-headed. He’s a consistent competitor whose leadership ability is strong. His encouraging attitude earned total respect from our jayvee squad.’’ Curran, another league allstar, not only was the medalist at the All-Stars Tournament, but he’s also a three-time letterman. “Jared was a key contributor in all six of our victories,’’ McHugh said. “He may be diminutive in stature but he’s strong in performance.’’ Reardon, a 6-foot-4 natural power-hitter, was selected as an honorable mention all-star. “Pat improved his skills and he overcame a mid-season slump,’’ McHugh said. “He peaked with a 34 and took medalist honors against Attleboro. His tall frame makes him a physically-gifted golfer.’’ Four underclassmen contributed to the Warriors’ success by excelling in supporting roles. They include juniors Tim Hartwell and Kevin Birenbaum, sophomore Gavin Croke and freshman Ethan Sullivan. “Tim has been our most improved player year to year,’’ McHugh offered. “Kevin delivered consistent and reliable scores all season and Gavin came on strong during the second half of the season. Ethan will be looked to for strong contributions in the future.’’ Rounding out the varsity lineup are juniors Aidan Gillis and Markus Paschke. Modifications the players quickly adjusted to were social distancing, masks used around practice tees and on buses, no exchange of scorecards and no pulling out pins from the cups. Other changes included the Warriors schedule being cut to 10 matches and the elimination of Sectional and State tourneys. The 55-year-old McHugh attributes the increase in the number of candidates coming out for golf to several sports off the fall menu and the program’s two assistant coaches — Bruce Hamilton and Tom Ihley. “Bruce and Tom are quality assistants who ran our developmental juniorvarsity team,’’ McHugh emphasized. “Their players focused on sharpening their skills at practices.’’ McHugh, who’s been KP’s varsity coach for four years, has a career record of 34-24. His teams have qualified for post-season play three times and his best season was last year when his squad compiled a 10-6 mark. A native of Wrentham, he played football and baseball at Walpole High before majoring in economics at UMass-Amherst. McHugh is married and has two sons. Acutely aware that the KellyRex Division of the Hockomock League is highly competitive, McHugh is optimistic that his returning golfers will make KP a prime-time player in the 2021 pennant race. “Mansfield, Franklin and Oliver Ames are dominant in the Kelly-Rex Division,’’ McHugh noted. “But, we’re now poised to be the favorite to win the division next year.’’ That optimism stems from the just-completed season that put an exclamation mark on the Warriors’ work ethic, dedication and desire.