With a three-yard reception in the fourth quarter of Saturday’s game against Husson University, his second catch of the game, former Mansfield standout receiver Hunter Ferreira set a new career mark for Nichols College. It was his 144th career catch, passing the mark of his good friend Tony Martignoli, and remarkably Ferreira has done it in less than three seasons.
“Definitely doing it in three seasons feels kind of special,” Ferreira said when talking about the record in the buildup to the Husson game. “Tony is a good friend of mine and we always talked about getting records and stuff like that and I think the hard work, getting here in early August and all the way up to almost November, it kind of pays off.”
When asked what his friend and former housemate will think about being knocked off the top spot on the career leaderboard, Ferreira joked, “I give him a call after pretty much every game, let him know I’m creeping up on him. He’ll be happy for me. If he wants anyone to break it then it should be me.”
Despite having his junior season wiped away by the pandemic, Ferreira, who also holds records at Mansfield for receptions, touchdown catches, and yards, is closing in on almost all of Nichols’ receiving records.
He sits fourth on the all-time yards list (1,943), just 49 yards behind Martignoli, and is tied for third all-time in touchdown catches with 13. He also holds the record for most catches in a season (69), which he set in 2019, and is second in receiving yards in a season (912), also from 2019.
Ferreira made an immediate impact at Nichols. He was named second team All-Commonwealth Coast Conference as a freshman and then named first team all-conference as a sophomore. Despite the Bison having new faces at quarterback this season, Ferreira is currently third in the CCC with 47 catches and fifth with 514 receiving yards.
“I think Coach Redding’s program really set me up to have success here,” Ferreira explained, giving credit to Mansfield coach Mike Redding for giving him the confidence that he could be an instant success in college. “I think the way he runs that really gets his players ready for the college level. It wasn’t too difficult for me at all.”
It isn’t just on the gridiron where Ferreira is setting new records. He is also a standout on the lacrosse team and, in just 2-1/2 seasons, sits just outside the top 10 in career goals, assists, and points. He earned second team all-conference as a freshman and in six games as a sophomore was second in the CCC with 23 goals.
Last spring, he got back onto the field for the first time since the pandemic closed down the 2020 season and was eighth in the league in assists and points and 10th in goals.
“Playing the 11 games in the spring really helped give something to look forward to and you’re actually practicing for something instead of just playing against yourselves,” Ferreira said. “I think competition was good and it kind of set me up for this year in football.”
Getting back into a full season of competition also provided a sense of normality during a school year that was anything but normal. He added, “Being on zoom for classes and stuff like that, everything else was changed except for being on the field. That kind of remained the same.”
Having a season taken away because of COVID was a reminder that the old adage, repeated by coaches in every sport, was true. You can’t take anything for granted because you will miss the sport once it is gone.
“It kind of makes you appreciate it a little bit more,” said Ferreira, who can also share his experiences with close friends on the team, some of who he has known for a long time, like his fellow Mansfield grads Joe Cox, another All-CCC performer from the Hornets, Khristian Conner, Phil Dinov, Chris Copponi, and Daenin Walker. “Everyone is kind of going through the same thing. We’re all in the same boat.”
Ferreira is dealing with the challenges of being a two-sport star. He doesn’t have an off-season to load up on credits and he has to miss out on off-season activities, such as fall ball for lacrosse or spring ball for football because he is playing another sport. Luckily, his coaches (Dale Olmsted for football and John Carroll for lacrosse) understand the importance of being able to play both sports at this level.
“Being able to play both is kind of a huge benefit here,” Ferreira explained. “Football was kind of where all my confidence was, but I never had any doubts as a lacrosse player either.”
He had plenty of reasons to be confident. Although the Bison have struggled as a team (1-10 last spring and 2-6 so far this fall), Ferreira continues to put up good individual numbers. But, as he contemplates taking advantage of an extra year of eligibility (because of the lost season due to the pandemic), Ferreira is focused on team success rather than his stats.
“Obviously, I think the team winning comes first over any individual goals,” he said. “I’ve learned that as long as we’re scoring points and moving the ball, I don’t necessarily need the ball in my hands all the time.”
With potentially another year of football and two full years of lacrosse ahead of him, expect to see Ferreira’s name on a few more career records before all is said and done.
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