MAYNARD -- Coming in as a freshman at Bromfield High School, Preston Wilkey thought his football playing career was all but over. But at the end of the school year, he heard that Bromfield had reached an agreement to run a cooperative football program with neighboring Maynard High School.
"It has been a wonderful experience," Wilkey said. "I am eternally grateful for the opportunity of being able to play football. I have played since I was in the fourth grade. My biggest worry was not being able to play in high school, because my school doesn't have a team. When I found out about the co-op, I was very ecstatic about that."
Wilkey's woes did not stop after he was given the shot to play high school football. On the third play from scrimmage in his first varsity start against West Boylston in 2011, Wilkey, who was playing right guard, broke his leg.
"I was playing right guard at the time and just tried to push the pile," he said. "I got caught up in the mix and had a couple of guys fall on the back of my leg and it just snapped. It was first start on varsity. It is definitely something that, especially last year, sat in the back of my mind. Now it has made me a stronger player and a more motivated person."
Wilkey helped lead Maynard-Bromfield to its first postseason experience in several years. The Tigers lost to Div. 6 MIAA sectional finalist Blackstone-Valley Tech, 13-12.
"This was the first time with the Bromfield-Maynard co-op that we made the playoffs," the senior linebacker said. "It is really something that I was really happy to be a part of, even though we lost in the first round. It is something that Maynard hasn't had in a long time. It just kind of reassured everybody that the program is going to be a strong program for years to come."
Third-year Maynard-Bromfield head coach Harold Ogilve will be the first one to tell you the type of leader Wilkey is.
"Two out of the three captains this year are injured," the coach said. "Preston has been there everyday to lead the team. He has done a tremendous job with it. He sets the tone and an example for the entire team."
As a testament to his dedication, Wilkey took it upon himself to start the off-season lifting program at Bromfield for its football players.
"Preston ran our weight program at Bromfield," Ogilve said. "He did that so they would not have to travel to Maynard. And that to me was a huge help because we just don't have the staff to run two separate weight programs. So we ran the one at the high school, Preston ran the one at Bromfield. This had nothing to do with my idea; this was just Preston being Preston."
Every high school football player has that defining moment in their career. For Wilkey, there are multiple moments. Wilkey "loves all of it."
"It was a big hit where I was coming up from left backer and read the play perfectly," Wilkey said. "It was straight on one-on-one with the quarterback. The quarterback came around the right side of the line on a sweep. That is one of the moments that sticks out in my career, and we ended up winning."
Wilkey wants to play collegiate football and is considering continuing his career at Oberlin College, in Ohio. The Yeoman have recruited the Bromfield senior pretty heavily, but his decision is not set in stone. Oberlin College is a Div. 3 institution, who competes in the North Coast Athletic Conference.
"I have nothing but good things to say about it, and I have enjoyed my time there," the senior said of the Maynard-Bromfield co-op. "I have enjoyed three years of high school football that I wouldn't change, no matter what."