There were instant classics, career performances, thrilling finishes, and overtime drama on high school football fields across Eastern Massachusetts on Thanksgiving morning. For many a senior, this was the last time suiting up in school colors; perhaps the last competitive football game they’d ever play. For coaches such as Marshfield’s 37-year mentor Lou Silva, the sunny morning punctuated a storied career that spanned decades, impacting the lives of hundreds upon hundreds of high school athletes.
Here’s a glimpse at a few defining moments that resonated.
Wrestling the job away
After limping off the field during the first quarter of a 28-6 victory at Newton South, Lincoln-Sudbury senior running back Andrew Marshall returned to break a 40-yard run, climbing over 100 yards for the day and 1,000 yards in his first full season on the varsity.
Last fall, Marshall left town for a family funeral after the first game of the season. Feeling he would not be able to catch up, he did not return to the team. But after winning the 195-pound New England wrestling title last winter, he felt ready to return to the football field.
“Wrestling got me really prepared,” said the 5-foot-9-inch, 195-pound Marshall, who finished with a game-high 132 yards for the 11-0 Warriors. “I got into great shape this offseason and came out and won the starting job. It’s been a great ride.”
Coach gets game ball
Abington and Whitman-Hanson have clashed 107 times on Thanksgiving Day. Jim Kelliher has been on the Abington sideline for 50, as a player or a coach. On Thursday, he was presented with a game ball before kickoff. After the Green Wave capped a 7-4 season with a 23-12 win, he received a No. 50 jersey, signed by players from the past four-plus decades.
“I love what I do,” said the 44-year head coach.
It was quite the atmosphere to be thrown into the fire, but Wellesley sophomore quarterback Matt Maiona was not swayed by the pressure of the 130th Needham-Wellesley matchup. Making his first varsity start — replacing senior Jack Tishman (MCL injury) — Maoina led the host Raiders to a 23-20 win. The sophomore QB was 9-for-12 passing for 107 yards and a touchdown. He also snared a game-clinching interception in the fourth quarter.
“It’s hard to match what Tishman was doing,” said Maiona. “He was really good all season. But this is awesome.”
Ipswich earns its share
Ipswich closed out a 6-5 season on a high note, knocking off Division 6 North finalist Hamilton-Wenham, 22-20, in overtime to earn a share of the Cape Ann Baker title at 3-1 with the Generals and Lynnfield.
Hamilton-Wenham struck first in extra time but failed to convert the 2-point conversion.
When Tigers junior QB Ben Yanakakis scored a 2-yard keeper and then connected with senior Alex Bruham for the go-ahead conversion, the ups and downs of the previous 10 games evaporated.
“Playing for the league title, whether or not it was a three-way tie, there was something to play for today, and that really motivated the guys . . . it was very special,” said Ipswich coach Kevin Fessette.
Time to applaud
In a move usually confined to the basketball court, Marblehead coach Jim Rudloff pulled quarterback Andy Clough in the middle of a drive, allowing the senior to be showered with applause from the fans lining Christopher N. Niper Field. The 6-7 Clough (donning No. 87) was masterful against Swampscott, directing Marblehead to a 35-17 victory with three touchdowns and 100-plus yards rushing. “I love my receivers,” said Clough, who started the season at tight end. “I trust my receivers and I have full faith in them.
Dan Johnson (North Attleborough, Class of 2011) was among the inductees into the Attleboro area Hall of Fame on Thursday. His father, Don, a previous inductee, is in his ninth season as head coach of the Red Rocketeers. And he coached his son. “I was very proud of the way he handled it because there’s a great deal of pressure on the kid when dad is the coach,” said the elder Johnson. “I thought he handled it in a mature way and I was very proud of that.” The other honorees: Kevin Cryan (Attleboro ’78), Matt Howe (Attleboro ’08), Tyler McCarthy (Attleboro ’09), Alex Getty (North Attleborough ’13), Brett Masterpoll (North Attleborough ’10) and Paul McCarthy (North Attleboro ’11) . . . Boston Latin started the season 0-9, but closed the season with back-to-back wins over Matignon (34-8) and then Boston English (22-14) in their 131st meeting. “The season overall we’ve had to play through a lot of adversity, a lot of injuries and stuff and we just wanted to get this win,” said senior co-captain Will Parsons . . . With its 38-0 shutout of Lynn Classical, Lynn English (10-1) registered 10 wins for just the third time in program history. “To go 10-1 and finish off in fashion on Thanksgiving is spectacular,” said coach Chris Carroll. “I am so proud of our program and so proud of our kids . . . King Philip extended its state-best winning streak to 24 games with its 28-0 win over Franklin, the longest since Xaverian won 25 in a row from 2014-16. “It’s hard to get your mind around that,” said King Philip coach Brian Lee. “Especially in this playoff time, because you’re playing such high-caliber teams, it’s just hard.” . . . In the 99th Thanksgiving meeting between East Boston and South Boston at White Stadium, Brandon Ortega was the catalyst for Eastie’s 16-0 victory, churning out 101 yards and both touchdowns on 16 carries. It was a perfect ending Ortega’s high school career, who was greeted by raucous cheering in the locker room after the game.”Compiled by Brandan Blom, Henry Brechter, Karl Capen, Katherine Fominykh, Dan McLoone, Lenny Rowe, Mike Scandura, Dan Shulman, and Nathaniel Weitzer.