Growing up in North Attleboro (go Big Red), high school football was always a part of my weekly plans. We went to my buddy’s house which was walking distance from Community Field, then stood towards the back of the bleachers to watch our Rocketeers. Even though our legs hurt from standing, and our faces from the wind, we loved watching our friends take the grass field on Friday nights.
After graduating, I figured my passion for high school football would wane. Now, I cover high school ball on the North Shore and it’s safe to say – it hasn’t. When I started my coverage a few months ago, members of the community would often ask me if I was ready for the intensity, the passion, the connection. What did they mean, I asked myself?
Well, now I know.
Here are some of my favorite realizations from covering high school football on the North Shore the past few months.
It was a Fenwick/St. Mary’s game at Manning Field in Lynn. Aside from a game-of-the-year candidate in front of my very eyes, what I took away was how personable the game was to members of the crowd – and that has stuck with me at all of the other games.
It’s not just a person throwing a weirdly-shaped ball to another person. To some, it’s a son throwing to his best friend, and to others, it’s someone in their class throwing to a cousin. Everyone was connected, and that itself was a nice moment of realization for me.
A Classical game on the road against Revere. Revere fans were ready for that game – and I mean, ready. But Classical overcame a deficit and scored the game-winning touchdown on a slant route from RJ Faessler to John Nasky. I didn’t even have to look that up, I swear. It silenced the Revere crowd, but I was pumped in the pressbox.
That was my second realization. I was truly rooting for these kids. I say kids as if I’m not a few years older than them, but you get it.
Then, how deeply sport legacies run on the North Shore, and how people don’t forget. At a Lynn Museum event this past week, Classical legend Stu Primus told me how many people were at the Manning Bowl during one of his Thanksgiving games, and at a banquet the week before, Saugus Head Coach Steve Cummings said he still knew how many yards a touchdown was in one of his games.
I just love high school football, man. I love the smell of food from the concession stand, I love seeing little kids run around in jerseys, and I love when “Boys of Fall” by Kenny Chesney plays over the loudspeaker. You name it, I love it. So, being around all of that is a great way to spend my Friday nights. Here’s to many more.