By Sullivan Coady – NEFJ Contributor
Fenway football is back this week.
For the first time in quite a while, high school teams are having their annual Thanksgiving rivalry games make a big return this year. Tuesday and Wednesday night Fenway Park is hosting a total of four games leading up to the first ever NCAA Fenway Bowl in December.
East Boston and South Boston renewed their historic 103-year rivalry to start things off, but it wasn’t much of a game to kick off the week since Eastie could do no wrong, cursing to a 50-0 victory over Southie.
The East Boston offense was able to run at will all night due to big runs from a deep running back committee. Juniors Jaye Kincade & Christian Martinez as well as senior Jashua DeLacruz all scored rushing touchdowns of 30+ yards.
“Protect the ball, no turnovers and we did that, I thought our defense played very well tonight,” East Boston Head Coach John Parziale said when asked what the message to his team was pregame.
On the second play from scrimmage Eastie came out firing with a 51-yard touchdown run by Martinez and never looked back. After a South Boston punt, Kincade ripped off a 30-yard touchdown run soon after, and as soon as South Boston started to drive into East Boston territory, its defense came up huge. Alex Valencia picked off a pass tip drill style to get East Boston back on offense and then finished the drive by also catching a 17-yard TD pass from Taelor Thompson that was tipped by South Boston defenders.
Leading 22-0 going into the second, quarter East Boston kept the foot on the gas and stuck to what was working as Kincade notched his second touchdown, this time from 21-yards out to make it 30-0. The East Boston defense remained stout all night, not allowing South Boston to get anything going momentum wise.
South Boston got the ball to start the second half and facing another punting situation at midfield. This time, Soithie tried a little trickery with a fake punt but were stopped short again by the defense.Jashua DeLacruz took off for 54-yards to the house a play later, extending the lead to 38-0. Daniel Pedronio recovered a fumbled snap by South Boston and then ran in for a 7-yard touchdown to make it 44-0 and to top it all off senior Mario Recinos scored on a reverse from 27-yards out to give East Boston the memorable 50 burger.
“It feels good for me, especially because I did it for the seniors I played years with,” said Kincade. “I wanted to get a good win for them.”
North Andover 27, Andover 26
North Andover defeated longtime rival Andover in an instant classic Tuesday night, holding on for a 27-26 win where both defenses held the opposing offenses to almost nothing until things got a bit crazy in the second half.
Senior running back Jack Ferullo opened the scoring up for the Scarlet Knights with 3:39 left in the half on a run from a yard out to take a 6-0 lead, but the point after was blocked. Andover QB Scotty Brown wanted in on the action too as he drove the Golden Warriors downfield, eventually finding Bret Mondejar from 18-yards out to tie the game 6-6. That extra point was also missed and this send the teams to halftime locked in a 6-6 stalemate.
The Andover defense was led by sophomores Campbell Morrison, Brian McSweeney, and Juniors Jason Osborne and Lincoln Beal. That crew forced a North Andover punt on the first possession of the second half and capitalized right away on offense with Brown finding Chris Dessin across the middle and Dessin took off for 58-yards and a TD to put Andover ahead 13-6 with 7.48 to play in the third. On the ensuing kickoff the ball was popped loose by the Golden Warriors and recovered by sophomore Andrew Walles. Brown again would not be stopped as he ran to the outside and followed his blockers into the end zone for a 7-yard score to push the lead to 20-6. There was no quit from the North Andover side though and Jack O’Connell led a march downfield that ended when he found receiver Brendan Regan while scrambling for a 4-yard touchdown to make it a 20-14 game with 2:48 to play in the third.
The back-and-forth scoring affair continued throughout the final frame. O’Connell hit Nick Ankiewicz for a 21-yard score to regain the lead for North Andover 21-20. The Andover offense needed another big play to help their chances and got it from Brown as he rolled out to his right and tossed a beautiful ball right into the hands of Lincoln Beal for a 53-yard touchdown to take the lead 26-21 with 4:59 to play.
Andover handled the situation with a business-as-usual approach, calmly moving down the field in just over two minutes, eventually scoring on a 13-yard run from Ferullo taking the lead 27-26 with 2:23 to go. After kicking two straight kickoffs out of bounds, on the third re-kick Camden Bethel booted an onside kick that was recovered by North Andover with 2:18 remaining and both teams still holding three timeouts. After a big fourth down tackle for loss, Andover took over with 1:54 to go in the game at its own 47.
Brown found his favorite target in Lincoln Beal again on a pass down inside the North Andover 30. After that, the North Andover defense led by David Cooperstein, Nathan Jacques, and James Federico came up big when it mattered most. Brown was almost able to convert on fourth down, but his pass was broken up by. The Scarlet Knights kneeled out the rest of the clock to win the game before starting the celebration.
“That was a character-building win, gut check time almost every single play and you guys rose to the occasion,” NA head coach John Dubzinski told his team following the win.