By Phil Stacey
---- — WINTHROP — In a season of meaningful games, the high school football contest played last night at Miller Field in Winthrop was the most important and emotional of them all.
Playing for the first time since 24-year-old Andover native and Danvers High math teacher Colleen Ritzer was murdered, the Danvers Falcons defeated Winthrop, 39 to 27.
The game began with a moment of silence for Ritzer. Flags flew at half mast, and pink balloons were released in her honor. Members of both teams, coaches and fans wore stickers in Danvers’ blue and white colors, that said “In loving memory, CR.”
“It was obviously tough with everything that happened this week. But we had to rally together and we knew the town would rally around us,” Danvers senior captain Alex Valles said.
Danvers head football coach Sean Rogers, who estimated half of his players had Ritzer either as a math teacher or in study hall, was overwhelmed by the support for his team from both communities last night.
“We talked about rallying within ourselves and turning to your brother when you need him,” said Rogers. “We preach family all the time . . . . and everyone was there for each other tonight.”