EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Sports

February 2, 2013

Rafferty supporters want answers

Why did North Andover fire the popular football coach?

NORTH ANDOVER — Coaches are hired and fired (or not rehired) all of the time at our local high schools.

But the decision last week not to rehire North Andover High football coach John Rafferty after 12 years has touched a nerve among many residents.

Support movements started immediately after the decision was revealed, and a week later they show no signs of lightening up.

Signs — “Bring Back Raff” — have popped up throughout the town.

A Facebook page, “Support Coach Rafferty,” was started the same day he was fired and has received more than 600 “Likes,” as well as numerous postings on the page, questioning the move.

There are also petitions, containing about 700 signatures, supporting Rafferty at several locations in town, including Stachey’s Pizza, the Mobil station on Mass. Ave., and the VFW on Route 125.

During a first-half break in the action of North Andover High basketball’s stunning come-from-behind win over Central Catholic on Tuesday, the North Andover student section (a.k.a. The Crozier Crazies) started chanting “Bring back Raff! Bring back Raff! Bring back Raff!”

One of the common elements in the vast number of complaints is the fact that North Andover school system won’t publicly divulge any of its reasons for firing Rafferty, but it won’t meet with the public either.

“It’s a vicious circle,” said Terry Holland, a former North Andover Booster Club president and owner of Stachey’s, which has a “Bring Back Raff” sign in front of his store as well as a petition inside.

“If you have a problem you go to the athletic director (Jon Longley), and he says go to the principal (Carla Scuzzarella),” said Holland. “Then the principal says go to the superintendent (Dr. Kevin Hutchinson). Then you go to the School Committee and they say they have no jurisdiction to fire or hire someone and then tell you go back to the AD. There’s no way to get an answer.”

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