By David Willis
---- — HAVERHILL — Feel free to call Haverhill senior Tommy Maguire “Abercrombie.”
The Hillie coaches do, because of his shoulder-length, perfectly coiffed blonde hair, which they say makes him look like a fashion model.
He’s also picked up the nickname “Sunshine” — a reference to the surfer/quarterback from the classic football flick “Remember the Titans”. Or even Goldilocks.
Call Maguire any of those names .... if you dare.
“They call me Sunshine until I lay them out on a slant over the middle,” said the defensive back with a chuckle. “Then see if they do it again.”
Make no mistake, on the football field, no one messes with Maguire.
A hard-hitting safety on defense and a versatile weapon on offense and special teams, the four-year varsity player has been at the forefront of Haverhill football’s transformation. His freshman year the Hillies were winless and last year they were 8-3, their most wins since 2001.
“That means so much to us,” said Maguire. “We wanted to reestablish the pride of Haverhill High football. We believe we can continue that success this season.”
He also was a co-captain and MVC-DCL All-Star for the Haverhill hockey team, hit leadoff for the baseball team, and is ranked 55th in his class of 435 students.
“Tommy is the last of a dying breed,” said Hillies coach Tim O’Connor. “He is a true student-athlete and a talented overall football player. In a given game, we may ask him to play safety, cornerback, outside linebacker, running back, receiver, slot receiver and return kicks. Just that he keeps all the wristbands straight proves he’s smarter than me!”
After playing primarily special teams as a freshman, Maguire broke into the starting lineup as a sophomore by earning a spot at cornerback. Defense quickly became his love, and last fall he made 48 tackles and picked off a pair of passes. He hopes to mix it up even more this season now that the 5-11, 185-pounder has moved from corner to safety.
“There is nothing like laying a big hit,” he said. “No feeling is better, even scoring a goal in hockey. Although that is pretty sweet. Coming up and popping a guy over the middle and the crowd goes wild. People say scoring a touchdown feels good, well making a hit feels even better.”
But that’s far from the only way the jack-of-all-trades contributes.
Last season, when record-setting, two-time Eagle-Tribune All-Star running back Chance Brady was knocked out of the game with Lawrence, Maguire was called on to take over.
How did he respond? He rushed for the game-winning 17-yard touchdown with 1:39 to play in the game.
A week later he showed off his skills as a return man, running back a kickoff 91 yards for the go-ahead touchdown in a win over North Andover.
“I love to get my hands on the football whether it’s running or returning kicks,” he said. “I am the No. 2 running back right now (behind sophomore transfer Ian Kessel) and it’s fun. I am also the holder on extra points and field goals. Coach likes to say I can do a little bit of everything.”
Doing it all
It was quite the busy summer for Maguire.
“An average day was crazy,” he said. “Usually I would get up in the morning for 7-on-7 (football) practice. Then I would go to work and find time for baseball. Then it was a hockey workout at night. And I love to golf too, so I would work that in.”
Maguire led the hockey team in points (18) and was second in goals last year (10). After a rough start in baseball, he hit .342 over the final 12 games to help the Brown and Gold earn a state tourney berth.
Currently, however, he is focused on just one thing .. keeping the winning ways going for the football program.
“We are really excited about this season,” he said. “We lost the three anchors of the team in Chance, Tommy (Morgan) and Dan (Burrows), but I believe we can overcome it. We aren’t going back to before.”