Smashing Thanksgiving success
Anyone who believed that Thanksgiving football would be rendered meaningless due to the new MIAA playoff format was proven concretely wrong on Thursday, a holiday that delivered an outstanding slate of games. And two of the most notable statements were made by a pair of local teams.
Many wondered if a team headed for the Super Bowl would simply mail in Turkey Day to rest up for the championship game. Central Catholic say no way, as the Raiders played their starters and played an outstanding game, surging past Andover.
But what about a team that made a run in the state tournament only to be eliminated just short of the Super Bowl? Could they possibly rebound and prepare for a “meaningless” Thanksgiving game?
Pentucket said yes, as the Sachems placed the heartbreaking overtime loss in the North finals behind them and dominated Triton 27-6 on Thursday.
Add in big wins for Haverhill and Methuen, teams that were eliminated from the playoffs early, and Year 1 of the new system did nothing to dampen the Turkey Bowls.
North Reading is known to ride its running backs in its ancient single-wing offense, but C.J. McCarthy’s 48 carries on Thanksgiving is simply mind-blowing. His previous career-high was 31 carries in the Hornets’ October upset of CAL champ Pentucket, and he carried just 91 times in his career heading into this year.
By comparison, former North Reading mega-workhorse Carl Lipani, the man McCarthy replaced, carried a career-high 40 times against Amesbury a season ago and twice hit 38 rushes. But that’s far from 48.
One back that can feel McCarthy’s pain (literally) from that workload is Greater Lawrence’s Joey Pizzuto. In 2009 he rushed 47 times in a loss to Lynn Tech and 46 times in a win over North Shore. In a quick look back in recent area history, other backs to pass 40 carries in a game include Londonderry’s Alex Theodhosi with 43 rushes in one game in 2007 and Timberlane legend Kyle Harrington’s 43 tries in 2001.
Performing for Bruins
Haverhill native and current Nashville singer/songwriter Jillian Cardarelli will be performing the National Anthem before tonight’s game between the Boston Bruins and the Columbus Blue Jackets at the TD Garden.
Cardarelli, who is pursuing a career in country music, has become a Garden favorite for her previous Anthem performances before Celtics and Bruins games.
Betcha didn’t know
Did you know the NEPSAC’s postseason football “Tom Flaherty Bowl” is named after longtime Pentucket High and Milton Academy head coach Tom Flaherty? The bowls are named for Prep football coaches who made an significant impact.
Who won this year’s Flaherty Bowl? Appropriately it was Milton Academy.
Now in his 70s, Flaherty — a resident of West Newbury — is still going strong, as an assistant coach for Pentucket football and baseball. His coaching tree is also having a big year, with Central Catholic ready to play in the Division 1 Super Bowl and Pentucket going to the Division 4 North final. Chuck Adamopoulos and Steve Hayden both played for Flaherty at Pentucket.
Where’s the loyalty?
While playing “NCAA Football 2013” on PlayStation I was shocked to see a blue chip prospect from Lawrence (yes, Mass., not Kansas) in my recruiting pool usually made up of players from Texas and Florida. Despite my best efforts the fictional prospect, sadly, did not sign to play for me at Boston College. It seems my connections meant nothing to a computer image (kidding).
How intimidating must it have been to face former Arizona Diamondbacks relief pitcher Ryan Doherty — not the 2012 Eagle-Tribune defensive Player of the Year from Central Catholic — who at 7-foot-1 set the record for the tallest player in minor league baseball history.
Well, the pitching thing didn’t really work out. Despite a very respectable 2.74 ERA and just 41 walks in 84 career games, the Diamondbacks released Doherty after just three seasons (2005-07) and no other team showed real interest.
But now Doherty is using his eight to his advantage, as one of the top players and the top earner on the professional beach volleyball tour.