HAVERHILL — Superstar running back Chance Brady was first struck by the excitement that’s buzzing through Haverhill during a recent shopping trip to Butcher Boys.
“The bagger, who I had never met, stopped me and said, ‘Are you Chance?’” Brady remembered. “I said, ‘Yeah.” Then he said, ‘You are great! Good luck this week. I can’t wait.’”
For lineman Dan Burrows, it was a visit to the grocery store that neighbors Haverhill’s Trinity Stadium.
“I was wearing my Haverhill football T-shirt to Market Basket with my mom,” he said. “An older man stopped me and said, ‘You guys are really good this year.’ I said, ‘That’s the plan.’ That’s the first time I ever talked to someone in the community about football.”
For quarterback Tommy Morgan, the thrill set in while reading The Eagle Tribune’s own rallynorth.net blog.
“I read RallyNorth all the time and I saw Hector Longo’s blog about one of the New England Patriots’ equipment managers (Haverhill’s Dave Schoenfeld) talking about us,” he said. “That is pretty cool.”
Just two years removed from a 32-game losing streak, the Haverhill football team is off to a 4-1 start this season — matching its best five games since The Eagle-Tribune began keeping complete records in 1984 — and ranked No. 18 in Eastern Mass.
That including a huge victory over defending Merrimack Valley Conference Division 1 champ Chelmsford last week, and they are now set for a big matchup with MVC Division 2 power Dracut tonight.
The Hillies, who also started 4-1 in 2001 and 1991, have their eyes set on their first above-.500 season since 2001 (8-3).
It’s a whole new world for Haverhill, which was 6-49 over the past five years, and the community is taking notice.
“People are rallying around us in a big way,” said Brady, who leads the area with 926 rushing yards and 15 touchdowns. “The support is endless. It’s surreal to go from walking through the halls at school and hear people mocking you to hearing people say, ‘Go get them!’ It’s been great.”