HAVERHILL — Part 1 of the rebirth of Haverhill football was plenty exciting.
The Hillies seemingly had taken permanent residence in the cellar of the Merrimack Valley Conference. The numbers were depressing with the lowlight being a 32-game losing streak.
But the last two years have proved the Hillies can play with the MVC’s elite. They snapped the streak in 2011 and went 8-3 this fall, equalling the team’s best record from the previous 32 years (the 2001 team also was 8-3).
Part 2 of the rebirth may be just as uplifting. Sending Hillie gridders to college.
Those seniors who revived the program are continuing to do the school, team and city proud.
Two-time all-conference lineman Dan Burrows has accepted a hefty scholarship package from Maine.
And the Hillies recently received more good news. Two other Eagle-Tribune All-Stars are headed to exclusive academic schools to continue their football careers.
All-Scholastic running back Chance Brady (2,063 rushing yards, 32 TDs last fall) will be heading to Tufts. Record-setting signal-caller Tommy Morgan (1,839 passing yards, 20 TD passes last fall) chose RPI.
“We want people to know going to Haverhill High and playing football can lead to opportunities,” said Hillie coach Tim O’Connor. “You don’t have to go to prep school or Catholic school.”
The 6-4, 290-pound Burrows said, “We’re proud to be seen as the senior class that has helped bring Haverhill back. When Coach O’Connor came, we knew with this staff and our talent we could achieve great things and I think we did.”
Burrows stressed the turnaround began before the Class of 2013. He said that although the Brown and Gold struggled, older teammates like Brett Pettis, Mac Milewski and Ryan Filliger were top-notch leaders who sped up the rebuilding process.
Burrows always had that impressive size and his work ethic and pride in the classroom completed the package. He also was considering Division 1-AA Marist and Division 2 Southern Connecticut and Assumption.