ANDOVER – The record says that Andover High lost probably the last greatest football game in Merrimack Valley history, 30 years ago this week.
With about 9,000 fans watching, in the battle of the undefeateds, Central Catholic beat Andover, 17-16, on a controversial 30-yard field goal in the final seconds.
Central not only won the game and MVC title, but it went on to the Super Bowl. It was a huge loss for Andover.
But this week, many of those former Andover High boys, now closing in on their 50th birthdays, were big winners.
While the score of the game didn’t change, several created a GoFundMe page to make a donation, unsolicited, to the family of a former Central star that day, Matt Goulet, who passed away last March.
“Every year my teammates and I reminisce about this game when Thanksgiving comes around,” said ex-Warrior Hunter Lochmann, currently the Chief Marketing Officer with the NBA’s Washington Wizards. “I’m pretty sure we’ve done it for 30 years now. And this being 30 years, we’ve been even more nostalgic.
“We were all saddened to learn of Matt’s passing this past spring, and as I learned more about his life – a very successful career and beloved by friends and family – it occurred to me that there was an opportunity to support his memory.”
One idea led to another, and Lochmann & Co. started a GoFundMe page in Goulet’s name. Andover players were asked to donate $99, which was emblematic of the number Goulet wore.
As of Wednesday afternoon, 20-plus ex-Andover High players have donated. Some who didn’t even play in the game, even coaches. The fund was at $2,600 yesterday afternoon.
Lochmann never met Goulet, but after he passed away he came to realize he was very successful in business (he owned a company in San Antonio) and did a lot for others.
“He was such an imposing figure – larger than life – an outstanding football player and basketball player,” said Lochmann.
“I was programmed to dislike anything Central Catholic while I was growing up in Andover, and Matt was such a central figure in their mystique, along with guys like Sean Finneran and Chris Lane, who both lived in Andover.”
Another special element to the story is that Goulet’s son, Aaron Goulet, is a senior on the Central team and will be playing in his final game today.
When Goulet’s wife, Kathy, was forwarded the link to the GoFundMe.com page by former Central star and Goulet’s best friend, Sean Finneran, she got emotional.
“The Central Catholic community has been incredible to our family,” said Kathy, who graduated from Central. “But to hear about what the former Andover players were doing ... wow. We’re so touched. It just goes to show you how great people can really be.”
As for the game, Lochmann said that will always be a topic of discussion, the good and the bad.
“I still think about this way too much,” said Lochmann. “I’m not sure if it’s normal. But it was such a memorable event. The fact that it was moved from Thanksgiving to Saturday, because of the snowstorm, probably added to the crowd.
“It was such a great game the entire way,” added Lochmann. “[Quarterback] Pat Finn’s audible to Brian Donnellan, to put us up late was incredible. And then, of course, the controversial ending.”
The irony is that a few former Andover High footballers now send their children to Central Catholic.
Lochmann has a nephew going there next year.
“I think the Thanksgiving high school football tradition is one of the best in sports at any level,” said Lochmann. “We were very lucky to have the memories we have. And it’s a perfect time, Thanksgiving, for the Goulet family to know we’re thinking about them ... even those kids from Andover.”
Lochmann on kick: Watch the video
One of the great arguments in local high school sports was the 30-yard kick near the end of the Cental-Andover game in 1989.
Depending on which said you’re on, both have stuck to their story.
Former Andover High football player Hunter Lochmann, a defensive end, said he saw it clearly.
“You know the answer to that,” he said from the Washington, D.C. area. “Wide left. Watch the film.”
But Central Catholic coach Chuck Adamopoulos said the problem is the announcers on the video didn’t see it properly.
“The referee got caught in the crowd,” said Adampoloulos. “The Andover kids started waving ‘no good’ and our kicker saw that and put his head down. But then the referee finally got free and said it was good ... And he was right.”
If you want to donate
If you’d like to donate to the Matt Goulet Scholarship Fund you can go to GoFundMe.com and type in “Matt Goulet Scholarship Fund.”
According to Hunter Lochmann, who initiated the fund-raising effort, the money raised can be used “to support whatever they need or would like to support. It’s all up to Matt’s family.”