Sports

They don’t just like Mike in Marblehead … they love him.

MARBLEHEAD – You would think a guy who ran for 300 yards and six touchdowns would receive the loudest ovation of the day, but that distinction was happily ceded by Brooks Tyrrell to his teammate, Mikey Simmons.There was 2:35 left in the Thanksgiving game when public address man Mike Lavender made the announcement many had been waiting for: “Coming into the game for Marblehead, No. 61, Mikey Simmons,” Lavender said, to the roar of the home crowd at Piper Field.Simmons, who has autism, was making his first varsity appearance, after playing on the team for four years and in Marblehead youth football since the third grade. He was in on the tackle on his very first play, leading to another announcement and an even louder eruption.The chant was “Mikey, Mikey, Mikey,” and it’s reasonable to conclude there were more than a few tears stuck to frozen faces.”Mikey is a special kid,” said Marblehead Coach Jim Rudloff, who named Simmons a co-captain for the game. “He has been a part of our program for four years and never asked for any special consideration. He went to all the camps, fully participated in all the drills and never missed a meeting or weightlifting session. He has always been a part of everything we do.”Simmons was all smiles afterward.”It was very exciting,” he said, “my first varsity game. It was a special moment for me and for my teammates.”Tyrrell will vouch for that.”Mikey brings something special to our locker room,” the star running back said. “He puts a smile on everyone’s face. You couldn’t meet a happier kid. He would do anything for the team. To see him be a captain meant a lot to the team. He’s been playing football his whole life, you couldn’t have had a better way to end it.”Simmons hopes to attend Lesley University and enroll in the Threshold Program, described by the college as “a two-year program for highly motivated young adults with special needs.” Only 24 students are admitted out of more than 100 applicants.The people in Marblehead will tell you that Mikey Simmons is one in a million, so he should be all set.TURKEY TIDBITS: There was a brief ceremony prior to the game to unveil a plaque commemorating those who donated to the Marblehead All Sports Foundation, which raised $1 million in six months for a synthetic turf field. Safe to say that more than a few heads were turned on the Swampscott side when fans got a look at it. Swampscott hopes to follow suit at Blocksidge Field … Marblehead has a legitimate college prospect in 6-5, 315-pound two-way lineman Derek Dumais. His grandfather, Robert Till, had the best seat in the house, as he is a longtime member of the chain crew at Marblehead who is showing no signs of slowing down at age 80 … In an odd statistic, Rudloff won the final game of the season for the first time in his five years at Marblehead. The coach, who has a 40-17 record, has lost twice to Swampscott on Thanksgiving, once in the playoffs (Wakefield) and once in the Super Bowl (Bishop Feehan). Offensive coordinator Mike Giardi was kind enough to point that out to Rudloff prior to the game … This year marked the first time in 101 years the teams have played twice in the same season. Marblehead won the first meeting, 35-7, on Sept. 28, a game that resulted from the Northeastern Conference athletic directors deciding to force teams to play all teams in their division of the league during the playoff-qualifying portion of the schedule. “I would much rather there be only one game,” Rudloff said. “The first game there was a bizarre feeling. We’re spoiled. This is such a special game. You don’t just throw that away for the sake of a playoff system.” The teams previously played twice in 1910, 1911 and 1912 … Marblehead leads the series, 52-50-7.uRudloff, on not putting in any new plays for Thanksgiving this year: “Usually, it’s like you went out and bought this expensive car that has been running well all year, but you buy shiny new hubcaps and put pinstripes on it. Not this year. We didn’t put

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