ITEM PHOTO BY KATIE MORRISON
St. Mary’s Abraham Toe, left, attempts to evade a tackle from Stoughton’s Ryan Sullivan as Catholic Memorial’s Jake McGowan comes over to assist.
By KATIE MORRISON
WALTHAM — June is the month for all-star games, and few of them are played for a better cause than the 39th annual Shriners All-Star Football game.
This year, the North team was sprinkled with local talent, including St. Mary’s stars Liam Reddy and Abraham Toe, Revere’s Oscar Lopez and Anthony DeStefano, Marblehead’s Bo Millett and St. John’s Prep’s Declan Burt. Revere head coach Lou Cicatelli also manned the sideline as an assistant coach.
The local group got to be a part of a 21-14 win for the North Saturday at Bentley University.
The event, which is the Aleppo Shriners’ flagship fundraising event, has raised over $1.3 million since it began holding the game 39 years ago.
“It’s a blast. First of all, it’s for a great cause, that’s the number one thing and I think the kids realize that. It’s a fundraiser,” Cicatelli said. “I’m very honored to be here and coach with these coaches. It was an overall great experience, making new relationships and meeting new kids, it’s great. And it always helps to win.”
The game is also another chance for the seniors to get on the field for a meaningful game before heading to college. For Toe, who ran for 20 yards on 10 carries, that chance was important.
“For me, definitely, I thought I had a bad season so getting to play in these games means a lot,” he said.
“It was definitely a good time to get back out here, especially with the way the last one went,” Reddy said, referring to the Spartans’ Division 3A Super Bowl loss to East Bridgewater in December.
For Cicatelli, it was an opportunity to coach two of his seniors before their high school careers came to an end.
“I got to coach them one more time, that’s a great feeling, it doesn’t get any better than that,” he said.
Toe and Reddy both said that the game was similar to a college experience.
“It was fun because you get to see what college is going to be like at practice and on the sideline,” Toe said, “and the coaches are trying to help you out get you going, so it was a good experience.”
“We’re so used to going both ways, in this game we actually had the chance to get on the sidelines and sit down and just talk about things a little bit,” Reddy, who played center for the North, said. “It’s a big difference.”
The teams featured the best talent from throughout Eastern Massachusetts. Masconomet quarterback Declan Judge led the way for the North, and was awarded the Offensive MVP award along with Lexington’s Spencer Kendall.
Millett caught a two-yard touchdown pass from Judge in the second quarter to put the North up, 14-6, and Beverly’s Hugh Calice had a key fumble recovery in the third for the winners. The game was a tight one, with the North clinging to a 21-14 lead as the South threatened on a couple of different occasions in the fourth.
Cicatelli said it’s a blast to work with the best talent from the region.
“What more could a coach ask for? It’s awesome,” Cicatelli said. “Some of these kids are going on to play at some major schools, and it showed. When you get kids like that it makes our jobs a lot easier.”
One of the harder parts of all-star games is getting a team with players from several different schools to play together cohesively. But Toe and Reddy said it wasn’t much of an issue.
“Once we got into the locker room, everyone was cool with each other, so it wasn’t tough,” Reddy said.
“To be honest, some of them, I only knew for a week but it felt like I’d known them longer,” Toe added. “It was a good experience, everyone was pretty cool.”
It showed, as both the North and South marched down the field to score touchdowns in each of their first two drives.
For players like Toe and Reddy, the Shriners game was a precursor to another classic all-star game that they’ll take part in, the 56th annual Agganis football game, which will take place on June 29th at Manning Field.