A football season worth celebrating in Lynn

Captains and coaches from St. Mary's, English, Tech, Classical and KIPP attended the Lynn High School Annual Football Luncheon. (Item Photo by Spenser R. Hasak)

It’s usually considered graphically correct when putting pictures in the paper to limit the number of people in them so you can accentuate the activity.

But what happens when the people are the activity?

You see two pictures here, one with men and boys and the other with women and girls. They represent the captains and coaches of Lynn’s five football teams and their cheerleaders — along with the Lynn Public School band that will entertain fans both at the Lynn Tech-Austin Prep game tonight and the Classical-English game tomorrow.

It’s important to acknowledge these young men and women as well as their coaches. They are the leaders of their schools. They are the ones willing  to make the sacrifices in the heat of summer while all their friends are at the beach and at other places that seem far-removed from the classroom and the disciplined structure needed to succeed.

And it’s obvious they put in an astronomical amount of work this past summer too. The four Lynn established schools — English, Classical, St. Mary’s and Lynn Tech, went 9-1, 8-2, 10-1 and 10-1 and counting, respectively, this fall. This was certainly unprecedented in Lynn, and I daresay in any other community in the state. It was a unique season, and we should all consider ourselves fortunate to have watched it. As Lynn school superintendent Dr. Catherine Latham said in her remarks before the annual captains’ luncheon at the Porthole Restaurant, “it was an extraordinary season.”

It certainly was, and it was certainly something to celebrate.

One of the things that cannot be reinforced enough at events such as Tuesday’s luncheon is the contribution made by various adult service organizations to make them all go. Either they help fund these events, as the Brotherhood (represented by Adam Sherman), Riverworks (Matt Williams) and St. Jean’s (David Surface) credit unions did;  or they do the actual work that the Rotary and Lions clubs do so that those of us lucky enough to be invited to them can come, sit down, enjoy each other’s company and revel in the tradition that is Thanksgiving football.

Though I’m not sure this is the motivation for the work that these groups do, it is true that someday, perhaps, one of these captains who were honored Tuesday will step in when it’s their turn and perform this valuable service for the next generation of athletes. I always thought that the only way you get people to care is to show them how much you care. Events such as these go along way toward bringing that out.

Into this tight little club stepped KIPP Academy’s James Rabbitt, the coach of the Panthers’ first-year program. KIPP won three games in its inaugural season, and you have to consider that excellent. And Rabbitt freely acknowledges that he and his team drew inspiration from the success of the four other Lynn schools.

“That’s just a testament to the type of athlete we have here in Lynn,” said Rabbitt, who played at Arlington Catholic and is no stranger to Thanksgiving football.

“We drew a lot of inspiration from what went on with the other schools,” he said, “And I think it led to us having a very good year. We got better as the season went along.”

Rabbitt had some previous association with St. Mary’s coach Matt Durgin.

“I coached against him when I coached at Arlington Catholic,” he said. “And (James) Runner was a friend to me, and a mentor, when it came to dealing with coaching in Lynn.”

Tech and KIPP shared practice space on McManus Field until midway through the season, when KIPP finally was able to get onto its own practice field behind the school. But Rabbitt says he’ll always be grateful to Runner for all the help he gave him.

Lynn English was represented Tuesday by principal Thomas Strangie, athletic director Dick Newton, coach Chris Carroll, cheerleader captains Carina Sansone, Ashley Connors, Ally Furtado and Erin Ring; and football captains Matt Severance and Jacob Miller; Classical by principal Gene Constantino, AD Bill Devin, coach Brian Vaughan, cheerleader captains Samantha Dunn, Dyasia Long, Adrianna Day, Destiny Guy and Chayan Costin; and football captains Keith Ridley, Ishmael Johnson, Javier Delgado and Chase Buono; KIPP by Rabbitt and football captains Olivier Pyram, Kymani Morrison, Mike Brice and Keury Rodriguez; St. Mary’s by coach Matt Durgin, Father Dominic and Father Brian Flynn, seniors Calvin Johnson, Nino Echevarria, Marlon Scott, Aaron Burris, James Brumfield, Josh Mateo, Matt Tansey, Brendan McCarthy, Kyle Bernardini and Afflitto; and cheerleaders Millery Porter, Alexis Schumann and coach Stephanie Mihos; and Tech by principal Robert Bontempo, AD Joe Skeadas, Runner, captains Keoni Gaskin (who was named player of the year by the Eastern Mass. referees), Josh Pena, Steffan Gravely, Kevin Aguilar and Juan Vasquez; and cheerleaders Lizabeth Acevedo, Ashley Avalos and Yuleidy Pimental and coach Colleen Kelly Richards.

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