Sports

Thanksgiving Previews: Classical looks to keep the ball rolling

Keith Ridley will start his last game for Classical Thursday morning. (File photo)

Brian Vaughan has had every chance to throw it in the faces of the MIAA about the inequities of its post-season football format.

But he didn’t do any complaining when the Rams missed the cut in Division 3 North despite a 4-3 record, kept quiet as his team went out and throttled its three non-playoff opponents (including 44-20 and 41-0 wins over Marblehead and Beverly respectively) and refuses to take the bait now on the eve of Thursday’s 105th Thanksgiving game against English (10 a.m., Manning Field).

Classical may lead the series 55-40 with nine ties, but the Bulldogs romped last year, 38-0. One would think that score has been written on some upper-right-hand corner of the team blackboard. And perhaps it has been. But if so, Vaughan isn’t biting.

“I think,” said the second-year coach who played his football for the Bulldogs, “we have just focused on the task at hand. Just win as many games as possible. All we want to do is prepare our kids to go out and play their best football on Thanksgiving morning. Those are the things we can control.”

The 7-3 Rams ended the pre-Thanksgiving portion of their season with five straight wins. They were 4-3 but they didn’t have the points to make it into the Top 8 in Division 3 North.

“Were we disappointed? Of course,” he said. “But that wasn’t something we were going to be able to control.”

The Rams certainly had a lot going for them.

“Defensively we’re playing well,” Vaughan said, “and we’re starting to click offensively too.”

This starts with receiver Nashaun Butler, who, for the second straight season, has eclipsed the 1,000-yard mark (1,132). He’s also caught 13 touchdown passes.

“I don’t know of too many people around here who have done that,” Vaughan said.

Quarterback Keith Ridley went over 2,200 yards this season, and Vaughan — offhand — doesn’t know of too many Classical quarterbacks lately who have done that. Running backs Marcus Tucker and Malcolm Best are getting back in form after mid-season injuries.

“We missed Marcus when he was out,” Vaughan said. “He’s a special kid. Malcolm’s our thunder, and he’s our lightning.”

He’s impressed with the 7-3 Bulldogs too.

“They have some guys over there,” he said. “Not just some. A lot. It obviously starts with (Matt) Severance, who might be the best football player on the North Shore. He is a special kid. If he gets going early, it’s going to be ‘good night.’

“(Ishmile) Bangura and (Prince) Brown are having great  seasons too,” he said.

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