Lynnfield’s Flaherty has seen it all in Cape Ann League

LYNNFIELD — If there’s anyone who knows what it’s like to be a Cape Ann League Thanksgiving Day football junkie, it’s Lynnfield line coach Ted Flaherty.

Thursday, at the annual Lynnfield-North Reading Thanksgiving football game, Flaherty accomplished an unusual milestone when it comes to Thanksgiving rivalries.

From Masconomet-North Andover to Amesbury-Newburyport to Georgetown-Manchester Essex to Ipswich-Hamilton Wenham to Triton-Pentucket, and, finally, Lynnfield-North Reading, Flaherty has seen it all.

He may be the only coach to lay claim to having experienced the highs and lows of at least one of each and every Cape Ann League Thanksgiving rivalry games.

“I don’t know for sure, but I am told that nobody has ever done that before,” said Flaherty.

“I’ve now been on the sidelines for at least one Thanksgiving rivalry game involving every league team,” Flaherty said. “The only rivalry game I had not coached was Lynnfield-North Reading, that is until (Thursday), so it completes the cycle.  It was just last week when Pat (Lamusta) and I were talking Thanksgiving traditions starting with what Jim Pugh did at Masco, then some of the other teams I was a part of and I realized that Lynnfield-North Reading was the only rivalry I had not experienced.”

Since 1991, Flaherty has been the wild rover in the league, serving as an assistant coach or head coach of five different Cape Ann League football teams for all but two seasons.

He started at Masconomet as an assistant in 1991.

From there, Flaherty movedto Amesbury as an assistant from 1994-2001 and head coach from 1995- 2001, earning CAL Coach of the Year honors in 1998.

Flaherty spent 2002 as an assistant at Georgetown, then defected to the Northeastern Conference at Beverly for two years as defensive coordinator.

He returned to Ipswich in 2005 as head coach through 2012. He struck lightning in a bottle his second year, leading Ipswich to a Division 3A Super Bowl title in 2006.

Flaherty’s next stop was at Triton as a defensive coordinator under head coach and Lynnfield native and resident, Pat Sheehan, who currently is an assistant at Reading.

As far as his favorite Thanksgiving game memory goes, Flaherty says it’s a tie.

“As funny as it may sound, my junior year at Ipswich High we were playing Triton and we had a huge ice storm and the field was a skating rink,” said Flaherty. “We couldn’t wear our cleats and we were all sent up into the stands to borrow boots, so we played in snow boots.

“But as a coach at Ipswich, the 2009 Thanksgiving game against Hamilton-Wenham is right up there,” Flaherty said. “We won a Super Bowl in 2006 and then lost 33 straight games. We ended up winning 14-13, thanks to a late defensive stand on a two-point conversion and a recovery of an onside kick, then took three straight knees. Our kids had never taken a knee. They had never had their hands team on the team. That moment when the game ended was the happiest moment, even better than the feeling we had after winning the Super Bowl.”

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