WOBURN — Rocky Nelson has been a mainstay on the football sideline at Woburn High for 47 years, the last 31 as head coach of the Tanners.
In his finale on the sideline Thursday morning, Nelson watched as senior Tyler Hayden stuffed Winchester’s potential go-ahead 2-point try with 33 seconds left, securing a riveting 22-21 victory for Woburn in the 112th meeting between the programs.
Woburn stops the 2-pt. Conversion, 22-21 Woburn with 33 seconds remaining pic.twitter.com/2nGZ7l8XTq— Lenny Rowe (@GlobeLennyRowe) November 24, 2016
“I grew up here, I’ve played here. I taught physical education for 37 years, I’ve been a head coach for 31. I was an assistant for 16,” said Nelson. “I’ve been here my entire life, I raised my family here. I love Woburn, that’s all I can tell you.”
Senior captain Dave MacNeil ran to the sideline and embraced Nelson after the stop.
“He’s like my second father. You don’t get someone as good as Coach Nelson,” said MacNeil. “If you need help, he’s going to be there for the rest of your life.”
After the clock hit zero, the Tanners celebrated and lifted up their coach to “Rocky, Rocky,” chants in the end zone.
Nelson said he was looking forward to a Thanksgiving feast.
“It’s going to taste very sweet today,” said Nelson.
“I’ve been saying all week long. In this rivalry we’ve played for Super Bowls, league championships. Both teams were 5-5, both teams were playing for a winning season. Pride was on the line, and I thought both teams played an unbelievable football game.”
Hayden also scored the go-ahead score for Woburn with 5:18 left in the fourth, his third of the day, converting a fourth-and-1 bid from the 13.