There are strong ties between the coaches for East Boston and Boston English, but when they tangle on the football field, it’s all about the competition.
English coach Ryan Conway spent 19 years as an assistant at Eastie before taking the coaching job at his alma mater, and East Boston coach John Parziale said he remains good friends with his adversary today.
On a gusty Thursday at John Sartori Stadium, Parziale’s Jets packed more punch than the visiting Eagles, controlling the action with a strong ground game to earn a 20-6 victory.
“English is a great team and Ryan Conway is a good friend of ours,” said Parziale. “I hate playing him. We love each other. But for two hours, we go at it.”
East Boston (4-0) squandered a couple of red zone opportunities early before senior Aamir Johnson (25 carries, 118 yards, 2 touchdowns) broke through with a 1-yard touchdown early in the second quarter.
English (1-3) also came up empty on a couple of red zone possessions, but started the third quarter with a strong drive to tie the contest, 6-6, on a 4-yard touchdown run from junior Keesean Kerr.
The Jets responded emphatically, with 6-foot, 210-pound sophomore Jaye Kincade (7 carries, 26 yards) running through a pile of defenders for a 3-yard touchdown. An interception by John Festa set up Johnson’s second score, from 2 yards out, and Michael O’Neill added a 2-point rush to put the game out of reach late in the fourth quarter.
“We found a few openings and our line stepped up and blocked a little better,” said Parziale. “It’s a good group and they work hard in practice every day, so it’s fun to watch.”
After the game, former East Boston coach John Sousa congratulated the team on a hard-hitting effort. A senior captain on the 1969 Eastie team that went undefeated, Sousa coached Conway when the latter was a player at English in the 1980s, and served as Eastie’s coach from 1994 to 2009.
“I just told the kids, any time the Blue and Gold gets a win, we’re always proud,” said Sousa.
East Boston is now on pace for a City League title in the shortened Fall II season, which takes place in a context that transcends sport to an extent. For student-athletes in areas of the city that have been hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic, simply getting out of the house to compete is a victory.
“With COVID, East Boston was one of the hardest hit in the state, and in the nation,” said Parziale.
“It was tough for the kids. We had a lot of people who were sick. I grew up here in East Boston. We got small houses, and if you’re stuck there for a year, it’s not fun. They finally get to breathe some fresh air and play the sport they love, so we’re happy.”