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Shriners Football Classic is back after two-year hiatus because of the pandemic

Tewksbury quarterback Danny Fleming will be playing for the North All-Stars in the Shriners Football Classic.Nathan Klima for The Boston Globe/The Boston Globe

Two nights before the 44th Shriners Football Classic at the pre-game banquet, Masconomet senior Oliver Hanson delivered a reminder to all the participants and organizers about the importance of the game.

When he was 18 months old, Hanson suffered serious burns and was rushed to the Shriners Children’s Hospital in Boston, where he said medical professionals were able to treat him and prevent the potential amputation of one of his legs.

Now the 5-foot-10 offensive guard is set to represent the North against the South in an all-star game featuring the best football players from throughout Eastern Massachusetts which returns to Bentley on Friday night (7 p.m.) after a two-year hiatus because of the pandemic.


“[Hanson]’s message really spoke to the whole team as an example of what the Shriners do,” said Tewksbury senior Cole Kimtis, who will also play guard on the North offensive line.

“Obviously [the Shriners] are helping everybody they can, but to see a player might not have been able to walk, let alone play, now everybody truly understands who we’re playing for. It’s a huge motivational factor and it really resonates with everyone.”

Kimtis and fellow Tewksbury selections, Danny Fleming and Davenche Sydney, worked with the Redmen club to raise funds for the Aleppo Shriners Children’s Transportation Foundation. All participants helped raise money and all proceeds will go to the fund, which helps pay flight costs to Boston for children in need of immediate emergency care after significant burns.

Tewksbury coach Brian Aylward will lead the North side against Norton coach Jim Artz and the South. Aylward was once a waterboy on the sidelines in the third Shriners game in 1981, and played in the game in 1987 before serving as an assistant for the North in 2004 and 2012.

“It’s been the gold standard of high school football since 1979,” Aylward said. “We’re trying to get it back to that level and have a good game that will generate more interest as we move forward the next few years”


“It truly is a game where everybody wins, but the football coach in me wants to compete.”

Kimtis said he’s playing for his brother, Robbie, who was selected in 2020 but never got to play in the game.

On the other side of the ball, Artz was initially named coach in 2020, the year after he was named head coach at Norton, but the two-year delay allowed his son, two-way lineman J.D. Artz, to blossom into an all-star and a South selection.

“That’s probably the only good thing to come out of the pandemic,” said Artz, a Bridgewater State graduate who had multiple stints as a coach at Stonehill College.

“They left me in place for two years and [J.D’s] play and effort through his senior year afforded the opportunity for him to do what he’s doing now, so that’s pretty special.”

Artz said when he was an assistant coach at Foxborough he remembers a player, Gary Hobel, who was treated for severe burns at Shriners as an eighth grader and went on to play in the game four years later, highlighting the importance of the foundation.

“Because of the two-year lapse, people have kinda lost sight of what the game is really about,” said Artz. “As much as there’s a big game Friday, it’s more important that all the kids have raised money and created opportunities for others in need. The football and talent will be there, because you’ll see some of the best players in the state, but it’s second fiddle to what the Shriners are doing.


South All-Stars

RB/LB Jake Adelmann (Natick)

OL/DL Jack Appelbaum (Medway)*

OL Brett Armstrong (Rockland)

QB Jared Arone (Franklin)

OL/DL J.D. Artz (Norton)

OL Brandon Baker (North Quincy)

RB/LB Tyler Bannon (North Attleborough)

OL/DL Aaron Becker (Natick)

WR/DB Johnny Bennett (Dover-Sherborn)*

RB/DB Justin Bloise (Nantucket)*

RB/DB Crawford Cantave (King Philip)

TE/DL Ryan Carroll (Silver Lake)

ATH P.J. Celestino (Rockland)

LB Cadence Chase (Fairhaven)

RB/LB Malcolm X Chrispin (Latin Academy)

OL Mark DeGirolamo (Mansfield)

ATH Tyler DeMattio (North Attleborough)

LB Michael Donahue (Cohasset)

LB Drew Donovan (Abington)

OL/DL Dylan Drozek (Ashland)

OL Edward Ellis Jr. (Catholic Memorial)*

TE/DE T.J. Farrell (Walpole)

OL/DL Jay Fox (Cohasset)*

RB Dylan Gordon (Foxborough)

ATH Jathan Greene (Brighton)

RB Mack Gulla (Franklin)

OL/DL Hunter Hastings (King Philip)

OL/DL Kaleb Hatt (Martha’s Vineyard)

RB Eugene Jordan (Barnstable)

WR Shane Kindred (Franklin)

RB/LB Amari Marsman (Milton)*

OL Zack McBrine (Cardinal Spellman)

LB Shea McClellan (Abington)

TE/LB Caleb Newman (Dighton-Rehoboth)

OL Patrick O’Neill (Barnstable)

DL Daniel Pedronio (East Boston)

LB Caleb Procaccini (Apponequet)

OL Carter Reynolds (Plymouth South)

WR/DB Trent Santos (Taunton)

OL Michael Sheskey (Scituate)

OL/DL Jacob Snoeyink (Natick)

WR/DB Lucas Suazo Rodrigues (Latin Academy)

RB Keegan Sullivan (Scituate)

RB Anthony Tripolone (Norton)

WR/DB Rashaad Way (Foxborough)

OL/DL Jared Vacher (North Attleborough)

QB Chase Vaughan (Milton)


OL Braeden Veno (Mansfield)*

OL/DL Logan Verhaegen (Middleborough)*

North All-Stars

OL/DL Sharieff Andrews (Malden Catholic)

ATH Xaviah Bascon (Swampscott)

DL Jayden Biggi (Everett)

RB JC Clerveaux (Everett)

OL Jake Chirichiello (Wilmington)

K Liam Connor (Middlesex)

OL David Cooperstien (North Andover)

OL Jacob Cuddire (St. John’s Prep)

RB/LB Chris Domoracki (Hamilton-Wenham)

RB Steve Donnelly (Northeast)

OL/DL Nick Entner (Andover)

WR/DB Gavin Erickson (Wilmington)

QB/DB Danny Fleming (Tewksbury)

RB/LB Shea Fogarty (Melrose)

OL/DL Peter Gardikas (Peabody)*

TE Christopher Gill (Malden Catholic)

WR Adam Goodfellow (Wayland)

OL Oliver Hanson (Masconomet)

LB Michael Hennessey (Chelmsford)

RB/DB Jordan Irvine (Beverly)

DL Peter Jurovich (Winthrop)

OL/DL Kevin Kazadi (Woburn)*

OL/DL Cole Kimtis (Tewksbury)

WR Alvin Legros (Medford)*

WR/DB Jack Lucido (Georgetown)

DL Kevin Ma (Middlesex)

OL John McDonough (Northeast)

OL/DL Joey Mignone (Swampscott)*

LB Marcello Misuraca (Wilmington)

DB Matt Mitchell (St. John’s Prep)*

RB Aaron Morris (Lowell)

QB/DB Jake Morrison (Bedford)

WR Charlie Naylor (Bedford)*

OL Michael O’Brien (Lynnfield)

OL Thomas O’Brien (Reading)

QB Jack O’Connell (North Andover)

OL/DL Colin Owens (Watertown)

LB George Percy (Marblehead)

LB Mike Perez (Peabody)

K Shaan Rana (Billerica)

OL Jake Richards (Whittier)

OL Mike Rickard (Methuen)

RB/LB Spencer Riley (Lynnfield)

ATH Jason Romans (Bishop Fenwick)

OL/DL Peter Sleeper (Middlesex)

WR Jason Silverio (Methuen)

ATH Lucas Stallard (Newburyport)

OL/DL Cole Stickel (Westford)

OL Davenche Sydney (Tewksbury)

WR/LB Travis VanDinter (Lowell)

LB Kolten Williams (Central Catholic)

QB/DB Steven Woods (Bishop Fenwick)

*Unable to attend