READING — For any coach with a Super Bowl next week, there’s a choice to make on Thanksgiving: play the starters for the rivalry game or rest them for the shot at a state title. It’s a tough choice for some, but not Stoneham coach Bob Almeida.
The Division 6 Super Bowl-bound Spartans played their starters and rode them to victory, 30-22, over host Reading in the schools’ 87th annual meeting.
“For anybody who wants to sit on Thanksgiving and not play their rival, I think it’s a mistake,” Almeida said. “I think it’s going to be better for us that we played those guys and battled.”
Reading leads the all-time series, 64-19-4, but the Spartans have won four of the last six.
The victory was keyed by a long, grinding fourth-quarter drive that ran the clock down from the 10-minute mark — after Reading (9-2) had cut the deficit to 2 — all the way to 2:17. With Stoneham running its double wing offense, it used misdirection, motion, and powerful runs to march down the field a few yards at a time.
Senior running back Colin Farren punched in the touchdown for the Spartans (10-1) from 7 yards out for his second score of the day. Even though Reading stopped the 2-point try, it still meant the most the Rockets could do was tie it.
“We take time off the clock, but we’re also getting downfield at the same time,” Farren said. “Drives like that, that’s why our offense is so good.”
Farren also came up big for Stoneham early in the fourth. After Reading marched down the field and scored on a James Murphy 1-yard rush, Farren snuffed out a screen pass and stopped the Rockets on their 2-point attempt.
“They just told me to go out there for that play,” Farren said. “I heard ‘screen,’ and I saw the kid take a step back and I ran up and made the tackle.”
Murphy threw for two scores and ran for one, while Spartans quarterback James Nutting ran for two touchdowns and threw a 35-yard pass to Farren halfway through the third quarter, a score that put the Spartans up for good.