After revealing our All-Time All-Scholastic football team earlier this week, we asked readers to share their own memories of playing (or watching others play) football in high school.
We received feedback from dozens of people reminiscing on Massachusetts’ football heritage.
Below is a collection of responses that have been edited and condensed for clarity:
“I played football for Milton high school from 1973 through 1975. I was one of the co-captains in 1975. I was lucky enough to be voted to a couple of all-star teams and played in the Harry Agganis football game...The highlight of my high school football years was beating Natick, who went on to play and win the Super Bowl that year. In my senior year, my highlight was playing and beating Braintree, our arch rival, in our 1975 Thanksgiving day game. I remember the day very clearly, even though it was almost 50 years ago. The field was frozen solid. It was ice. The conditions were really bad. I played every minute of the game, including offense, defense, and special teams. I never came off the field except for half time. It was a slugfest. The game was very close. We beat Braintree, the Wamps, as they were referred to back then. I remember Thanksgiving dinner afterwards with my family. Thanksgiving has always been a very special time for me as a result of these memories. I can still taste high school football every fall.”-Rod Langevin Rochester, Milton High School ‘76
“What stands out 25 years later are many moments from Thanksgiving week 1998 (my senior season). The bus ride over to Alumni Stadium at BC for the Thanksgiving week practice on the turf (a rare thing in ‘98). Suiting up in the BC locker room. Making the tackle on my last ever play. Listening to the radio to get an update on the St John’s vs. Xaverian game. Celebrating the late field goal to secure the win (Nice kick, Skip!). And most of all, opening the door to my childhood home, packed to capacity with my family all home for the day with the sound of NFL games in the background and smell of Thanksgiving Dinner heavy in the air.”-Matt Hart, Boston College High School ‘99
“I played for two high school teams (Bedford, Chelmsford). The biggest lesson I took away from high school football would be that you should never underestimate the drive and will to win of your opponent. Sophomore (1984) year we lost to an 0-9 Concord Carlisle team on Thanksgiving at home. Junior year we were heavily favored against Billerica and lost to them in a snowstorm. Will and drive can win the day if you have enough of it.”- Keith Tassinari, Chelmsford High School ‘87
“It was the 1992 Island Cup between Martha’s Vineyard at Nantucket. Both teams entered the game at 10-1 with the winner of this game moving on to their respective Super Bowl. Martha’s Vineyard won its first Super Bowl in 1991 and was looking to repeat. Martha’s Vineyard found themselves behind 12-0 with just 4:41 left to play. The Vineyard would make a historic comeback and win 14-12, marking the first time in 20 years that Martha’s Vineyard had won on Nantucket. As the Vineyard was loading the bus to head back to the boat for its victorious return home, Dennis Caron, Jr. senior quarterback for Nantucket, walked onto the bus and asked if he could address the Vineyard football team. The bus became silent as Dennis Caron, with tears in his eyes, congratulated the Martha’s Vineyard football team on the win and wished us good luck in the Super Bowl. Being the Vineyard’s head coach, I was shocked and impressed by the actions and words from this senior athlete from Nantucket. That still remains the classiest move I ever witnessed in all my years involved with high school football.”-Donald Herman, Head football coach at Martha’s Vineyard Regional High school from 1988-2015 and 2018-2021
“When I was around 10 years old, I lived in Dorchester though we would often visit our cousins in Randolph. We would drive on Saturdays to watch our cousin Lindy Hess play. The whole town was lit up over the undefeated high school football team. As we drove along North Main St., we saw the fans streaming towards the center of town by the high school. The atmosphere inside the field was electric: the band, bleachers and opposing team’s fans all amped up. Lindy was amazing creating plays that were jaw dropping, like Orr, Flutie or Bird. Everybody loved it!”-Ted Sullivan, Randolph High School ‘77
“It was November 22, 1990, and I was playing in my final high school football game for North Andover High. On that day, I woke up to the mouth-watering aroma of a turkey in the oven, that my mother had started cooking in the wee hours of the morning. I could hardly contain my excitement as the day I had been looking forward to for years had finally arrived...I can vividly recall hearing my friend Pistol Pete, honking the horn on his 1978 Ford Mustang, signaling it was time to head to the locker room. It was a great day, not just because we ended up winning, but also because I have fond memories of returning home to my brothers and sisters, catching up on the outcomes of other big games in the Merrimack Valley like Lawrence vs. Lowell and Andover vs. Central Catholic. In those days, before the internet, cell phones, and Twitter, information traveled through a Zenith radio on top of our fridge, and my dad would eagerly tune in to WCCM 800 AM Lawrence, waiting for Frankie Benjamin to announce the scores as they came in. Thanksgiving has always been my favorite family holiday, and it always will be. Even now, the smell of a turkey cooking in the oven takes me back to that special day in 1990. High school football on Thanksgiving is more than just a game; it is a unique Massachusetts tradition that brings families together and creates lasting memories.”-Zeb Gilligan, North Andover High School ‘91
“Personal memories include four varsity years at Malden Catholic and forming lifetime friendships with several guys, including my best friend. The football experience has remained vivid long after all many high school moments faded.”-Jim Jordan, Malden Catholic High School ‘72