High schools


Rocky Nelson goes out a winner at Woburn

11-24-2106: Woburn, MA: Retiring Woburn High School football coach Rocky Nelson celebrates with his team after winning Thanksgiving Day game against Winchester HS at Woburn HS in Woburn, Mass. Nov. 24 2016. Photo/ John Blanding, Boston Globe staff story/ , Sports ( 25woburn )
John Blanding/Globe Staff
Rocky Nelson got a win in his last outing as Woburn’s coach.

Thanksgiving Day scoreboard.

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.

“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.

Get Varsity News in your inbox:
Your weekly look at the top high school sports stories.
Thank you for signing up! Sign up for more newsletters here

“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.

Rocky Nelson with his grandsons Dylan Sigsbury (left) and Quinn Boyd during pregame a pregame ceremony.
John Blanding/Globe Staff
Rocky Nelson with his grandsons Dylan Sigsbury (left) and Quinn Boyd during pregame a pregame ceremony.