Cohasset- A salute to the Skippers
I have covered football at every level. There are too many Patriots games to count. I enjoyed covering Boston College especially because it’s my alma mater. Every Thanksgiving for over 20 years I was assigned a high school game with either a long tradition or a Super Bowl appearance on the line.
As a reporter, my job is to stay unbiased. “No cheering in the press box” was frequently announced before games.
With that said, I write this story as a fan, a mother, and a resident of small town America. Over the last four years I have sat in the aluminum stands of Alumni Field in Cohasset on many a fall Friday night. My daughter is a cheerleader. They practice and compete just like the football team, and as a parent I considered it my duty to show up and support both squads- the one on the field, and the one on the sidelines.
Watching the high school game took some getting used to. Where was the replay? In the press box there are dozens of televisions that show the play immediately after it happens. As a pro or big time college fan, there is always the Jumbotron. In high school, you better see it right the first time, because there are no cameras recording every play from ten different angles. I found myself constantly looking at the scoreboard thinking it would show the play again.
A few years ago, I became addicted to the television series “Friday Night Lights.” I watched every episode on Netflix in a matter of weeks. Little did I know that I had Friday Night Lights right down the street.
Like Coach Taylor in the TV series, Cohasset has Coach “A,” which is short for Afanasiw. Coach A also teaches history, my daughter reported to me one day as a freshman.
“You mean he has to coach and teach too?” I asked her. Her response was a huge eyeball roll, which any parent with teenagers will understand.
Watching “Friday Night Lights” religiously, I thought how nice it must be to play high school football in Texas. I have learned since that it’s also great here in New England. Coach “A”, like Coach Taylor, could yell, scream, and motivate players like football was the only thing that mattered. A minute later he would be giving a player a hug with the tenderness of a father. It’s how boys become men.
The Skippers had a great year. A school that averages around 100 students in each grade is minuscule compared to Everett, BC High, or Newton North. Even though they are Division 6, they play big. Because the school is so small, many of the players are involved in multiple sports and get to know each other like family. Coach A credits this special bonding as a key to their success.
Say what you will about the new playoff system- I think it’s great. The top seeded Skippers played three games to get to the Super Bowl, and it was a fun ride. Millis-Hopedale gave them a run for their money on their home field. A trip to a neutral site in Brockton was the stage for an epic battle with Saint Clement. The Anchormen of St. Clement, Sommerville had a roster of 37. Cohasset’s football roster is 67, including 20 seniors.
Through it all I learned to appreciate the skill and confidence of high school players. Quarterback Chris Haggerty was rock solid, composed and accurate. Running back Cole Kissick kept the offense motor running. The two way player is such an anomoly in the pro and college game. It’s standard fare in high school. I remember when Troy Brown managed it as a Patriot, and it was huge.
The Cohasset Skippers walked into Gillette Stadium early Saturday morning. Their match-up with Littleton was first on the slate of six Super Bowl championships to be played. Kick-off was 9:00am- not exactly primetime for the teenage body.
For the first time in history, the smaller divisions got to play at the the big house. For most of the players and cheerleaders, it will never get bigger or better than this.
But it was not to be for Cohasset. Littleton’s offense was close to unstoppable. Final score 52-35.
I hope these young men know how fun they made it for us. How we so enjoyed watching them compete. All those practices, all those pasta dinners, all those wins, and all those friendships will be part of some great high school memories.
Football player ,coach, cheerleader, or parent, we learn to close a chapter.
Thank you Cohasset for giving us a great year. It was so much fun to go from reporter to fan. Cheering is a good thing. And we – and the cheerleaders – had lots to cheer about.