HB football players to lead New Hampshire Shrine team

In a matter of weeks, they will bolt in different directions and start new lives. But for one last week, they are football teammates, friends in battle and, yes, even captains once again.

“I’m not going to be playing football in college. When I was selected for this, I thought to myself that it was a pretty good way to go out, playing in my last football game,” said recent Hollis Brookline grad Garrett Moloney. “To be named co-captain is just an honor. I was beside myself when I found out.”

Moloney and former Cavaliers co-captain Matt Simco, teammates for so long and four-year stalwarts in Chris Lones’ HB program, have been granted the chance to be captains for the New Hampshire squad in the 65th Shrine Maple Sugar Bowl Game, which takes place Saturday evening, 5:30 p.m., at Castleton University in Vermont.

Simco will leave for Wesleyan University later this month where the wide receiver should be a dynamic receiver in the NESCAC. Moloney is headed to Bryant University, where he may pursue competing in either lacrosse, rugby or both.

But for one last week up in Vermont, it’s been all about football and a sense of community and giving, one that neither is about to forget.

Simco, since learning about this game and being selected, has been all about the Shrine Game and supporting the children in the hospitals.

There were other offers, but the three-sport superstar (basketball, volleyball) never even contemplated wavering.

“I already had the commitment to the Shrine Game, and this is for a great cause,” said the two-sport Telegraph All-Star. “It was more important to me to stick to my commitment. I was just so excited about it.”

Simco got serious on the fund-raising trail, netting over $2,600 for the Shriners Hospitals, the top fund-raiser on either team this summer.

“I put it out there on a lot of social media, and my family was really excited to help out,” he noted.

Simco hit the ground running in Vermont, too.

“This is really my last high school experience,” said the 6-foot-4, 205-pounder, who is rarely seen without a smile on his face.

“I just love just hanging out with the guys. We’ve had a lot of good times and it’s nice to compete and get out there.”

In typical Simco fashion, the three-day practices just aren’t enough.

“It’s a grind, but the two quarterbacks, Mike McAlister (Londonderry) and Matt Harkins (Bow) have been great,” the receiver said. “I’ve been working with them every day after practices. It’s been a really good week.”

Apparently, folks are noticing, too. Former rival and current teammate Owen Clary of Milford was amazed at what he’s seen out of Simco.

“He’s got some hands,” said Clary.

“I don’t thing he’s dropped a ball all week.”

Simco has managed to have a little off-field fun, too.

He and Moloney were heavy favorites in the midweek “cornhole” tournament, noting, “that’s the real trophy I’m here for.”

Following the game, Simco will get back to his summer job in shipping/receiving at Foundation Armor before heading down to Wesleyan and a new challenge. With the Cardinals, he’ll be teammates with a childhood pal and Hollis native Daniel Smith, who played his high school quarterback at Lowell (Mass.) High.

“It’ great, we’ve been throwing together all summer,” said Simco.

At Wesleyan, he’s also hoping there might an opportunity to meet one of its more famous alums, albeit one who played lacrosse not football, one Bill Belichick of the New England Patriots.

“Wouldn’t that be amazing,” Simco

marveled.

For Moloney, every second in Vermont has been savored, the last time he’ll wear shoulder pads and a helmet in the fall.

“I love it. We left home at six on Sunday morning, and there was nothing better than coming here and driving in,” said Moloney. “You see all these guys, checking in just like you, getting pads and stuff. Everyone has that same look. You know, the look that says, ‘I can’t wait to get out there and hit someone.’ We had two practices that day and got right into it.”

Moloney is clearly a self-made man. Finishing up high school and playing sports, he also worked as a finish carpenter. The man can handle a hammer, just like he can opposing linemen.

“I’ve been pretty busy with work, especially this summer,” said Moloney, a 6-foot-3, 250-pounder. “It started as a hobby. I’ve always been into it, doing a lot of woodworking on my own.”

Moloney wasn’t really surprised that he and Simco again found themselves as captains. Leading has always come naturally.

“I think it runs in our blood,” he said. “Growing up in Hollis and Brookline, a few people have always stepped up and got things moving in sports. We’ve been playing together a long time, and that builds confidence. Once you have it, you just share it with your teammates.”

The talent is solid with team New Hampshire this week, he says. It’s easy to see once the athletes step on the field.

“We’ve been having great practices. Playing with all these guys at such a high level, it’s amazing what you can get done in one practice,” he said. “It’s really been cool, being able to be buddies with people I’ve gone against so long. Getting to be teammates with them, getting to know all these guys, all in the right place, doing the right thing. It’s been incredible.”

Of course, there is still a game to be played. And while New Hampshire holds a substantial 47-15-2 lead in the series, Vermont has won the last two meetings. New Hampshire hasn’t scored a TD in the game since 2015.

“I think we’re going to be OK,” said Moloney. “We’re working hard at it. And we’ll be ready.”