This Turkey Bowl was truly a fun game to see
Scott Knight knew exactly what Wednesday night’s Turkey Eve Bowl reminded him of.
He was watching a determined Nashua High School North team that wasn’t going to allow itself to be blown off the Motta Field turf at Stellos Stadium.
“I give them a lot of credit,” Knight, the South head coach, said of the Titans. “That was like playing, back in the day, BG (Bishop Guertin), when they would lay it on the line and just fly around. I thought (North’s) kids played really hard. I know they were shorthanded in some areas, but I thought their kids played really really hard and I thought we were a little bit cautious at times.”
Ah, Knight took us back to the old Nashua-Guertin Thanksgivings. It’s a North-South game now, but the way things have gone, the Titans have won key regular season matchups but the last four Thanksgiving Eves have belonged to South. Yes, ever since the game was moved to the night before Turkey Day.
And nobody was giving North much of a chance in this one. The 9-0 regular season had taken its toll, the roster was depleted due to injuries, etc., the most important one being to difference making QB Curtis Harris. North was as much of an underdog as the Cardinals were vs. the one Nashua High team back in the good old days.
And when South led 13-0 with two TDs thanks to North miscues in the first six minutes well, as Knight said, things looked like they could get ugly.
Ah, but the script is never followed on Turkey Eve or Turkey Day. North eventually evened things up early in the fourth quarter. It was 13-13, anybody’s game.
“That was huge for us, not giving up,” North receiver-turned QB Sam Nicholls said. “I felt (during the week) everybody was counting us out. I don’t think people expected us to come in here and put up 13 points. Even in the second half, with things tied, I don’t think anybody expected that. We just lost so many people.
“But everybody stepped up. We;ve had new guys step up, young guys step up, people who hadn’t even played their positions before step up and play that position. That was huge for us.”
How about Ed and Devin Bracetty, used as running backs? Or Nicholls, a receiver all year, now playing QB?
That’s why this is the Fun Game, right Dante Laurendi?
“We knew we needed to do something because of how shorthanded we were,” Laurendi said. “It was a great opportunity to do that both because we were shorthanded and also put other guys on the field that hadn’t played much and in different positions and they did a good job.”
Knight was chuckling after. He uses any extra time between the end of the regular and playoff season and this game — be it a week, two or even three – as his own version of “spring football”.
But they seemed confident they were ready for what the Titans might throw at them. Until they saw it.
“We hadn’t even used a tight end in practice,” Knight said. “And they were in double tights all night long. Empty (backfield). I didn’t know who was going to be the quarterback, but I thought they’d have the same style. … But we saw nothing today that we practiced for the last week and a half. But I thought the kids responded well.”
See, that’s the fun stuff. Knight made sure his seniors got their time – he liked this group – and the Panthers were pumped after Zakary Hureau, who seldom carries the ball, scampered 6 yards to paydirt to make it 13-0.
But we got ourelves a competitive game. Nicholls’ and other Titans’ resolve made this a fabulous game, tied 13-13 with just over 11 minutes to play.
“Then all of a sudden, then you start playing not to lose,” Knight said. “I felt we were playing not to lose. Then we got going, and took care of business when we had to.”
The lead businessman was sophomore Josh Compoh, the younger half of the Compoh brother tandem. Jason is the Panthers bread and butter guy, and he can sometimes take over a game. But Josh adds that slippery speed, and on a damp night like Wednesday, well, he slipped right through everyone for 166 yards. That will give everyone food for thought next season.
But the Titans also showed how resilient they can be. When Harris & Co. return next year, we’ll all have to watch out. These will be two good football teams.
“All year long we had done a real good job of competing,” Laurendi said. “Even late in the season with all the injuries, the kids continued to play hard, regardless of the score.
“And they just carried it over. I think our seniors just wanted to have fun. They went out and enjoyed the game.”
It’s the fun game. Even back to the Nashua-BG days, it always has been.
Tom King may be reached at 594-1251,email@example.com, or@Telegraph _TomK.