Footnotes from a day of Thanksgiving high school football

Danny boy Bridgewater-Raynham captains Mike Murano, Ryan Martin, and Devin Morris had company before the Trojans’ matchup with Brockton — 6-year-old Danny Keefe.

Keefe, who is the water boy for Bridgewater’s fifth-grade team, served as the honorary captain, capping an eventful week for the first-grader.

Last week, when the fifth-graders heard Keefe was being bullied for a speech impediment and wearing a suit every day, they organized “Danny Appreciation Day” at Williams Intermediate School — during which they all donned shirts and ties. The effort earned the group an appearance on the Channel 5 news.

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B-R coach Dan Buron caught wind of it, and the Trojans invited Keefe to be an honorary captain and join the team for warm-ups.

“I wanted to make a way to have [Keefe] feel loved, not to make him feel hurt,” said Tommy Cooney, the quarterback of the fifth-graders. “So I thought if I showed him that I think he’s cool, that I love him, and that I think he’s the best, I thought I’d wear a suit to dress just like him.”


D-Y band a champion

It has been a year of accolades for the Dennis-Yarmouth football team and its marching band. The D-Y band traveled to Bridgeport, Conn., on Oct. 26 to compete against some of the top marching bands in New England. Thanks to its impressive performance, D-Y not only won its division but also was named the US Bands New England Grand Champions.

Earlier in the year, the D-Y marching band was named state champions along with taking awards in best music, best effect, and best visual. The D-Y color guard also won best guard for the eighth straight year.


Flutie Award winners recognized

The Doug Flutie Award is the top honor presented by the Bay State Conference each year at Thanksgiving to one male and one female graduate of the league. The award recognizes athletes who possess qualities exemplified by Doug Flutie. The award is for performance in school, dedication, leadership, sportsmanship, and character.

For the third consecutive year, a Needham High alum won the award. Edward Connolly, a three-sport athlete at Needham, was presented the boys’ award at halftime.

Rachel Norton from Braintree was awarded the girls’ honors.

Both Norton and Connolly were Boston Globe Richard Phelps Scholar-Athletes last year.


Start of a new tradition

After Pope John XXIII and Minnechaug backed out of playing Bishop Fenwick on Thanksgiving, coach Dave Woods was left looking for a team to play.

Pingree, a prep school in the Evergreen League, had never played on Thanksgiving, but coach Chris Powers got a call from Woods during the season asking if they wanted to play. The Highlanders had used Fenwick’s field before and the two coaches knew each other, so Woods thought it could work.

“It was a great game,” Woods said. “Our kids loved it, their kids loved it, their coaching staff loved it, our coaching staff loved it, so we talked briefly after the game and hopefully the administration sees the value in keeping this game and we can build a nice tradition with Pingree and Fenwick. I think it’s a great matchup.”


For Thomas, one step at a time

The next time you see St. John’s Prep running back Johnathan Thomas, it’ll be with Penn State and the Nittany Lions.

But before he can take the field, the senior running back, who switched his commitment from Maryland, is working diligently to recover from a torn ACL and partially torn meniscus, which he suffered Sept. 28 in a loss to Everett.

“I’m in the process, and it’s time to get after it,” Thomas said. “I’m off the crutches. I can’t go extremely hard, and I have to do what the doctors tell me. But just being off crutches and being able to walk on the leg is building so much more muscle.”


Driving force

Prior to the start of the Natick-Framingham game, Vangie Sticka, whose name adorns the press box at Natick’s Memorial Field, belted out the Redhawks’ fight song. Sticka, a member of Natick High’s Class of 1946, is well-known for having been the bus driver for the football team’s road games for many years.


Veterans saluted in Foxborough

Officially, Veterans Day was celebrated Nov. 11.

But Mansfield and Foxboro initiated what they hope will become an annual tradition by inviting three veterans who played for their respective schools to serve as honorary captains for the Thanksgiving Day pregame coin toss, then watch the game with their families in a tent. The idea was concocted by the Mansfield Gridiron Club Board of Directors.

“A lot of the businesses are very generous to our team,” MGC Board member Rich Palanza said. “This year we wanted to do something to give back and we decided to do this for veterans.

“We want the players to understand the importance of active-service veterans.”

The honorary captains:

Mansfield — Matt Schaeffer, who’s in the Marines; John DuBeau, a Marine who saw action in Operation Desert Storm; and Korean War veteran Lenny Cooper (his grandson, John Cooper, plays for Mansfield).

Foxborough — George Eliopoulous, who’s on active duty with the Marines; Brian Johns, on active duty in the Army; and John Chamberlain, also on active duty with the Army.


Tigers’ No. 1 fan returns

Thanksgiving marked the return of a familiar face to Jack Welch Stadium in Ipswich. John Thomas was in the press box to watch the Tigers fall to Hamilton-Wenham, 21-2, a score the Class of ’67 graduate couldn’t have been happy about.

Thomas has been in a wheelchair since he was a child with an ailment that affects his joints and muscles. But when Ipswich built a new press box and made it handicap accessible, Thomas was back watching his beloved Tigers for the first time in close to eight years, according to athletic director Tom Gallagher.


Honor from Hull scout

As an athlete, he saw a problem. As a Boy Scout, he saw an opportunity to help others.

Hull junior Morgan Leeber has spent his fair share of time at the Pirates’ Finlayson Field as a lacrosse player. A multi-sport facility, Finlayson hosts practices and games for many of Hull’s sports teams. Because so many teams use the facility, Leeber noticed there was often confusion as to who was practicing when.

During halftime of Thursday’s Cohasset-Hull football game, Leeber unveiled his project: a display case outside Finlayson, where sports news and notes could be posted for the community to see. The project was dedicated in memory of Mike Powers, a lifelong resident of Hull who was involved in many of the town’s youth sports programs. Powers died in July 2010 at the age of 53 after a battle with multiple myeloma.


Change of heart in Lynnfield

Gathering Change, Inc., a nonprofit organization spawned in 2008 by Lynnfield native Dorothy Goodwin with the incentive to “help alleviate hunger” in Lynnfield, Wakefield, Reading, and other surrounding communities, was in full force at the 55th annual Lynnfield-North Reading game.

Dawning all orange T-shirts, members of the organization walked up and down the bleachers and across Kenney Field collecting donations. What started with just a jar placed at Lynnfield High by Goodwin five years ago has sprung into one of the Lynnfield community’s strongest advocate of support for the less fortunate. Since 2008, the GCI, an all-volunteer charitable organization, has contributed food or funds to more than 50 food pantries in Massachusetts.