CANTON - Both coaches knew before the season that they were calling it quits when it ended, but yesterday was the end of the road for just one.
Blue Hills defeated Bristol-Plymouth, 30-0, giving the Warriors the outright Mayflower Large title. Coach Vin Hickey, in his 34th year with the Warriors, will continue his final season Tuesday against East Boston in the Division 3A playoffs, while Bill Moan, in his 27th year, directed the Craftsmen for the last time.
"It's horrible to go out like this," Moan said. "This is probably the least competitive game we've had with these guys in 30 years."
While Moan ended his career on a sour note, the Warriors (9-2, 4-1) played perhaps their best game all year, dominating a Craftsmen team (5-5, 0-5) that had stayed close with each Mayflower Large opponent.
"Last game of the season, I ask the kids to leave everything on the field," Hickey said. "And I told them I'm leaving my heart and soul down here, heart for the love of the game of football and for the coaches and kids and the spirit of being a Warrior."
The Warriors won the game, Hickey's last on his home field, behind the running of Jerry Nelson. Nelson put the game away with four touchdown runs in the first half, totaling 109 yards on 17 carries. His most impressive carry came with 33 seconds left when he ran into two defenders after 5 yards but kept his legs churning, scampering up the middle for a 38-yard score that made it 30-0.
"The Nelson kid is a very, very good running back," Moan said. "He was a real handful for us today. Their line blocked well and we just didn't have an answer for him."
Nelson, who has struggled with an ankle injury all year, appeared in top form, pounding through the line on power runs off both tackles. The senior sat out the second half.
"[My ankle] feels perfect," Nelson said. "We were just so pumped up; we knew it was our last time on our home field and it was coach's last time coaching on this field. We played 200 percent. We came to hit."
Nelson doled out the punishment on offense, bruising a B-P defense that had given up more than two touchdowns in a game just once.
But the Blue Hills defense did plenty of hitting, too, limiting the Craftsmen to 16 yards of offense in the first half and recovering two fumbles, the second of which set up Nelson's 38-yard rush.
But the offense did the defense plenty of favors as well, as the rushing game controlled the clock and kept Bristol-Plymouth's offense off the field. The Warriors' opening drive lasted 7 1/2 minutes before Nelson punched the ball into the end zone from 1 yard out. Nelson also had touchdown runs of 13 and 4 yards.
It was the first time the teams played each other on Thanksgiving. The fact that the two coaches are retiring was merely a coincidence, but one that both were glad to share.
"I have the utmost respect [for Moan]," Hickey said. "I consider him like a brother."
While Moan's career ended in Canton, Hickey has higher goals for his final game.
"I'd love to go to Gillette Stadium and end my career there," he said.