The Winthrop High School football team was already officially an NEC champion but you just knew the players and coaches were seeking to make another big statement to end their memorable season.
So the stakes were high as the Vikings clung to a two-point lead with a few minutes to play. The prevailing thought must have been, to coin a famous quote: “We didn’t come this far to only come this far.”
And the result the Vikings wanted took every inch and every ounce of effort from every player. In the end, it was senior safety Ryan Hovermale who made the decisive defensive play, breaking up a Masconomet fourth-down pass and preserving an incredible 16-14 victory Saturday at Miller Field.
Add in another All-Scholastic-caliber performance from Bobby Hubert, the offensive leadership and big tackle-for-loss play on defense by All-Scholastic quarterback Duke Doherty, the Black Shirt-winning effort of the future pride of Amherst, Bryan Conceicao, and the unheralded play of the offensive line – and what you had was a celebration worthy of a 5-1, championship-winning campaign.
Winthrop Coach Jon Cadigan said the defense “got the job done” in the fourth quarter, notably defensive backs Chris Ferrara and Ryan Hovermale, who each broke up pivotal passes by Masco.
“Ryan timed that play perfectly,” said Cadigan. “He’s done a great job on both sides of the ball this season.”
Hubert was again a major contributor on offense, powering forth on 15 carries for 73 yards and it was he who scored the final eight points on a superb touchdown run and a two-point conversion.
Masco proved to be a formidable foe as expected. Coached by former Savio mentor Gavin Monagle, Masconomet was the reigning Cape Ann League Large champion before joining the Northeastern Conference this season. As recently as two years ago, Masco played Everett High tough in Thanksgiving games, one at Fenway Park.
Masco scored first and took a quick 7-0 lead. But Winthrop answered with a 90-yard drive, with Chris Ferrara scoring on a nifty 9-yard run. Doherty’s two-point conversion to basketball star-turned-football star Cam Conway gave Winthrop an 8-7 lead.
Masco carried momentum into the half with a late score, but Hubert put Winthrop ahead, 16-14, before a dramatic fourth quarter of play ensued.
Late in the fourth quarter, Doherty attemped a pass for what would have been the game-sealing fourth down. But Masco held and Jonathan Cadigan and defensive coordinator James Fucillo had put the game in the hands of their defense.
And the defensive delivered, stopping Masco’s attempts to score the go-ahead touchdown. “I’m extremely happy for the seniors – they were a great group of kids in the four years,” said Cadigan. “To cap it off with a conference championship and winning your last game at home is pretty special.”