Between the bounce houses, the long lines to get into Memorial Field and the television news crew, the season opener was in full, primetime effect for the football team on Friday night.
C-C put on quite a show between the lines as well, taking its matchup of 2010 MIAA Super Bowl contenders against Beverly High School. The Patriots, the runners up for Division 2A, defeated the Panthers, Division 3’s champion from a year ago, 26-7 to open the fall campaign.
“Obviously it was a big win for us,” Concord-Carlisle Coach Mike Robichaud said. “It didn’t come easy. There may have been an expectation that things may have gone a lot more smoothly.”
Following a slow start, the Patriots ran away from Beverly on the legs of senior George Craan and juniors Tim Badgley and Evan Boynton. Each was responsible for big plays that dealt crushing blows to the Panthers, who were hanging with C-C until the home team began clicking after some early rust.
First it was Boynton, whose 51-yard run around the left edge opened the season for the C-C offense on its first drive. Badgley would score on a 7-yard run three plays later.
Then, to start the second half, it was Badgley’s turn to ignite the Patriots. He took the opening handoff of the third quarter off-tackle to the right side, cut back across the field and scampered 53 yards before the Panthers finally hauled him down at the Beverly 10-yard line.
“We just really can’t give up big plays like that, defensively,” Panthers Coach Dan Bauer said. “When they popped off that big play to start the half, that just killed us. I don’t think we ever recovered from that play.”
This time Craan played the closer, as he covered the final 10 yards to the end zone in two plays. Following a missed extra point, that made it 13-7 Patriots with 10 minutes, 4 seconds remaining in the third quarter.
On the Patriots’ next possession it was once again the combination of Badgley and Craan that led the way. Badgley picked up another 63 yards on first-and-10 from C-C’s 32-yard line, and Craan finished the drive with a 5-yard run.
Still, the Patriots’ three-headed rushing attack wasn’t quite done. C-C’s next drive started at its own 45. Nine plays later — including seven rushes, five by Craan and one apiece for Boynton and Badgley — the Patriots were back in the end zone.
Craan scored his third of the game on the first play of the fourth quarter. The two-point attempt failed, making for the 26-7 final score.
Despite the win, Robichaud acknowledged there is still much C-C can work on moving forward.
“From an offensive standpoint, we really went away from some things that were working for us,” Robichaud said. “We never got in a rhythm. Our possessions were either we scored pretty quickly, or frankly, they stuffed us and we were out.”
Beverly moved the ball well against the Patriots’ defense in the first half, with a touchdown on its second possession of the game. The drive began on the Beverly 29 and lasted 10 plays.
The rushing attack of juniors Kenny Pierce and Brendan Flaherty carried the load with a combined eight carries on the drive. But the Panthers’ lone scoring play of the game was a pass from junior quarterback Dave Rollins to Flaherty that went for 14 yards.
However, the Panthers had the ball six more times the rest of the game and punted four times and turned the ball over on downs twice more, including the last possession of the game.
“They had a lot of stuff they ran tonight, it was not vanilla stuff,” Robichaud said. “They had some stuff out of the spread, they were running the misdirection game and tight end sets.”
The Patriots will remain home next Friday to take on Lexington High School, a Division 2 opponent.