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In the NFL, balancing technology with tradition.
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Welcome to the Extra Point, where members of the NFL's football data and analytics team will share updates on league-wide trends in football data, interesting visualizations that showcase innovative ways to use the league's data, and provide an inside look at how the NFL uses data-driven insight to improve and monitor player and team performance.
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By John Ingoldsby
BOSTON – High school football and Thanksgiving have gone together like turkey and stuffing for more than a century in New England, but this year featured a new flavor with games in fabled Fenway Park.
With the baseball cathedral already transformed for the Boston College–Notre Dame game the weekend before Thanksgiving, eight Boston-area high schools spiced up their traditional rivalry games by playing four games in two days on the sacred sod.
More than 30,000 fans filled the stands from home plate to the right field foul pole for the first high school football games at Fenway since 1935.
The games kicked off on the day before Thanksgiving when Xaverian faced St. John’s Prep and Boston College High squared off against Catholic Memorial.
“The experience was awesome, and will be a memory for the rest of my life,” said Xaverian’s Coby Tippett, the son of NFL Hall of Famer and former New England Patriot Andre Tippett. “It’s not often we get to do something like this,” said Tippett in summing up the experience of playing in the shadow of the Green Monster.
“To know the history here and then dress in the Red Sox locker room looking at David Ortiz’s locker was unbelievable,” stated Catholic Memorial’s Frank Cosolito. “I’ll never forget playing here for the rest of my life.”
Nor will Isaiah Morinda, who said after his Boston College High School team beat CM, “It was life-changing event when put in the historic light, and I just embraced it, even though I had some butterflies.”
Then the next morning under a bright Thanksgiving Day sun, Wellesley and Needham met in the oldest public high school rivalry in America, first played 127 years ago.
“It was an amazing experience, giving us memories forever and I won’t ever forget it,” said Wellesley Quarterback Jake Mohan following his team’s 12-7 loss.
For Needham’s Kevin Bruce it was equally meaningful.
“It’s crazy because ever since I was a little kid I always dreamed of being able to play here, so I took a moment during the game and just checked out how many people were here, and it was just ridiculous. I’m so thankful for this opportunity.”
Finally, Boston English and Boston Latin renewed the oldest continuous high school football rivalry in the country. The two schools have played every year since 1887.
After Latin’s 28-6 win, players took pictures with teammates and family on the venerable field to preserve the historic moment. For some, it will be the last football game they will ever play.
Legendary Xaverian Coach Charlie Stevenson put in perspective after they beat St. John’s Prep Wednesday night. “It was unbelievable to have the first high school victory on this field in 85 years.”