After losing to its campus rival for the second straight Thanksgiving, the Madison Park football team must defeat a team that is coming off a Thanksgiving miracle if it wants to play in the Super Bowl.
Just five days after losing 6-0 to O’Bryant on Thanksgiving, the Cardinals (7-4) will play Bristol-Plymouth in the Division 4A semifinal game at 5:15 p.m. on Tuesday at Weymouth High.
Bristol-Plymouth advanced by taking out the all-mighty Vincent Burton and the Blue Hills Warriors 28-26 on Thanksgiving morning.
Burton led Eastern Massachusetts in scoring this fall with 35 touchdowns.
“I would like to face him, but it’s still going to be a challenge to face Bristol-Plymouth if they beat Vincent Burton,” Madison Park quarterback Hector Villar said. “It’s going to be fun.
“The main thing right now is to stay focused and play with MP pride. That’s what we have to do right now and if we do that we could play with anybody in any division basically.”
Bristol-Plymouth’s nail-biting win ended Blue Hills' two-year postseason streak and propelled the Craftsmen to their first visit to the postseason since 2009.
Longtime Madison Park coach Roosevelt Robinson is taking his team to the postseason for the first time since losing to Shawsheen Tech 21-0 two years ago. Robinson said while he would like to play the best in Burton and Blue Hills, he also always wants to face the team that won the chance to play in the postseason.
“You can have the best team and just not have the right formula,” Robinson said. “And it’s kids, emotionally our children, they have their days. When you have a player that exceeded his capability for that day he definitely got his rewards. That’s what it sounds like happened with Bristol-Plymouth, they came together and they believed and they performed well.”
Bristol-Plymouth (5-6) has won four of its last five games while Madison Park won four straight before losing to Boston City League South champion Dorchester 16-14 in the “unofficially city championship game” and losing to O’Bryant 6-0 on Thanksgiving for the second straight year.
“We just have to play tough, play hard, play with pride, that’s what we have to do,” Villar said. “We could go to a Super Bowl; that is what’s changed our attitude. We see what is in our grasp. It makes us more hungry; we just didn’t do what we had to do [against Dorchester and O’Bryant] so we have to do that [Tuesday].
“They are a tough team, we have to play our hardest; we have to play better than we played every game this season to beat them.”
Robinson said his team had too many penalties against Dorchester and O’Bryant.
“We’re going to keep working on our mistakes that we made and to improve them,” he said. “We played some good teams that willed their way and they played well and we didn’t play well.”
After Thanksgiving, there is no question Bristol-Plymouth knows how to will itself to victory. Bristol-Plymouth managed to beat Blue Hills despite Burton's 218 yards on 30 carries.
Beating Bristol-Plymouth on Tuesday could be Madison Park’s best chance to go to a Super Bowl for a while because a new playoff format is being adopted next season that will force teams to win more than one playoff game to qualify for the Super Bowl.
“They want to try things and some of us coaches are comfortable with the way things are now,” Robinson said. “That’s one thing, now you’re going to change it and we’re facing opponents that we know nothing about. That’s very challenging right now looking at what’s happening next year because we’re looking at something totally different.”
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