They were Gloucester kids, one who stayed in town and won three Super Bowls with the Fishermen, the other going off to the Pingree School in South Hamilton to get involved with its start-up football program.
Gloucester High made four straight trips to Gillette Stadium. “It was like a home game for us,’’ recalled Gil Brown, who played on offense and defense.
Pat George passed on Gloucester High to attend Pingree, partly because his dad worked at the school ice rink. “I liked the academics there too,’’ said George.
“I knew Pat from around town,’’ said Brown, but they never got to really bond until they became teammates at Bates College.
The pair wrapped up the college season Saturday afternoon on a high note: a 47-33 win over NESCAC foe Hamilton. George, a senior dive back in the triple option, ran for 144 yards on 15 carries; Brown, a sophomore outside linebacker, registered 12 tackles and returned an interception 101 yards as the 5-3 Bobcats completed their best season since 1981. Bates was 3-5 last season.
“Hamilton was driving; they got to our 1- or 2-yard line,’’ Brown said of his pick-6.
“I just stepped in front of the receiver and ran down the sideline. I got a block and that's all I needed. It was open field after that. I remember getting to midfield and thinking, I've still got 50 more yards to go.’’ He was named the Defensive Player of the Week in the NESCAC.
Playing every game of his career, the 5-foot-10, 205-pound George was the Bobcats’ leading rusher for four years.
“He had his biggest career game Saturday,’’ said head coach Mark Harriman.
A measure of what George has meant to Bates is illustrated by his captaincy. He's the only captain among 70 players. “It was a unanimous vote,’’ said Harriman, who first noticed George at the New England Elite Camp at Bentley University.
“I was really honored to be captain,’’ said George. “It meant I earned the respect of all my teammates. I guess they noticed the hard work I put in.’’
“Everything Pat does, he does 100 miles per hour,’’ said Harriman. “He's one of our top scholar-athletes.’’
Brown said George was “a great captain.”
Harriman, the defensive coordinator at Harvard for four seasons before moving to Bates 14 years ago, calls Brown “just a pure athlete, a total football player. He returns punts and kicks. We could put him at any position.
“We blitzed Gil off the edge a lot. He’d scoot around blocks and make plays.’’
Brown finished the season with 50 tackles, 37 solos. George averaged 5.2 yards on 105 carries and 22.5 yards on kick returns. He had a three-touchdown game against Bowdoin last season.
Both players, according to Harriman, were a “big part” of the Bobcats’ signature season.
George played Pop Warner until he was 8 but didn’t reconnect with the sport until he was 14.
“When I got bigger, my parents were more willing to let me play,” he said. “I loved it. I’m a physical guy. They put me in the defensive line. I like getting after the quarterback, but I always wanted to run with the ball.’’
On Pingree’s inaugural team, George was a running back and middle linebacker. Success was incremental for the program.
In his final season, Pingree went 6-3 in the Evergreen League. “It was a great experience being part of building a program,” said George, who was a senior captain.
Brown began playing as a 9-year-old Pop Warner tight end. “I was tall and lanky, but not very coordinated. They threw me the ball a couple of times.’’
He played baseball and ran track at Gloucester High and made the varsity football squad as a freshman, starting with special teams and gradually working into the backfield.
He scored a touchdown against Peabody. By his junior year, the 6-foot, 195-pound Brown was a two-way starter.
“On defense you can be an impact player,” he said. “Hard hits set a tone." His late-game interception against Masconomet saved the game in his junior year.
The only close game Gloucester had in Brown’s senior year was against Lynn Classical. “We won, 14-7. It was a team effort, a very emotional game.’’
Brown opened some eyes at the Boston College football camp.
Bates assistant Duncan Averill was watching. “He said, ‘I’d love to have you at outside linebacker,’ ‘’ said Brown, who also considered Dartmouth, Brown, Endicott, and Wagner. He’s a physics and history major.
Bates was an easy choice. “The coaches were honest with me, about where I was as a football player,” he said. “They saw I could play right away.
“After the losing seasons, this season meant a lot. The coaches deserve it more than anyone.’’
Gil Brown has two seasons left. In the meantime, the Bobcat coaches will be scouring Gloucester by the sea for a few more big fish to suit up.
Lenny Megliola can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org