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Coppola’s call inspires his St. John’s Prep teammates

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Globe Staff / November 26, 2010

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Though he uses a wheelchair these days, Jared Coppola had a huge impact on yesterday’s St. John’s Prep-Xaverian game.

According to Prep coach Jim O’Leary, one of the turning points of his team’s Catholic Conference-clinching victory came at the outset of the second half. Leading the favored Hawks, 7-5, the Eagles received the kickoff and drove 78 yards, scoring on a 23-yard run by Tyler Coppola, Jared’s brother.

The moment couldn’t have taken place had Jared Coppola not shouted “Tails!’’ as Prep’s representative for the opening coin toss. After Prep won the toss, Jared informed the referee the Eagles wanted to defer.

With the aid of a walker, Jared was able to rise from his wheelchair and walk to midfield for the toss, an inspiring sight after he was paralyzed over much of his body in September 2009 while playing for St. John’s Prep.

Tyler Coppola was the catalyst in the Eagles’ 21-12 win yesterday, running for 215 yards and scoring a pair of touchdowns.

“When I take a big hit and feel some pain, I just think about what he went through and I keep on playing,’’ Tyler said.

For his perseverance and courage throughout the season, O’Leary awarded Jared Coppola the game ball.

“I’m glad [Tyler] ran hard and that the whole team stepped it up today and played big,’’ Jared said. “Just to realize that my hard work paid off and let everyone know how far I’ve come since I got hurt was great.’’

MIKE CARRAGGI

Retiring No. 36 No one at Lexington will be able to wear No. 36 again. That number, currently worn by junior Ronald Beaulieu, will be retired to commemorate the 36 years coach Bill Tighe spent at the Lexington helm. It is the first number Lexington has retired.

MICHAEL GROSSI

Unsung heroes Everett presented two players with its Unsung Hero Award, for those who don’t usually get the headlines. The offensive award went to center Nick Chiarello, and lineman Shaquille Taylor earned the award on defense. Coach John DiBiaso said the holiday was a good occasion to honor such contributions, saying, “This is a good opportunity to be thankful for them — on Thanksgiving.’’

BRADEN CAMPBELL

Methuen honors Methuen cheerleader Tabitha Houle, who was honored along with the other seniors participating in the 48th rivalry game against Dracut, chose to wear the jersey — No. 14 — of her late uncle Michael Jozokos, who starred at Methuen in the early 1980s. She was accompanied by her grandfather, Joe Jozokos . . . With its 19-12 win over Methuen, Dracut took possession of the Methuen Jaycees Memorial Trophy, but Methuen still holds a 25-20-3 edge in the series, which began in 1963.

DAN HICKLING

Happy 90th Brockton resident Ed Leonard, who was born and bred in the City of Champions and sat on its City Council for six years, was recognized at halftime of Brockton’s game against Bridgewater-Raynham. Leonard turned 90 years old yesterday.

PATRICK McHUGH

Happy 18th Dylan Colarusso celebrated his 18th birthday yesterday with what he called the best present he could ask for. In a 21-6 win over Walpole, the Weymouth senior rushed for 141 yards on 38 carries and scored two touchdowns . . . Maddie Manning sang “God Bless America’’ between the first and second quarters at the Weymouth-Walpole game. She was accompanied on the field by three Weymouth seniors who have completed basic training and will become active in the Army upon graduation.

EMILY WRIGHT

Honoring Allen Before Pope John’s game against Lowell Catholic, a moment of silence was held to honor Rick Allen, a member of the class of 1975 who died in March at the age of 53. Allen was a three-sport captain his senior year and is a member of the school’s Hall of Fame.

LORENZO RECUPERO

Thanks for committee work Bob Henrique didn’t hesitate when asked what the consequences would have been, were it not for the Dighton Middle School Sports and Activities Committee. “We would have eliminated after-school activities and sports at the middle school,’’ said Henrique said. At yesterday’s Seekonk/Dighton-Rehoboth game, the committee was raffling tickets for Celtics games. “It costs between $30,000 and $35,000 a year to run after-school activities and athletics throughout the Dighton Middle School,’’ said Henrique. “This is the second year it’s been eliminated from the budget. By the fund-raising last year, we were able to provide sports and after-school activities, in addition to having user fees. Now, we’re doing it again this year.’’

MIKE SCANDURA

English building for future After a loss in the 124th meeting with Boston Latin, Boston English coach Chris Boswell talked about the efforts he and his staff are making to build up the program and his players. “We have to keep investing in them and let them know that we are here for them and that they do have a bright future,’’ said Boswell. “I took a few guys up to UNH to watch a kid I used to coach. I took them to the ISL finals last week, and they were blown away. They loved it. They were asking questions and really getting into it. There’s more than just what they see every day in the city. At practice every day, we hear police sirens. We want to expose them to what’s out there for them, and I know we can.’’

CRAIG FORDE

The century markA committee gathered in July to make sure that yesterday’s 100th matchup between Whitman-Hanson and Abington would be commemorated in style.

“We wanted to make sure everyone was recognized properly, from the officials to the cheerleaders to the honorary captains,’’ said Whitman-Hanson athletic director James Daley.

The celebration was important to both communities, and Daley said Whitman-Hanson wanted to share in the planning with its “neighbors across the way.’’

Abington won yesterday’s game, 33-12, but Whitman-Hanson still leads the series, 56-41-3. Alumni from both teams were recognized on the field before kickoff. From the special-edition tickets to the commemorative coins and pins to the specialty T-shirts, there was no missing the hometown pride for this game.

“All of this celebration was sponsored by local businesses in the area,’’ said Daly.

In addition, all the players and their families joined last Friday for a feast to show how important the rivalry is to them.

LIZ COHEN