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Massachusetts eighth-graders storm their way to Football University semifinals

Posted by Liam O'Kennedy  December 26, 2012 07:00 PM

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A team of Massachusetts eighth-graders has flattened its East Coast opponents in the preliminary rounds of the Football University National Championship, and is one of four squads still standing in the elite, 64-team national tournament.

Team Massachusetts outscored New Hampshire, Connecticut-North, Connecticut-South and Maryland 133-12 to earn a semifinal matchup against North Georgia Jan. 4 at the 11,000-seat Heroes Stadium in San Antonio, Texas.

But the steep cost of flights and accommodations for all 35 players and the team's nine coaches - about $40,000 - has sent everyone involved with the team into a flurry of last-second fundraising. 

"We have a goal, and that's to win the national championship, so we're there one way or the other," said PJ Vande Rydt, the team's director. "But we want to alleviate some of the pressure on parents who have offered to pay for kids who can't afford the trip."

Carrie Reid and Kim McNeil, a duo of "team moms" from Marshfield, have been working with Team Massachusetts players, coaches and fellow parents since late December to raise as much of the $40,000 goal as possible before Jan. 4. 

"We just kept winning," said Reid, whose 14-year-old son, Richard, plays linebacker and was invited to try out for the elite squad in June. "We didn't even know we were going to Texas until after we beat Maryland in Ohio on Dec. 9."

For the past two weeks, the fundraising efforts have been frequent and dynamic. Players collected $3,100 outside Gillette Stadium Dec. 16 when the Patriots took on the San Francisco 49ers. A Team Massachusetts PayPal account has brought in $7,300. Private corporations have chipped in $4,200. And across the state, outside police stations and liquor stores and supermarkets, members of Team Massachusetts have been collecting donations at a frenetic pace. 

So far they've raised about half their goal, and hope to make an even bigger dent in the cost this weekend when they again collect donations outside Gillette Stadium for the Patriots' game against the Miami Dolphins.

But accomplishing so much - both as a football team and as a group of coaches and parents in support of their youngsters' dreams - has brought everyone involved a little closer.

"Though we haven’t known each other long, we really feel like a family," Reid said.

And head coach Andrew Nashawaty knows his team is poised to win it all. 

"The journey started five months ago and to culminate in a championship would be an amazing experience these kids would never forget," Nashawaty said. "This team was built to win a national championship."

The team draws players from more than a dozen communities, mostly south of Boston. Below is a roster:

Jersey #

Name

Position

Hometown

5

Mike Silva

DB/ RB

Kingston

10

Connor Degenhardt

QB

Westford

11

Tony Ortega

RB

Mattapan

12

Austin Burton

QB

Newton

18

Jack Frisoli

DB/RB

Westwood

19

Matt Andreas

WR/RB/QB

Danvers

33

Jack McNeil

DB/RB

Marshfield

37

Eddrick Meuse

LB

Framingham

38

Nick Curran

DB

Plymouth

39

Angel Santiago

TE/WR

Plymouth

41

Blake Gallagher

LB/FB

Raynham

43

Jack McGowan

LB

Canton

44

Peter Scibilia

RB

Norfolk

48

Dawson Cubit

RB/DB

Weymouth

52

Richard Reid

LB

Marshfield

54

Everett Tillett

LB

Wayland

65

Mike Connolly

LB

Wellesley

66

CJ Herson

OL/DL

Plainville

68

Owen Gideon-Murphy

DB

Cohasset

69

Jack Dirstine

DL

Acton

70

Finn Dirstine

OL/DL

Acton

71

Paxton Smith

OL 

Merrimack,NH

72

Zachary Trombley

OL

Canton

76

Daniel Loewen

OL

Wrentham

80

Charles Joyner-James

DE

Framingham

81

Ezekiel Ebieshuwa

WR

Lynn

83

JC Ralff

WR/TE

Norfolk

93

Eli Hopkins

K/P

Brookline

94

Brett Mazur

DL

Wrentham

95

Jack Czarniak

OL/DL

Halifax

96

Joshua Davis

DL

Framingham

97

Daniel Boyle

DL

Bridgewater

98

Marcus Elysee

OL

Framingham

99

Malvin Santana

DL

Wayland



 


 

  

  






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