Text and photos by Steev Riccardo
WEBSTER – Greetings sports fans!
We wrote right here in this very column a few weeks ago that an Oxford-Bay Path Thanksgiving football game would make perfect sense and it looks like everyone concurs!
The two neighboring schools have agreed to meet on Thanksgiving morning starting this November in what should take their rivalry to the next level. The only thing that still needed to be determined at press time was the location of this year’s inaugural meeting.
For the Pirates, it’s a new beginning. After over forty years of playing Auburn on Thanksgiving morning, they will now face next-door neighbor Bay Path, whom they have played on opening day the last few seasons.
Second year head coach Mike Adams, who replaced Jeff Parcells (Sutton A.D.), has a year under his belt and will undoubtedly be more comfortable with his surroundings and is looking at a much better schedule next season instead of the nightmare the school had to deal with this past season.
Bay Path, which has an excellent football program run by the legendary Al Dhembe, who was inducted into the Massachusetts High School Hall of Fame this past May, will now get to do something that it hasn’t been doing: play on Thanksgiving morning.
All in all, it’s a great move and should make for an even more exciting rivalry between the two schools and hopefully a long lasting Turkey Day relationship.
Shepherd Hill girl’s basketball: With their elimination in the D1 Central Mass district playoffs to eventual champions Holy Name, the Rams, who finished 15-7, will be looking to reload next season.
After losing the legend Meghan Fornaro last season, they now will bid farewell to several seniors, including core players and starting co-captains Taylor Daniels (8.8) and Tina Gauvin (8.7), along with starting center and leading rebounder JoJo L’Heureux (8.6) a trio that counted for an average of almost 26 points a game for the Rams. These are players who will be hard to replace, but coach Jim Hackenson does have some talent coming back and remains optimistic as usual about the school’s future in girls’ hoop.
Junior guard “Miss Defense” Brooke Packard, who led the team in scoring with a 9.8 average, sophomore forward Ciara McKissick, and junior forward Dominique Woods will give the Rams three solid contributors to build on.
Holy Name girls: The Holy Name girls’ basketball team won the Central Mass Division 1 tournament and was crowned champion on Saturday night in Fitchburg, avenging a loss to a Wachusett Regional team that beat them in the finals a year ago.
With Webster’s Gigi Guenther, Carolyn Trottier, and Emily Kriedler, along with Oxford’s Malissa Saad, we are talking lots of local flavor on this Naps team. Imagine if these girls had stayed in the Southern Worcester County League and went to Bartlett and Oxford, oh my!
Taylor Daniels (Shepherd Hill senior co-captain) on playing her final game for the Rams: “I would give anything to be able to play one more game on my home court. It feels like just yesterday that I was a freshman scared to death at varsity tryouts. It really did go by too fast but I don't regret anything in these last four years.”
Gigi Guenther (Holy Name sophomore) on beating Shepherd Hill: “We knew it was the semi-finals and we knew we had to put a lot of pressure on them because we wanted to advance. Our team loves defense and we put pressure on them and we are golden.”
CrossFit HammerMill grand opening: We stopped by the grand opening of the new crossfit gym in Webster and things were definitely hopping. One of the guests, who is also a member of the club that was working out, was Bartlett grad Rocco DiStefano, who is now playing football and on the track team at Springfield College.
Rocco reminded us that it was CrossFit HammerMill owner Michael Harpin and General manager David Bugan who were his greatest role models and credits them with helping him have a tremendous career at Bartlett, and what a career it was!