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Thanksgiving Day, November 26, 2009

One of the best two-year periods in Hanover High football came to a close on Thanksgiving after the Indians beat Norwell, 37-22.

In two years under the direction of head coach Brian King, Hanover finished 15-8. That included winning the Patriot League Fisher Division title and the Paul Revere Bowl last season. The victory over Norwell was the first time the Indians (7-4) won in consecutive seasons dating back to the 1991-92 teams.

Following a loss to Rockland that ended the team’s chances of repeating as Fisher champions, King stressed setting the tone early in the contest. Brendan Spillane’s forced fumble in the first quarter after Hanover’s first touchdown did just that.

“He had three solo tackles on kickoffs,” King said of the Coaches Award winner. “He really set the tone on special teams, which is a big part of the game for us.”

The biggest disappointment from the triumph was the injury to senior captain Greg Devine, who broke his collarbone after catching that first touchdown, a 14-yard pass from Brett Johnson (6-of-8 passing, 77 yards).

“He is my best player,” King said of Devine, despite the presence of Brett Wheeler, who rushed for over 1,300 yards and 17 touchdowns this season, including 293 total yards and two scores against Norwell. “We didn’t have him at (strong-side) linebacker and that was a big hole that they took advantage of (referring to Norwell’s first touchdown run).”

King reports that the break was at least a clean one that might enable Devine to return to the basketball court, where he is a captain, by January.

Stepping up in Devine’s absence was Fran Armstrong, who was chosen as the Hanover Defensive Player of the Game Award winner. The defensive end, who missed some games early in the season with an injury, was chosen a Patriot League all-star along with Wheeler, Devine, Travis Brown and Joey Shisler. Brown lined up next to Armstrong on offense at left tackle, while Shisler, who was chosen for his play at cornerback, scored in the third quarter against Norwell.

The Indians’ team that will take to the field next year against the Clippers will be a vastly different one than this senior-laden group. Only juniors Mark Stearns, John Armstrong and Brandan Rugman and sophomore Pat Hannigan return with significant varsity experience. Stearns, a fullback/linebacker, recovered the fumble that Spillane forced. Armstrong was the starting center, with Hannigan lining up next to him at right guard, while Rugman rotated into both lines.

Among the 14 seniors who made big plays were Ian Concannon forcing a fourth-quarter fumble that was recovered by Matt Gerrish. Jack MacNeill was the recipient of Johnson’s second touchdown pass.

“Most definitely it’ll be a rebuilding year,” said King, whose junior varsity team won three games this fall and whose freshman team had a .500 record.

Article: Indians win Turkey Day shootout (Hanover Mariner)
By Rick Seto
Wed Dec 02, 2009, 04:54 PM EST

Photos: Stephen T. Ryerson