A senior season as good as Matthias Latham deserved a much better ending.
Latham, the Central Catholic senior, was severely disabled by a sprained ankle, was unable to train all week and then left everything he could muster on the field as he defeated Saint John’s Prep in Friday night’s Raider playoffs lost.
“He gutted it even though he couldn’t play on offense,” Central coach Chuck Adamopoulos said of his safety/signal caller on defense. “He still had six tackles and one interception, basically on one leg. He gave us everything he had, just a great leader.”
Latham, like most of his Raider team-mates, did his best this weekend to put defeat behind him. Unlike the other Raiders, he won’t get a last shot Thursday morning when Central collides with Lawrence High.
“It definitely stinks of losing. I was a little sad but I’m glad I was able to finish with my team,” said Latham, who wasn’t sure if the ankle would allow him to get on the field against the prep.
“With my family and friends, I have a great group behind me. My friends distracted me as much as possible. I watched the game again (Sunday), it was tough.”
Latham sprained his ankle badly in the second half.
At this point the outcome was decided. On Friday night, the captain admits, Central weren’t the better side.
“It would be whoever had the more physical team that would win the game,” Latham said.
“They were the more physical team. They leaned on us in the third quarter and ran away.”
Latham will now focus on preparing the Raiders as best they can for Lawrence. It’s certainly an emotional week at Central. Even if he can’t be on the field, he will be in the thick of it.
“We really need to put some pieces in the right places,” Latham said, noting he’s not the only Raider star who won’t be in Thursday’s lineup.
“We have a really great group of children. I enjoy being on the team. Being around her will lift my spirits.”
An Eagle-Tribune All-Star and Eastern Mass. All-Scholastic as a junior, Latham certainly did not disappoint this fall.
He was defensively dominant at times, while offensively he ran 75 times for 633 yards and scored 11 touchdowns.
“He was exceptional on both sides of the ball,” said Adamopoulos. “He’s definitely in the upper league of players I’ve had in my coaching career.”
ANOTHER THOUGHT ON TURKEY DAY
Doesn’t New Hampshire already have it right?
The recent dreadful news coming out of Haverhill and the subsequent cancellation of the annual Haverhill-Lowell Thanksgiving brought discussion of the Turkey Day schedule and games back into vogue.
Then Winnacunnet High of Hampton Beach entered and decided to play Lowell, who accepted.
That prompted some football guys in Granite State to rally troops in support of teams playing Thanksgiving.
So let’s address a few things in this conversation.
The New Hampshire playoffs ended last week in D-III and D-IV, this week in D-II, and ending Saturday with Londonderry and Bedford playing for the title in DI.
There’s a Thanksgiving game – in Manchester – and it’s hoop/hockey/wrestling season for everyone else.
What’s wrong with that? Thanksgiving football just ain’t what it used to be. In 90% of the games tradition has taken its course.
Lawrence no longer plays Lowell. Things change.
North Andover and Andover will be a rivalry game whether they play it Wednesday night or in September.
Think of the children from Methuen and Central.
Is it good for these kids to play an emotional/physical war on Friday night and then come back Thursday morning to play a game?
Or consider trainer Brian St. Pierre at St. John’s Prep. He has a Super Bowl date with Springfield Central in two weeks. But first, the Eagles must face rival Xaverian on Thanksgiving. Sorry but when I’m St Pierre I play my seniors on Thursday who don’t usually see the field along with my JV team.
I’m not risking any starter injury, not with a title shot anytime soon.
I’ve always been on the New Hampshire way. Play your schedule. Play your playoffs. On to winter.
And then comes Winnacunnet, which last played a game on November 4th. They probably turned in gear a day or two later and haven’t practiced since.
You’re going to ask kids who have been off for weeks to prepare for a football game over four workdays? how smart is that
Props to the Warrior players who want to step up and give Lowell a solid performance. The Red Raiders were victims of the harassing mess at HHS. But you have to wonder if this was a wise decision by the adults involved.