BOSTON –- Boston Latin junior Jhalen Bien-Aime scored three touchdowns including a second quarter 63-yard run that broke open a scoreless tie and brought the Wolfpack offense to life as Latin (5-6) defeated rival Boston English (1-10), 50-0, in the 125th edition of the nation’s oldest continuous high school football rivalry.
Bien-Amie added a 73-yard touchdown run in the third quarter and had a four-yard return of a Seth Occus blocked punt to pace the Wolfpack. The junior standout finished the game with 148 yards of Latin’s 328 yards of total offense.
“It was great blocking from the seniors,” said Bien-Amie. “It’s pretty easy when they open up those big holes. You just run.”
Despite the lopsided final, the game was hardly a cakewalk for Latin in the early going. The English defense held Latin to negative yardage in the first quarter, and forced a fumble late in the opening frame.
The Bulldogs offense, though, had trouble moving the ball. Despite two eight-play drives in the first, English mustered just 42 total yards of offense in the game and couldn’t get the ball across midfield.
After English punted on the opening play of the second, the Latin offense took over. Bien-Amie found a hole on the right side on the first play and hustled 63 yards to the endzone. After a quick three-and-out by English, Latin struck again on the very next play as Tyler Hallinan found room on the left and ran 43 yards. Quarterback Cal Cahill’s keeper for the conversion gave Latin the 14-0 lead.
Later in the second, Latin mustered its only productive drive of the first half going 72 yards in five plays capped by a 42-yard touchdown run from Mike Lenane with 3:23 remaining.
“English gave us more than we could handle in that first quarter,” said Boston Latin head coach John McDonough. “We had no first downs, negative yards. But once the kids got going, depth came into play.”
In the second half, the Latin attack continued. After Bien-Amie’s two touchdowns - one on each side of the ball - gave Latin a 38-0 advantage, junior Mike Surdek broke free for a 31-yard touchdown midway through the third and, after a fumble by English quarterback Dhe’Jour Relerford gave the Wolfpack first-and-goal from the 4 early in the fourth, junior Mike Cronin stumbled in for the game’s final score.
“We ended up giving up too many easy points,” said Relerford. “We had some good blocks on the edge but it wasn’t consistent.”
Latin’s Le makes history: There has been plenty of history between Latin and English in the 125 years of the rivalry, but none like the history that was made on Thursday.
With the game well in hand and Latin leading 44-0 with 10:22 remaining, the Latin sideline came alive as Kathy Le hustled out onto the field becoming the first female to take part in the nation’s oldest continuous rivalry.
Le, a senior, decided to try out for the team this year after asking around and learning girls were allowed to play. Until Thursday, Le had served as a practice player. But Latin’s McDonough decided that after a century and a quarter, it was time to break the gender barrier in the Latin-English game.
“It was awesome,” said Le, who said she got the bug for the gridiron when she played flag football in elementary school. “I’m glad that they allowed me to be a part of this game and this tradition.”
Asked if she was nervous, she said she definitely was but also fed off the raucous cheers from the fans as she took the field.
“It felt incredible,” said Le, who said she had heard of girls playing on the football team before but was told no one had ever made it through the entire season. “I’m grateful for all the support everyone has given me.”
Hall of Famer Lamb thankful for opportunity: Any high school football pundits might have recognized a familiar face on the sidelines for Boston England on Thursday. Legendary Natick head coach and Massachusetts High School Football Hall of Famer Tom Lamb is now roaming the English sidelines as an assistant under head coach Chris Boswell.
Lamb, who won four Super Bowl titles and coached five players named Flutie (including Heisman winner Doug) that spanned two generations, retired as Natick’s head coach in 2009. At age 61 and sporting a career record of 248-65-2 at Natick and Norwood, he thought his football days were over.
But last fall, he realized retiring wasn’t exciting enough and thus he began helping a number of different programs in the Boston City League having developed a relationship Ken Still, the city’s athletic director, while serving as an assistant at Northeastern in 90s.
“Having gotten to know some of the city guys, I wanted to do some things to help city football,” said Lamb. “Last year, I went around to some different schools, but I wasn’t helping any. I found I was more in the way than anything.”
So Lamb called Still and asked if there was one program that specifically needed some help.
“Chris [Bowsell] called me and said he lost a coach and needed some help,” said Lamb. “So I was in.”
Lamb says he is encouraged with how the English program has developed. Despite the score on Thursday, English has taken some major steps forwards this season. As many worry about the health and future of the 125-year rivalry with Latin (English has just one win in the last 30 years), Lamb says he thinks the program is on the upswing.
“We made a step in [getting players involved,” said Lamb about an English club this year that had 27 players on the sideline compared to just 14 a year ago. “We’ve still got a lot of young kids, but they’ve been unbelievable.
“The kids are such good kids. They want to win. They want to play hard. They’re devastated here [with Thursday’s loss].
“Because they’re so young, when they get behind it’s hard for them to be consistent. But they’re awesome kids. They really are.”
BOSTON LATIN 50, BOSTON ENGLISH 0
BL (5-6)022226 --- 50
BE (1-10)0000 –-- 0
Jhalen Bien-Aime 63 run (run failed) 10:05
Tyler Hallinan 43 run (Cal Cahill run) 7:58
Mike Lenane 42 run (Hallinan run) 3:23
Bien-Aime 73 run (Hallinan run) 9:33
Bien-Aime 4 yd block punt return (Hallinan run) 7:55
Mike Surdek 31 run (run failed) 6:43
Mike Cronin 4 run (run failed) 10:02