Boston High School: Bill Moore

D2 West: Westfield 49, East Longmeadow 26

November, 8, 2013
11/08/13
11:30
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WESTFIELD, Mass. -- It was the Rashaun Rivers show Friday at Westfield’s Bullens Field as the No. 2 Bombers routed third-seeded East Longmeadow in Western Mass. Division 2 Semifinal action.

Rivers scored racked up 222 yards and scored five times to power Westfield to a 49-26 win that was much more dominant than the final score indicated.

Westfield moves on to face top-seeded Springfield Central, winners over Longmeadow in the region’s other Division 2 semifinal Friday.

Rivers broke East Longmeadow’s collective back with a pair of impressive touchdown runs early in each half.

After the Spartans scored the game’s first points, Rivers scored from 60 yards out on the game’s very next play. He kept the momentum in Westfield’s corner early in the third quarter with a 63-yard run on the Bombers’ first offensive play of the half.

“Rashaun had a great game,” said Westfield head coach Bill Moore. “He had some tremendous runs and refused to go down.”

After a fumble on their first offensive possession, Westfield went on to score on its remaining seven series.

“We just played better this time around,” Moore said in regards to the team’s earlier victory over East Longmeadow. “We got better throughout the course of the week.”

Ben Geschwind added two first-half touchdowns and 41 yards on the ground while quarterback Jake Toomey ran for 94 yards.

East Longmeadow, which ends its postseason run at 6-3, was powered by Mike Maggipinto, who ran for 163 yards and a touchdown. John Bortolussi added 107 yards and a score.

EMOTIONS RUNNING HIGH
Westfield had an emotional team huddle following the victory and it’s easy to understand why.

The game was the last the team will play at home this season --- no matter how far they march in the postseason. It’s the last time a very dedicated group of seniors will play in front of the home crowd and it was also the last home game of Moore’s tenure.

“It’s been a great season,” Moore said. “I’ll look back at it when it’s all said and done and feel great about what we’ve done. Tonight, we’re going to enjoy this one.”

It was equally emotional for the group of veterans on the field.

“We worked since we were freshmen for this very night,” said linebacker Noah Swords, who recorded three sacks and gained pressure on the quarterback all night. “We had to do whatever it took to win. You don’t feel pain, you don’t feel anything. You just feel great.”

ANOTHER CHANCE
The semifinal win sets up a chance at redemption for the Westfield Bombers.

The only blemish in an otherwise terrific season came last week in a blowout loss to Central.

Fortunately for Westfield, it gets a chance to erase that blemish next week in the sectional title game.

“We were disappointed in how we played last week,” Moore said. “I think all of us are honored to have the opportunity to go play them again.”

Westfield was in it in last week’s matchup late in the first half before a big stop on fourth-and-goal swung the momentum.

“The bottom line for us is that we just have to play better,” Moore said.

Recap: No. 3 Central 52, No. 13 Westfield 14

November, 2, 2013
11/02/13
1:57
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SPRINGFIELD, Mass. -- For what was at stake, Springfield Central's 52-14 dissection of Westfield, Friday at Fred Berte Field, was taken in stride. The post-game celebration that was expected, consisted of just a few hugs and high-fives.

For the Golden Eagles, it was business as usual.

Central's triumph did accomplished two goals. The No. 3 Golden Eagles (7-1, 7-0) claimed their third consecutive AA Conference crown as well as catapulting them to the top seed in next weekend's Division 2 Western Mass. Tournament.

But this team has loftier goals in mind — that being a state championship.

Since losing its season-opener to Everett, Central has now run off seven straight victories. Judging by the way they handled the No. 13 Bombers, the Golden Eagles seemed primed to contend for a state title.

"You have to give a shout out to our scout team and coaching staff for this win tonight," Central head coach Valdamar Brower said. "We played very-disciplined. We were able to execute and our kids were very determined tonight."

Central took control of this one early, jumping out to a 20-0 lead early in the second quarter on a pair of touchdown runs (5 and 1 yard, respectively) from all-everything quarterback Cody Williams and a Ju'an Williams 13-yard reception.

Cody Williams, a Monmouth University commit, finished another brilliant evening by completing 9-of-12 passes for 133 yards. The senior also rushed for 107 yards on 15 carries.

Westfield (7-1, 6-1) was presumed to be Central's toughest opponent outside of Everett. For a brief period, the Bombers lived up to that billing after quarterback Jake Toomey (4-of-13, 20 yards, 37 rushing yards) scored on an 8-yard run to cut the deficit to 20-7.

Moments later, Westfield was driving again. The Bombers marched 64 yards before facing a fourth-and-goal at the Golden Eagles' 1-yard line. It was a no-brainer that Westfield would give the ball to bulldozing fullback Ben Geschwind.

As planned, it did, but Central's defensive front stopped the senior short of the goal line thus turning the ball over to the Golden Eagles. Geschwind, the Bombers' season-leading ground-gainer, carried the ball 21 times for 111 yards.

Teammate Cody Neidig, a junior, contributed 103 yards on 11 carries.

"Obviously we are disappointed with the way things went tonight," said Westfield coach Bill Moore, who will retire once the postseason is over with. "There were a couple of occasions where we made it a game. We got stuffed on that goal line play which really hurt us. We were about an inch away from making it a 20-14 game. But Central is a very good team. They have great players and a great staff who all work very hard. Tonight wasn't our night but we have a good group of kids that will keep fighting."

The Golden Eagles out-gained Westfield 511 yards to 350.

After stopping Geschwind, Central, with its quick-strike, no-huddle offense, wasted little time escaping the shadow of its own goal post. A 25-yard carry from versatile running back Troy Morrow set the stage for his own 74-yard jaunt down the right sideline to make the score 27-7 with just 1:39 showing before halftime. Morrow, who was virtually unstoppable on this night, gained 209 yards on 18 attempts.

"Their linebackers shift around a lot but when they shifted the wrong way that opened up holes for us," said Morrow, a senior. "It worked out perfectly tonight. For us, this is just the start of a journey. We just have to keep focused. Overall, this team has depth which is a good thing to have at this time of the year. We just need to stay hungry and humble."

Added Brower, "Troy has been giving maximum effort since the start of the season," he said. "I was excited to see him making big plays in a big game like this. But he's been doing it all year for us."

A quick four-and-out by Westfield, on its ensuing possession, was all the Golden Eagles would need to increase their total. Getting the ball on the Bombers' 45, Cody Williams found Malik Johnson for a 13-yard reception. That was followed by a pair of Cody Williams' runs netting 16 yards. With just 12 seconds to go before the break, The signal-caller, who had ample time given to him thanks to his solid front line, connected with Traveis Dykes for a 17-yard touchdown sending the Golden Eagles into the half well in-control, leading 33-7.

Getting the ball back to begin the second half, Central marched 71 yards before DaQuon Clemons darted into the end zone from 13 yards out to push the advantage to 39-7. A Toomey to Garrett Fitzgerald 19-yard scoring pass on Westfield's next possession did little to rattle the Golden Eagles.

During the final 3:47, Central scored twice more leaving no doubt who the favorite is to come out of Western Mass. At 3:47, Williams danced around several would-be tacklers for a 42-yard score. A short time later, sophomore cornerback Tyreque Estrada-Crapps stepped in front of a Toomey pass, returning it 53 yards into the end zone to close this contest out.

Roundtable: Bigger things to come for Xaverian?

September, 26, 2013
9/26/13
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1. SPECIAL TEAMS PLAYED A MAJOR FACTOR IN XAVERIAN'S 49-13 DRUBBING OF BRIDGEWATER-RAYNHAM, RETURNING TWO BLOCKED PUNTS FOR TOUCHDOWNSW, BUT A.J. KING (2 TDs) DIDN'T HAVE A BAD DAY EITHER. IS THIS XAVERIAN SQUAD CAPABLE OF ROUTINELY PUTTING UP BIG NUMBERS?

Brendan Hall, ESPN Boston High Schools Editor: If this were 2012, or any other recent year for that matter, I would lean towards labeling that game an anomaly. Xaverian squads typically aren't known for blowing up the scoreboard, instead moving the chains rather steadily behind a conservative multiple offense and relying on change-of-pace backs to grind out the tough yardage. I've been in this for 10 years, and this year's Xaverian team feels like one of the more unpredictable squads that I can recall. And when I say that, I mean you just don't know that they're going to throw at you. Certainly, Jake Farrell brings about an escapeability intangible they typically haven't had with quarterbacks, and there is some promising sophomore talent.

By the way, whoever the special teams coach is at Xaverian, give that man a raise. If you think the B-R game was an aberration, ask the BB&N coaches how their scrimmage with the Hawks went.

Scott Barboza, ESPN Boston High Schools editor: I know we all thought the Hawks’ defense would be ahead of the offense entering the season, but this looks like a much-improved group thus far. I like the one-two punch Shayne Kaminski and Noah Sorrento provide in the backfield. They have some legit targets in the passing game with King and D.J. Sperzel and Jake Farrell has looked great at quarterback. If the offensive line keeps creating holes and pass protecting the way they have in the first two weeks, I don’t foresee a slowdown.

John McGuirk, ESPN Boston correspondent: With the talent Xaverian has they should continue to put up decent numbers. They have four 'big' games left on the schedule in Barnstable, Brockton, BC High and St. John's Prep. All four of those programs are outstanding but all have issues on defense as well which should work in the Hawks' favor.

2. NASHOBA OWNS THE STATE'S LONGEST ACTIVE WIN STREAK (28 GAMES), BUT TWO TOUGH OPPONENTS LAY AHEAD IN WACHUSETT AND ST. JOHN'S OF SHREWSBURY. DO YOU SEE THE CHIEFTAINS MAKING IT TO 30 STRAIGHT?

Hall: Wachusett matches up evenly on paper with Nashoba, but watch out for St. John's. Andrew Smiley is heating up (380 passing yards the last six quarters), and the running game seems to be hitting a groove with St. Louis transplant Shane Combs taking over the feature role. The "blur" offense is a whirlwind to handle when all is going right, and you always have to watch where Davon Jones lines up. I see the Pioneers stopping Nashoba's streak at 29.

Barboza: I think it’ll end at No. 29. The Chieftains will get by Wachusett, but I think the Pioneers’ athletes, particularly on the perimeter, will prove too much to handle.

McGuirk: I see Nashoba reaching 30 straight wins. Wachusett is going through a down year, having already lost to St. Peter-Marian and Fitchburg. And what has been noted many times, St. John's biggest weakness the last couple of seasons has been its porous defense and inability to make tackles consistently. If you look past those next two games, the Chieftains will face a pair of unbeatens (Marlborough and Leominster). That is where the streak could possibly come to a close.

3. BETWEEN THE SUPERB STARTS FROM BROCKTON, TAUNTON, TEWKSBURY AND WESTFIELD, THE TRIPLE OPTION IS MAKING A COMEBACK. WHICH TEAM RUNS IT BEST?

Hall: It's tough to argue against Westfield's ridiculous numbers -- there are running backs that will go a whole season not putting up as many rushing yards as the Bombers have their first two games of the season. But it's hard to argue against Brockton's talent. Aaron LeClair and Jamal Williams get to the perimeter quick, and the Boxers can steamroll you inside with counters and dives. All four of these teams have a dynamic playmaker in the backfield -- LeClair, Tewksbury's Eddie Matovu, Westfield's Ben Geschwind and Taunton's Domingo Jenkins -- but I will give Brockton the edge here because of what they have in the trenches. Aaron Monteiro, the Boxers' prized prospect at 6-foot-5 and 290 pounds, is a road grader at left guard with a pretty high ceiling.

Barboza: As of right now, I don’t see how you can argue with Westfield. The Bombers are running roughshod over opponents behind senior fullback Ben Geschwind. After running for 348 yards and six touchdowns as a team during last week's 49-20 win over West Springfield, Westfield has scored 109 points in two games, with Geschwind averaging more than 150 yards per game.

Josh Perry, HockomockSports.com: I can’t say whether or not Taunton runs it better than other teams in the state, but I can say that the Tigers do make it look fun. With Gerald Cortijo and Steven Harrison giving star back Domingo Jenkins some help in the backfield, the Tigers have speedy and shifty runners. It’s almost enough to make you forget just how good the ground game would have been without Jamal Williams’ move to Brockton. Taunton’s ability to run the triple option will of course get a much tougher test this week against King Philip and its strong defense, but the Tigers are unique among the other Hockomock teams and it can be fun to watch.

McGuirk: The way Westfield is dominating the competition (109 points in two games), I would say the the triple option is working best for them. They have the right personnel to execute it and coach Bill Moore is very good at putting the right players in place to keep it rolling effectively, especially his tandem of Ben Geschwind and Jake Toomey, who are both averaging over 10 yards-per-carry.

4. TWO OF THE MERRIMACK VALLEY CONFERENCE'S BEST SQUADS, CENTRAL CATHOLIC AND LOWELL, SURRENDERED A COMBINED 73 POINTS AGAINST NON-LEAGUE TOP 10 OPPONENTS LAST WEEKEND. ARE WE HEADED FOR ANOTHER SEASON OF HIGH SCORES IN THE MVC?

Hall: Tough to tell, because Tewksbury has more than pulled its weight in the defensive end so far. If there's one team that can avoid track meets, it's the Redmen. Everyone else, good luck. We anointed the MVC "Death By 1,000 Shallow Crosses" a year ago, and with the amount of spread offense and no-huddle tempo deployed in this league, we could very well be in for another season of Wild West scores.

Barboza: I'd take my chances with the defensive units of Andover, Central Catholic, Lowell and Tewksbury against just about any offense in the state, but what comes into play in the MVC is the teams' offensive style of play. With so many teams in its ranks adopting the spread offense, the big numbers put up seemingly on a weekly basis are more a function of the pace of the game, with shortened drives as opposed to rushing-oriented, ball-control styles of play. But as long as MVC teams continue to live and die by the sword (or the spread), I think we'll continue to see some lopsided numbers.

Mike Abelson, ESPN Boston correspondent: Yes and no. Central and Lowell, when the blur is working as advertised, can drop basketball scores on lesser teams because of the athletic talent. That being said, through three weeks there are only two MVC teams averaging 30 or more points. Central is one, and the other, North Andover, hasn't won a game. The only two remaining undefeated teams, Tewksbury and Methuen, are averaging 27 and 18 points a game, respectively, and winning games without all the flash and dash of putting up buckets of points. Yes, the MVC will have it's share of high-scoring contests (I'll put the over/under for Central-Chelmsford at 90.5), but it won't consistently translate to W's.

5. AFTER A ROUGH FIRST WEEK, HAS BARNSTABLE FIGURED IT OUT? CAN THEY KNOCK OFF NO. 1 XAVERIAN?

Hall: I feel like this is a sneaky good matchup. Let's not forget Barnstable was our preseason No. 12 before getting shell-shocked by Dennis-Yarmouth in the opening weekend. There is talent, between versatile athlete Hayden Murphy, shutdown corner Derek Estes and elusive scatback Justus Chafee.

Defensively, Barnstable typically likes to stretch vertically and keep everything in front of them, which can be a bad matchup against spread teams like Dennis-Yarmouth. Last week against BC High, they looked like they cleaned up a lot of their mistakes. Xaverian's offense, while a bit more creative, has some similarities to BC High's. Going the other way, the Red Raiders use some funky misdirection in the run game to prevent linebackers from filling gaps. On their first touchdown against BC, for instance, a receiver backpedaled off the line of scrimmage, feigning a bubble screen, putting several defenders on their heels as Chafee came up the gut on a zone read.

That kind of stuff can keep even the best defenses on their toes. Expect some fireworks, and some dynamic playcalling, in this one.

Barboza: This is a yes-and-no proposition to me. I think the Raiders righted ship after an embarrassing loss to Cape rival Dennis-Yarmouth in Week 1, going on the road to beat another Catholic Conference foe in BC High. But I think Barnstable would need to play a near perfect game, while forcing the Hawks into some turnovers in order to make it four straight defeats of an ESPN Boston No. 1 squad. I'm not saying it will not be a close game, I just like Xaverian a little bit more.

Perry: In a preseason roundtable, I said that Barnstable was a team that was getting overlooked because of the players that it lost from last year. I’ll stick by that and say that the Raiders give Xaverian a run for their money. The No. 1 ranking has been more of an albatross than an honor this year, so I’ll say that Barnstable has a good chance of causing the Hawks problems.

McGuirk: Barnstable is good but Xaverian is playing with a lot of confidence, especially following the huge win over B-R last week. The Hawks should take care of the Red Raiders who gave up 37 points to D-Y in Week One but did bounce back nicely last week against BC High.

Abelson: In Hayden Murphy I trust. In the ESPN Boston poll curse I believe. Barnstable, 27-21.

6. THE HOCKOMOCK LEAGUE'S KELLY-REX DIVISION MIGHT BE THE STATE'S MOST UNPREDICTABLE RACE THIS FALL. AS LEAGUE PLAY OPENS UP THIS WEEK, PROJECT YOUR CHAMPION AND DARK HORSE.

Hall: Mansfield was the prohibitive favorite in most minds heading into the season, and so far they've done little to suggest otherwise. Consider that nearly three weeks out from their shocking upset of Dunbar (Md.), the Hornets are still without five starters. They're already a dynamic offense, between quarterback Kyle Wisnieski, 6-foot-5 flex tight end Brendan Hill, and space-carving tailback Miguel Villar-Perez. Hard to go against that.

For dark horses, I like Attleboro. I think it's understated how big their line is, particularly at defensive tackle, and there are plenty of weapons on offense between quarterback Tim Walsh, tight end Luke Morrison and receiver Brendan Massey. This program has long been a sleeping giant, and new coach Mike Strachan has re-awakened those sentiments.

Barboza: All along, I've penciled in Mansfield as the team to beat in the Kelley-Rex. I believe they had the most complete group of talent on either side of the ball, and also had the most upside. The scary part is that, due to injury, the Hornets might not have yet hit their apogee and will continue to strengthen as the season progresses.

Now, for the sleeper, I know we've talked up Attleboro up a lot in the early going -- to the point that I really think they're a threat in Division 1 South. Seeing that the Blue Bombardiers are for real in the first two weeks of the season, I'm going to go with Taunton. I don't think Chris Greding has gotten enough credit for the job he's done turning around the Tigers program in short order. Of course, an infusion of talent led by Domingo Jenkins helps, but I wouldn't be at all surprised if Taunton knocks off one of the Hock's "Big Three" -- King Philip, Mansfield, North Attleborough -- at some point this season.

Perry: The favorite heading into the Hockomock League season is defending champions Mansfield and its new spread attack that takes advantage of its great weapons like senior quarterback Kyle Wisnieski and junior tight end Brendan Hill. Attleboro has gotten a lot of hype from media, me included, in the preseason as a sleeper in the Hock. A new coaching staff, a new field, and new schemes on both sides of the ball have made the Bombardiers a much more confident crew and better utilize the weapons that it has. The Bombardiers were only a few mental mistakes from beating Mansfield last season and Tim Walsh is on fire running the spread formation – watch out for Attleboro. Of course, watch out for KP, Franklin, and North Attleborough, too. It really is up for grabs

McGuirk: The Kelly-Rex Division is solid with four teams still unbeaten (Mansfield, Attleboro, North Attleboro and Taunton). When it is all said and done. I believe it will come down to Mansfield and North Attleborough for the title because of their high-octane offenses. Attleboro has to be considered the darkhorse here because of its stingy defense which could carry them through. It will be interesting to watch all four of these team beat up one another during the season and see who survives.

Rotsko leaves lasting impression on MIAA football

June, 21, 2012
6/21/12
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LONGMEADOW, Mass. -- When people look back on Alex Rotsko’s tenure as head football coach at Longmeadow, it won’t necessarily be the eye-popping records set and accolades acquired that are remembered first.

It won’t be the career 184-39 record or the 15 straight Super Bowl appearances. It won’t be the 11 Super Bowl victories, 10 straight league titles or that 47-game winning streak that captured national recognition.

It will be the gigantic footprint Rotsko left on high school football in Massachusetts that first comes to mind.

Rotsko, who will become the head football coach at Marshwood High School in South Berwick, Maine this fall, obviously left quite the impression on the town of Longmeadow. But Rotsko’s influence didn’t stop at city limits. No, Rotsko’s impact was felt at all levels of high school football in Western Massachusetts and throughout the MIAA.

And, now, Rotsko’s most proud of how his involvement in such organizations has led to other area coaches becoming engaged.

“I’d like to think it’s improved over the years,” he said. “I see a lot more coaches involved. I know that when I was coaching at AIC and was involved in the National Football Foundation, the first year I came to Longmeadow, I was the only high school coach involved.

“Here’s an organization that does most of their work involving high schools and I’m the only high school coach. It was embarrassing. Now, you have a lot more coaches involved. (East Longmeadow’s) Scott Raymond, (Westfield’s) Bill Moore, (West Springfield’s) Chad Labonte; those guys have done a wonderful job getting involved.”

Rotsko has been instrumental in the growth of various local organizations devised to improve high school football and served as Western Massachusetts’ unofficial ambassador to the state’s football coaches association as well as the MIAA.

He became the president of the Western Mass. chapter of the National Football Foundation, helping the group grow to new lengths and serving as founder of the annual Shriners Chowder Bowl, which pits the top seniors from Western Mass. against those from Central Massachusetts. In 2009, he was honored by the National Football Foundation and College Hall of Fame for his leadership.

“He has the highest integrity,” said Nick St. George, who’ll take over the Lancers after being Rotsko’s right-hand man for the past 19 years. “He has work ethic you try to teach people about. I’ve heard many players refer to his work ethic. They see how hard he works and don’t want to let him down. He always does the right thing. He talks about playing football the right way and living the right way.”

Of course, when it comes to Rotsko, it will be hard not to speak of the impressive winning resume. Longmeadow, under his reign, won its 11th Super Bowl championship this past December at Gillette Stadium. With a team putting its third-string quarterback under center because of a rash of injuries, the Lancers didn’t skip a beat, ultimately dismantling upstart Springfield Central for yet another title.

It was among the best coaching jobs on a long list of them for Rotsko, who will remember the dirt-dog teams even more than some of his most talented.

“Some of the years we were 8-3 and had to work a little harder were among my favorite,” Rotsko said. “Those teams and the ones like we had year, those are the most fun for coaches. We may not have had the most talent but we got the most out of the kids.”

Rotsko was celebrated Wednesday at Longmeadow High School. Or at least he was supposed to be. In true Rotsko fashion, the coach spent time remembering the people and stories that will stick with him forever, regardless of his location.

He remembered Spencer Kimball, the player who practiced all season to play only on Thanksgiving Day because religious beliefs prevented him from playing on Fridays and Saturdays.

Or the one about Niko Sierra, who played the majority of the Lancers’ 21-0 Super Bowl victory over Leominster in 2007 with a broken foot. Sierra, a running back and linebacker, didn’t have the heart to tell Rotsko, who was fired up about proving wrong a report in the Worcester Telegram that questioned the toughness of kids from Longmeadow.

He remembered the 80-55 win over Minnechaug in 2008, which, as Rotkso puts it, was simply, “unforgettable.”

Or the time his team was receiving their Super Bowl rings at a ceremony in school and a student asked one of the players the cost of the rings. The player’s reply: “About nine months of hard work.”

Even this year’s win at Gillette Stadium: “I won’t remember the game,” he said. “But the whole scene going to the stadium, walking past the Patriots, the sights and sounds and seeing the Patriots watch us play.”

Rotsko leaves Longmeadow football in terrific shape. The system has worked for years and St. George returns with 25 years of experience and a complete coaching staff.

“I think with Nick stepping in, it’ll be a natural transition,” he said. “He’s been around here longer than I have and knows the town, the people and the system. I don’t imagine he’s going to change a lot of things.”

The Lancers also return a large chunk of their 11-2 Western Mass. Division I Super Bowl championship team. Frankie Elder, who powered Longmeadow in the Super Bowl victory as quarterback, will return to his normal position and be the featured back in the team’s Wing-T offense. John Falcone, the incoming junior quarterback who missed nearly the entire 2011 season because of an injury, will enter camp as one of the top passing threats in Western Mass.

The only thing that will change, it seems, is the man roaming the sidelines.

“Right now, it’s about keeping the kids hungry and keeping the desire to excel and keep doing what we’re doing,” St. George said. “You can’t replace Alex Rotsko but we’re going to do the best job we can.”

Rotsko leaves Longmeadow with a lot of wins and only one regret. He wishes he would have enjoyed the run more.

“My biggest regret is not slowing down, relaxing and enjoying it,” he said. “It’s game after game, practice after practice, year after year. And, all of a sudden, it’s 19 years later and it’s done. You look back and say, ‘why didn’t you enjoy it more’ but you get focused on what you’re doing and that’s how it is.

“But, on a night like this, you get to look back and remember everything.”

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