FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- It was the first time since last Thanksgiving's rivalry game since Dracut's Matt Silva and Methuen's Cal Carroll had been on the same gridiron together. But their good friendship off the field didn't prevent ribbing these past two weeks of practice leading up to the Shriners All-Star Game.
"He [Carroll] kept telling me they won 16-12, and I had to remind him we won 19-12 all week," Silva laughed.
Opposite one another, they completed one of the more thrilling second halves from last Thanksgiving morning's slate of historic rivalry games. Together, they were up to the same old freelancing that made them two of the Merrimack Valley's most exciting quarterbacks to watch last fall, all part of a winning effort in the North's last-minute 17-14 win over the South.
En route to the MVC's Offensive Player of the Year honors in 2010, Carroll ran Pat Graham's power-based spread scheme with a chip on his shoulder, often calling his own number on inside zone options and bursting his way through the middle. So it should come as no surprise that with the ball just a few feet short of the goal line with under two minutes to go, Carroll followed Beverly's 310-pound center George Kallas into the end zone on a sneak.
Just like they used to draw it up on Ranger Road, only under center rather than their customary end zone dives out of Tebow-ish formations.
But then again, Carroll noted, "who wouldn't want to be under center when you've got George Kallas in front of you? He's 6-5, 300 pounds or something like that. That whole line wanted nothing more than for the ball to be on the ground."
Carroll, who will play baseball at Stonehill next year, finished with 70 yards on 8 of 12 passing, with two touchdowns. In the first half, he connected with Merrimack-bound running back Anthony Arcari on a screen pass for the team's first touchdown.
"We really put the game in the offensive line's hands on that drive, pounded the ball at the South, pretty much the whole drive" Carroll said. "[We] nickel and dimed it when we had to, with pass plays, and then set up a screen for Anthony Arcari. He has great wheels, maybe the fastest guy in Massachusetts. I didn't make a great pass, but he came down with it and walked into the end zone."
The North's offensive MVP honors went to Revere running back Trae Weathers, but the ebb and flow of the MVC's signal-callers made this all the more fun, between Carroll's toughness between the tackles and Silva's scrambling.
"I thought Carroll and Silva did a great job tonight," North head coach Al Costabile, also of Shawsheen Tech, said. "Our quarterbacks played very composed, our quarterbacks played very well all night, they also ran the ball well tonight. They came up with some timely runs to mix in and keep our offense going. Our kids gave up, and I'm so proud of them."
NO REGRETS FOR SULLIVAN
Jim Sullivan called it a career as head coach of Norwell following the Clippers' Thanksgiving loss to Hanover. In this last season coaching at the Shriners, he was made head coach of the South squad for this final go-around.
And for Sullivan, he couldn't be going out any happier.
"The game's about the kids, always, every game that I'm around in," Sullivan said. "Can't say enough of the heart of our guys. The kids played very well."