Chieftains End Season on High Note

Published in the December 3, 2008 issue of The Stow Independent

By Jordana Bieze Foster

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A team that gets distracted by the gaudy numbers of a single player is an upset waiting to happen, even when the opponent hasn't won a game in two seasons. But in the Thanksgiving Day rivalry game between Nashoba Regional and North Middlesex, the only people worried about Nashoba's single-season rushing record were up in the press box. Down on the field, the Chieftains were focused solely on winning.

No new records were set that day, as senior running back Travis Patterson finished 25 yards shy of last year's single-season total. But Patterson and the Chieftains held off the scrappy host Patriots for a 42-12 victory, their third in a row, and finished the season with a winning record at 6-5.

“Winning on Thanksgiving is always a big deal, even if the team you're playing is 0 and 10,” said senior team captain Matt Murray of Stow. “We're rivals, so you just throw the records out the window.”

Fittingly, the Nashoba seniors came up big in the final game of their high school careers. Patterson, who was named the Chieftains' offensive MVP, rushed for 145 yards and three touchdowns behind a dominant offensive line that included fellow seniors Dan Trefry of Stow, captain Ryan Williams and Rodney Leach. Backfield mate Steve Ek chipped in 88 rushing yards and a touchdown of his own. Paul Murray of Stow scooped up a fumble on the Patriots' first play from scrimmage and ran it 34 yards for a touchdown. And Matt Murray—who was also named the Chieftains' defensive MVP—matched his brother's scoring total with the Chieftains' last touchdown of the game, a one-yard push up the middle at the beginning of the fourth quarter.

“This senior class, from the three captains on down, has been outstanding,” said Nashoba head coach Ken Tucker. “They are a great bunch of kids, so I'm happy they'll go out on a high note.”

Next year's seniors made contributions of their own. Junior kicker Jim Garvey was perfect on six extra points and made two big special-teams tackles that likely kept the Patriots from getting back in the game. And Dan Fenstermaker recovered a fumble on the opening kickoff that set up Patterson's first touchdown.

It was a match-up between two teams whose seasons had not exactly gone according to plan. The Patriots, who went winless in 2007, had hoped to better that record with Sandy Ruggles' return to the helm. The Chieftains, who grabbed a share of the league title a year ago but missed out on the playoffs, had aspirations of an extended season this time around. Midseason injuries to several key players, including Patterson and Ek, threw those plans off course, and the Chieftains found themselves at 3-5 with three games remaining.

“It was tough, because we had high expectations,” Matt Murray said. “Maybe other teams at that point would have thought their season was over, that there was nothing to play for. But being part of a program like Nashoba, we decided that our goal was to get back to a winning record. We won three straight, and it was a fun time. I'm going to miss it.”

For the record, Patterson finished the season with 1380 rushing yards, giving him 2785 in the last two years and the top two single-season totals in Nashoba history. After those two run-happy seasons, next year's Chieftains are likely to pass more, given that quarterback Will Hurley of Stow will already have a year of experience under center.

“Nashoba will be good next year,” Murray said. “Watch out for Will Hurley. Remember he's only a sophomore (this year) and has really come on in the last half of the season. There are some good running backs coming up too that people don't even know about.”

Copyright 2008 Jordana Foster – 24 Kirkland Dr, Stow, MA – Email: – Fax: (815) 346-5239