Every now and then, a football player will have the chance to redeem himself almost immediately.
Jackson Conners-McCarthy knows a little something about that.
In the club football championship for The League, Conners-McCarthy of the Brooks School followed a drop with the game-winning touchdown catch to help power his North Shore Cobras to a 13-7 overtime win over the South Shore Dragons.
It was an exciting finish to the first year of The League, the brainchild of former Buckinhham, Browne & Nichols coach John Papas.
The score was tied at 7 in the fourth quarter, and Conners-McCarthy made a spectacular, one-handed, 23-yard reception on a pass from Hudson Weidman to put the ball just outside of the red zone. However, on fourth down, Weidman went back to Conners-McCarthy, and the tight end/safety dropped what could have been the game-winner.
“More than kicking myself (for the drop),” Conners-McCarthy said. “I was running off this sideline, (and) I thought it was over. But the team rallied around us. It was such a good atmosphere, it really was. We turned it around the second we went back on the sideline and talked it over.”
The League’s overtime rules called for one shot from each offense at the 3-yard line. The Cobras stuffed a run attempt by Dragons quarterback Christopher Milmoe of Belmont Hill. On the Cobras’ turn, Weidman of Pingree rolled right and found Conners-McCarthy in the back of the end zone to set off a wild celebration.
It was a bit of deja vu for the Cobras.
“No, it wasn’t drawn up (to come to me), but I had a feeling,” Conners-McCarthy said. “That was the first time we scored in the year. I ran a corner route from the 2-yard line. And then, it figures, it was the last play.”
The game was not an offensive showcase, as both teams scored a touchdown in the second quarter. The Cobras took the lead on a 1-yard touchdown run by Matthew Morris of Rivers. But the Dragons soon tied it on an 11-yard touchdown run on a reverse to Michael Ahonen of Belmont Hill.
The defenses stood tall after that, as Cobras defensive lineman Nikhil Webb-Walker of Ipswich had two sacks. Bruising Dragons running back Damien Garcia of St. George’s led all rushers with 68 yards on 11 carries.
Papas believes The League is here to stay.
“One hundred percent. We have had no complaints at all,” Papas said. “The players, the parents . . . Listen, these kids love football, and they’ve got a chance to play football this spring when the majority are private school kids who did not get to play football. It’s been phenomenal, and the public school kids who really love football and came out after their season, they have enjoyed it. It’s crazy. I know it sounds impossible, but we really had 100 percent customer satisfaction. It’s been unbelievable.”
Count Conners-McCarthy as one of the satisfied customers.
“I definitely think it’s here to stay,” he said. “It was the most fun league I could have played in the spring, honestly. I’m so grateful for it. It was great. It was set up great. It was run perfectly, great coaches. It was awesome.”
Asked if he will be back next year, Conners-McCarthy said, “Yeah, probably.” He quickly corrected himself. “Definitely, actually.”
NORTH SHORE COBRAS 13, SOUTH SHORE DRAGONS 7
Cobras 0 7 0 0 6 — 13
Dragons 0 7 0 0 0 — 7
C — Matthew Morris 1 run (Christian Carretero kick)
D — Michael Ahonen 11 run (Avery Ravech kick)
C — Jackson Conners-McCarthy 3 pass from Hudson Weidman (no attempt)