Foxboro head football coach Jack Martinelli experienced a lot of varying emotions late in Friday’s game against Canton.
His team was on the verge of making him the seventh coach in state history to win 300 games, but that wasn’t the only thing on his mind. He was thinking of his players and rejoicing in the fact that they could no longer have to worry about doing something for him.
“I’d be lying if I said I didn’t know what (the accomplishment) meant,” Martinelli said after the 35-0 victory. “But I was more mindful of the kids at that time. Now that this is off their plates, they can experience their own ride from here on out and not worry about (the 300 wins).”
In the middle of a special achievement, Martinelli was more concerned about his players instead of himself. Brad Sidwell has been coaching in the Hockomock League since 1994 at Franklin and now at Taunton. He says Martinelli is a legend both on and off the field.
“I look forward to running into him at league meetings, scouting or off-season 7-on-7’s,” Sidwell said. “It is always a great interaction and the football discussion is secondary to updates on children, family, etc.”
The annual Mansfield-Foxboro Thanksgiving Day game is generally one of the more hotly contested tilts on the schedule. As much as the teams have waged battles over the years, Mike Redding, who has coached at Mansfield since 1988, holds his counterpart in the highest regard.
“What Jack has done over the last four decades has been amazing,” said Redding, who is 11 wins shy of 300. “To be the smallest school in a very good league and achieve their level of success year in and year out is a result of his leadership and getting the best out of every player he coaches.
“Despite the rivalry and competition we have become good friends and it’s an honor to coach against him every Thanksgiving. He won’t take any credit but this is a great honor for him and all his former players.”
While Redding has been the Hockomock League coach who has competed against Martinelli the longest, King Philip’s Brian Lee has known the coaching legend as long as anyone. Lee met Martinelli when he was a toddler going to the Bay State Camp that his father (former Walpole coaching icon John Lee) and Martinelli worked at together.
“Jack has never changed one bit,” Lee said. “It’s good to know that while everything in football changes, to have a steady influence like Jack still around gives you a sense of comfort.
“When you think about 300 wins, I can’t even fathom what goes into it. Just think about all the practices, all the games and all the little things that go along with coaching. Then think about the countless lives he has impacted along the journey.”
As for when the ride ends, Martinelli himself has no number in mind. That being said, he knows exactly when that day will come.
“My son Brian asks me that same question at the start of every season,” Martinelli said. “I give him the same answer that I always do. Once the kids stop responding to what you want them to commit to, then the message becomes loud and clear that it’s time to move on.
“I haven’t got that message, especially with the effort these kids have given me.”
Mansfield and Foxboro are planning a special Military Appreciation Event on Thanksgiving as part of the annual Mansfield-Foxboro game.
With Foxboro and Gillette Stadium hosting the Army-Navy football game for the first time in history on Saturday, Dec. 9, Mansfield thought this would be a great time for its event. The Mansfield players will wear a military-style green game shirt with a design that will celebrate the past uniforms of the West Point Academy and Foxboro will wear a white game jersey similar to the uniform styles of the US Naval Academy.
On the back of the jersey will be the names of veterans who have served the nation so bravely, including Gold Star veterans who died in service to their nation, veterans who received the Purple Heart for being injured in service and some veterans who were members of the Mansfield High School football program as students and then served in the armed forces. After the game, these game jerseys will be donated to the veterans or the families of the veterans as a remembrance for their sacrifices to the nation.
1. St. John’s Prep (7-0): If there was any doubt who belongs in the top spot, the Eagles erased that last Saturday.
2. Catholic Memorial (4-2): The Knights will have to regroup in a hurry with the postseason on the horizon.
3. Xaverian (5-2): Hawks have little trouble in disposing of Malden Catholic.
4. King Philip (7-0): Year in and year out, the Warriors always find a way to get the job done in a big Hockomock League showdown.
5. Billerica (7-0): One of these years, the Indians are going to break down in Division 3 and this could be the year.
6. Needham (6-1): Real good road win against a vastly improved Weymouth squad.
7. Lincoln-Sudbury (6-1): Six straight wins for the Warriors.
8. Everett (6-1): Interesting matchup this week against a Lynn Classical team that has offensive weapons.
9. Hanover (7-0): Hawks just keep on rolling this season.
10. Duxbury (5-1): Another team that is peaking at the right time.
11. Milford (6-1): Hung tough with King Philip but couldn’t make enough plays.
12. Methuen (5-2): If Friday’s final minute didn’t age head coach Tom Ryan, nothing will.
13. Andover (6-1): Much props to the Golden Warriors who have embraced the Central Catholic challenge and succeeded for the second straight year.
14. Marshfield (5-2): Really like the way the Rams are progressing as the season wears on.
15. Mansfield (4-3): Hornets are proving that playing a tough early schedule pays dividends in the long run.
16. Foxboro (6-1): We didn’t want to get on Brian Martinelli’s bad side.
ON THE BENCH: BC High (5-2), Franklin (5-2), Central Catholic (2-5), Barnstable (6-1), Bishop Feehan (6-1), Peabody (7-0), Winchester (6-1), Dartmouth (7-0), Walpole (4-3), Milton (5-2), Tewksbury (5-2), Shawsheen (7-0)