By Chris Coyle
That’s how long it will be, come this Friday, September 10, since the full allegiance of Green Wave fans have gotten a chance to cheer on the Abington High School football team in person.
Of course, that last time was the ultimate thrill, when Abington captured the Division 7 State Championship at Gillette Stadium turf on a frigid Saturday morning.
The Green Wave put together a solid campaign in the Fall 2 season of 2020, falling in the South Shore League Championship game to Middleboro. But most fans were forced to watch those games via Abington Community Access & Media, as pandemic social distancing rules limited the number able to attend in-person.
During a scrimmage against Sandwich High two weeks ago, the excitement from the Abington players, as well as from the fans that were in attendance, was noticeable.
Even Head Coach Jim Kelliher, starting his 48th year at the helm, was excited after the scrimmage, although he tried to hedge his enthusiasm by acknowledging that it’s his second year coaching during a pandemic.
“Very excited, I don’t want to show it though, as you never know what’s going to happen,” he said. “It could be shut down any day, but we’re back to a sense of normalcy. We’re happy to be back playing, here on Memorial Field.”
Kelliher said the scrimmage was a good chance to see how the team is progressing and explain the coaching staff’s expectations.
“We want to see the kids going full speed, from the snap to the whistle. If we work hard, and make mistakes, we’ll talk about it and fix it. Make sure you encourage your teammates and communicate,” he said.
This season will bring a change to most Abington High School sports as they change divisions within the South Shore League (Tobin to Sullivan) and also move up a division within the state. This change puts the football team in Division 6 for the 2021 season.
Kelliher deflected questions about expectations for the season, preferring to focus on the here and now.
The 2021 Green Wave features more starters than the average year, including returning QB Eddie Reilly. The passing attack looked to be working well on Saturday, which Kelliher acknowledged, but he also added that “you have to go into the season with a mental attitude about running the ball.”
Kelliher starts the season within striking distance of a major EMass football milestone – 300 wins. His Green Wave teams have so far racked up 290 victories – a successful season would allow Kelliher to accomplish that milestone this fall. Naturally, he doesn’t think the accomplishment is that important.
“It’s something that I have to think about, but it doesn’t mean anything to me personally,” he said. “The biggest thing that puts a smile on my face is my coaching staff and how they interact with the kids here. My entire staff (Freshman – Varsity teams) is awesome, they really and truly are.”
The Green Wave will kick off its regular-season schedule under the lights at Memorial Field vs. Cohasset on September 10. The annual Thanksgiving Day rivalry game against Whitman Hanson — which was cancelled for the first time in more than a century last year – is scheduled for Thursday, Nov. 25 at 10 a.m.
2021 Regular Season Schedule
Date/Time Opponent Location Friday, Sept. 10 @ 7 p.m. vs. Cohasset Memorial Field
Friday, Sept. 17 @ 7 p.m. vs. Apponequet Memorial Field
Friday, Sept. 24 @ 7 p.m. vs. North Quincy Memorial Field
Friday, Oct. 1 @ 6 p.m. @ Dennis-Yarmouth Dennis-Yarmouth Regional HS
Friday, Oct. 8 @ 7 p.m. vs. Rockland Memorial Field
Friday, Oct. 15 @ 7 p.m. @ East Bridgewater East Bridgewater Jr-Sr HS
Thursday, Oct. 21 @ 7 p.m. vs. Middleboro Memorial Field
Friday, Oct. 29 @ 7 p.m. @ Norwell Norwell HS
Thursday, Nov. 25 @ 10 a.m. @ Whitman-Hanson Whitman-Hanson
[Disclosure: Chris Coyle is a member of the Abington School Committee]