For more than 45 years, there were two football seasons at Bedford High School: the first 10 games, and Thanksgiving vs. Concord-Carlisle.
The annual holiday match ended in 2019. But as the Buccaneers prepare this week for Friday night’s 7 p.m. clash in Concord, it’s not just another opponent on the schedule.
“Everyone is excited,” said BHS Head Coach Tom Tone, whose team won its fifth consecutive game last Friday, 48-19, at home over Cambridge Rindge and Latin. “Every week we put so much time and energy into a game – but this week the history means a little bit more.”
That history has been one-sided since the Bucs’ 35-34 overtime win on Thanksgiving in 2012. “They kicked our heads in my first three years here,” Tone acknowledged. “This year’s seniors were freshmen the last Thanksgiving game – they absolutely rolled us down there.”
“We expect them to be good,” Tone said of the 4-2 Patriots. He added, “We’re playing pretty well.”
Three Dual County League opponents over the past three weeks would agree. They fell to Bedford High by a combined score of 135 to 40.
Last Friday Bedford made its own breaks to take an insurmountable 42-7 lead at halftime. Indeed, the Bucs were ahead 4-0 before Cambridge ran a play on offense. “Couldn’t ask for a better start,” Tone observed.
After Jayvon Williams returned the opening kickoff to midfield, the Bucs consumed less than 90 seconds to take a 7-0 lead. Three short runs, an offsides penalty, and an eight-yard completion brought the ball to the 25, from which senior quarterback Eric Miles raced through the right side of the line and evaded tacklers to the endzone. Senior Nick Tatarczuk added that first of five extra points.
Tatarczuk gets a big assist for the subsequent scoring drive. His squib kickoff bounced off the helmet of a Falcon in the front line, and the Bucs recovered the ball at their 38.
“We were trying to line-drive it – you want it to be low and hard,” Tone explained. When the receiving team’s first wave takes the ball off the helmet on the fly, “there’s not very much you can do.” Later in the game, Tatarczuk kicked twice into the endzone and pooched other kickoffs, all negating returns. “The variety of kicks he can do is pretty impressive,” Tone pointed out.
This time it took three minutes to reach the endzone. The big play was a 25-yard completion from Miles to Stu Livingston on a slant from the left side. Miles, who ended up with six touchdowns in the first half, drove it home from the four.
“We played very well, especially in that first quarter,” Coach Tone said. “When you take a pretty commanding lead, then they feel more pressure that they have to score quickly.”
Cambridge finally began a series, and from the start the Falcons conceded the run. Throughout the Falcons lined up in a spread formation and quarterback Kevin Leal finished with 23 completions in 34 attempts for about 250 yards. The team attempted nine plays designed for the ground.
Coach Tone was impressed with the Falcons’ quarterback and receivers. But he noted, “Statistics can be deceiving. It’s a lot harder to throw it when there’s someone in your face.” The Bucs, he said, “definitely had a big advantage up front.”
During the first half, three Buccaneers intercepted Leal passes – by Richie Fedele, Tatarczuk, and Nelson Crawford. Each turnover led to a Miles touchdown.
Right after his pick, Fedele took a short throw from Miles and refused to go down until he was pushed out of bounds after 15 yards. “That was an exceptional play,” Tone said. Five running plays later, it was 21-0. Owen Brazee added an interception in the fourth quarter.
Bedford led 28-0 before the Falcons broke through on a 38-yard screen pass. The Bucs answered as quickly as they could; Miles rolled wide right from the Bedford 43 on the first play of the next possession and dashed past the defense for the equalizer.
Miles carried 15 times for 190 yards – all in the first half. He played the third quarter, handing off to sophomore running back Drew Siwik, who broke one from 43 yards and later scored from close.