NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

Sports

November 26, 2013

Make or break a day of thanks

Amesbury coach knows every side of holiday rivalry

AMESBURY — Thom Connors wouldn’t invite himself to Thanksgiving dinner following a loss to Newburyport.

The Amesbury football coach has logged a 5-6 record on Thanksgiving against a team coached by his former mentor, Ed Gaudiano. Between serving as an assistant at Amesbury for five seasons in the 1980s, serving as an assistant another eight years at Newburyport in the 1990s and early 2000s, and then serving as the head coach at Amesbury since 2003, Connors has seen every side of the Thanksgiving rivalry.

“I think my wife and family will say — I don’t want to say I ruined Thanksgiving — but I was very quiet after some of the disappointing losses,” Connors said. “I try not to let it affect the rest of the day, but I can honestly say there have been years where maybe I came home later than my family expected because I was lingering in the locker room or my office.”

Connors has also coached Amesbury to a few Thanksgiving Day victories that kicked off his most memorable holidays for positive reasons. In 2007, 2008 and last season, Amesbury beat Newburyport on Thanksgiving with Cape Ann League Small titles on the line, earning trips to the playoffs. The Indians went on to win the Super Bowl in 2008.

“Those are the ones that probably stick out,” Connors said. “The games that had league titles on the line are the ones you remember. And then, of course, last year I had my son (Tommy) as a senior, so that was a great memory.”

Amesbury snapped a three-game Thanksgiving Day losing streak against Newburyport last season with a 13-10 victory. The Indians will look to collect their second consecutive Thanksgiving Day victory Thursday for the first time since the 2007 and 2008 stretch that culminated in a Super Bowl.

The Indians (4-6) will not be playing for any postseason stakes this season, nor will Newburyport. Amesbury did not qualify for the Division 4 playoffs in the first year of the new system. Newburyport qualified, but fell in the first round to eventual Division 4 champion Bedford.

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