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Sports

November 26, 2013

Make or break a day of thanks

Amesbury coach knows every side of holiday rivalry

(Continued)

Amesbury was 1-2 in its final three games this season after learning it fell short of the playoffs with a 3-4 record.

“We were obviously disappointed that we didn’t make it to the playoffs,” Connors said. “We’re in a situation now where we lost a couple of games down the stretch, and we’re looking to turn it around.”

In looking for motivation for this year’s team, Connors has referenced his 2003 team, which completed a losing season with the team’s first Thanksgiving Day victory since 1996. That victory started an era of marked success for the Indians on Thanksgiving Day. From 2003 to 2008, they won four of six holiday rivalry games.

“It had been so long since we won on Thanksgiving, so that 2003 game is a positive memory,” Connors said. “If you win, it’s always a great day. That’s what I tell the seniors. If you win as a senior on Thanksgiving, then you win for the rest of your life. Nobody can take that away from you because, most likely, it’s the last game you’ll play.”

If one theme has emerged in the Amesbury-Newburyport rivalry during the Connors coaching era, it’s that each team seems to save a trick play for the holiday game. Connors said he started the tradition as an assistant on Gaudiano’s staff.

“It started as more of a fun thing to give the players a break with the extra week of preparation,” Connors said. “It gave them something new to think about. One year, we lined up in the Georgetown spread, with our entire offense spread across the field. I used to tell the coaches when I was on (Gaudiano’s) staff that I had a trick play to call at some point in the game. That’s continued, but it’s probably not as much as people think. Sometimes, you get it in, and sometimes you don’t.”

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