, Newburyport, MA

November 23, 2013

Spillane's sad ending

Area's top back from Triton will be sidelined Thanksgiving

By Tim Lima

---- — Justin Spillane of Triton will not get the experience of playing a final Thanksgiving game.

The Triton senior captain and area’s leading rusher suffered a thumb injury in last week’s loss to Newburyport, an injury that required surgery Thursday. Spillane’s final high school game will prove to be the Newburyport contest, in which Spillane had three carries for a loss of one yard.

Spillane suffered torn ligaments and a hairline fracture of his thumb. He also had to have pins inserted into the thumb in order to keep it together. If Justin had his wish, though, the surgery would have been delayed until after Thanksgiving.

“I asked the doctor if I could have surgery after the Thanksgiving game so I could play,” Spillane said. “The doctor said no because if I played with the injury, I may never be able to move my thumb again.”

Spillane likely pondered the idea of playing anyway.

While the injury is going to keep Spillane on the sidelines for this Thanksgiving Day game against rival Pentucket, he knows that he can still have a positive impact on his team’s success.

“I’m going to be on the sideline,” he said. “Today was my first day back to practice. I am just trying to do what I can to get the team ready. On Thursday, I am going to be on the sideline cheering them on and helping them to win by doing anything possible.”

This type of maturity and team-first approach earned him great praise from Triton head coach Pat Sheehan.

“(Justin’s) a captain for us,” said Sheehan. “He’s come a long way maturity-wise. He was a tremendous leader on and off the field this year. He has been a vocal leader and a leader by example, a hard worker. He’s like a coach on the field cheering on our running backs during practice. He has come a long way as a person this year. “

Last year’s season was a rough first year in varsity football for Spillane. The team struggled, and capped off a losing season with a 40-12 loss on Thanksgiving at the hands of Pentucket. It was that season’s rough ride that created a lasting memory for Spillane this season.

“My favorite memory from my football career has to be how we came out this year after last year’s bad season,” Spillane said. “Coming out this year, we came out as a team. It was a great feeling knowing that we were all together.”

Triton began the season outscoring their first two opponents 77-14.

Though unable to suit up on Thursday, Spillane knows what the focus of his team should be heading into its matchup with Pentucket.

“Last year before Thanksgiving we had a bye week,” Spillane said. “We allowed ourselves to be unfocused. We have to stay focused this year. We have to keep our offense moving down the field and have our defense step up for us.”

The loss of Spillane will be tough to overcome for Triton, who was a large supplier of offensive production for the Vikings. Spillane could touch the ball upwards of 20 times per game, rushing and catching the football. On the season, Spillane had 160 carries for 921 yards, 15 catches for 211 yards and had 13 touchdowns as well as a two-point conversion.

“Its a huge blow,” said Sheehan. “Justin carried the ball 18 to 20 times per game and was one of our best players. It’s not going to be easy to replace him. It’s going to take a big team effort.”

After Spillane’s exit in last week’s game against Newburyport, Triton struggled to get out of its own way on offense. The Vikings were shut out 14-0 in a game where the Vikings never exceeded the opponents 20-yard-line and turned the ball over four times.

Spillane's season Carries 160 Rushing yards 921 Receptions 15 Receiving yards 221 Touchdowns 13 Points 80