Dealing with a 10 point deficit at halftime was the last thing on Norton the spirit of quarterback Matthew Kirrane last Friday night.
His beloved grandfather, Robert Kirrane, was discharged from hospice care to spend the last hours of his life at home with his loved ones.
Determined not to let his grandfather and his team down, Kirrane somehow found the resolution to rally his team. He threw for 167 yards and two touchdowns in the final 24 minutes as the Lancers hit back to win Canton, 19-10.
“When my family told him we won, they told me he was smiling,” Kirrane said of his grandfather, who died the next morning. “My motivation throughout the game was to do this for him.”
Norton head coach Jim Artz wasn’t surprised Kirrane was able to deliver in such a difficult situation. He has known for some time that Kirrane was going through a difficult emotional time, but insists he maintained a tough exterior throughout the ordeal.
“He never suggested to his teammates that his grandfather was in hospice care,” Artz said. “Matthew kept me updated all the time and we got extremely close during that time.”
One thing that kept Kirrane going was the mantra his grandfather repeated over and over again: Hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard. Artz said that no player in the show embodies this better than his caller.
“Matthew has an unparalleled work ethic,” said Artz. “You won’t surpass him at all. He has a particular tenacity towards him.
That tenacity got him through a football game last week. The hardest part comes on Friday when the family bid their final farewells to a special man. As for playing on Saturday, Kirrane admitted he will have a heavy heart.
“I talked to my family about playing,” Kirrane said. “I think it might have been difficult if we played on Friday night, but since the game is Saturday (Norton will host East Bridgewater at 1pm), I’ll play.”
After all, that’s what Robert Kirrane would have wanted his grandson to do.
In addition to the Norton-East Bridgewater game, And more takes the start Laurent in a 2-0 Merrimack Valley Conference battle.
The Independent Schools League opens its season on Saturday with a slew of games. The marquee game takes place at Belmont Hill where a talented Laurent Academy the team comes to town. Another interesting meeting pit Governor’s Academy To San Sebastian.
As for today, if time permits, the first key competition of the Catholic Central League has Sainte Marie travel to Bishop Feehan. A pair of teams that would like to start their seasons are BC High and Brockton. Neither will have it easy as the Eagles make it to Marshfield and the Boxers head to the Hawk Bowl to meet Xaverian.
Mansfield puts his best 18-game winning streak on the line when he hosts Stoughton, while Central Catholic hopes to return to the victory column when he faces St. John’s (Shrewsbury). Two juicy, highly touted unbeaten clashes are Franklin To Duxbury and Reading To Danvers.