“Jim played for me, and it’s not surprising he left one brotherhood and went to another,” O’Leary said. “Jim wore No. 35, my old number in high school. Every year, I try to find somebody special for that number, and he was a cornerback like me. Today, we have 35 on all our helmets.”
One of the surprises of the afternoon came when St. John’s Prep senior Tucker Mathers took his No. 35 game shirt off and presented it to Rice’s son, Ryan. O’Leary said that Mathers, who will play football at Tufts next year, is the kind of guy teammates love and respect — just like Rice was.
Following the ceremony, a luncheon was held in Griffin Hall. Ryan Rice and some members of the ‘86 football team then accompanied the Prep captains to the center of the field for the coin toss before the Eagles’ game with Catholic Memorial in a fitting conclusion to the day.