Dr. John Boyle may know more about broken bones than broken plays, but he has watched quite a bit of Beverly High School football over the years.
Boyle, an orthopedic surgeon who works out of North Shore Center for Orthopedic Surgery in Danvers, has been Beverly’s official team doctor for more than 25 years.
He’s watched a lot of the Beverly football teams play from the sidelines, and this particular group ranks at the top of the list.
Boyle will take his usual spot on the Panther sidelines tonight when they battle Burlington (7:45 p.m.) on the road in a Division 2A playoff game.
“Well, I’ve seen every team since the late 1980s and that 1988 team was a great team. That team went undefeated and went to the Super Bowl,” Boyle remembered. “I think this team is better. They have more weapons and I think the offense is more diversified. They have a really good kicker, if it comes down to that, and their special teams play has been really good, too.”
Boyle keeps a low profile on the sideline, choosing to blend in as much as possible, but he’s actually a high profile doctor for a high school team.
Boyle spent 14 years serving as the Boston Bruins team doctor, and another two years as the New England Patriots team doctor. He worked with the Bruins from 1983 through 1997, and with the Patriots in 1983-84.
As the Beverly team doctor, Boyle is expected to be at all home games, and he makes it to most games on the road as well.
He is only part of the medical coverage required for a high school football game, but his role remains limited unless there is a serious injury.
“To be honest, virtually all the responsibility and the hands-on stuff is done by the athletic trainer,” Boyle said. “Charla (Bouranis, Beverly’s athletic trainer) runs the show and makes things happen for 99 percent of the things that go on. The role of the team doctor is pretty limited. We have a responsibility to be there and cover the games, but there is EMT backup. It’s nice to have a physician around for the things on the field that are serious, the injuries to the head and neck, dislocations, and maybe fractures.”
The Panthers have obviously been very good this year, as their 11-0 record will attest. That record also may not have been possible if it weren’t for a little luck, especially when it comes to injuries.
“They’ve been extremely fortunate,” Boyle agreed. “They’ve had very few injuries, and in particular no injuries to key players. They’ve been very lucky.”
In a game as physical as football, it’s unusual for a team to avoid getting hit hard by the injury bug.
Head and neck injuries have been the hot-button topic around all levels of football for the past few years.
Boyle is encouraged by the adjusted approach to head injuries.
“I think the key to the head injury issue has been awareness. There’s so much more information that’s come out now about head injuries and the consequences of head injuries,” Boyle said. “Everyone is much more aware, and the guidelines of head injuries have changed. It’s way more strict in terms of evaluating an injured player and returning that player to the playing field.”
Boyle can’t predict when injuries will occur and, even though he likes Beverly’s chances of winning tonight, he can’t be sure about the Panthers advancing to the Super Bowl.
“Well, I would like to think they’ll win and move on, but talking to some people who have seen Burlington play the one comment I keep hearing is that they’re big,” Boyle said. “They’ll have their hands full, but this is a team that I think can get the job done. They are definitely going to come to play.”