SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

Sports

June 22, 2013

Foes Now Friends: Area players excited for today's Shriners Classic

There are many challenges facing the players selected to play in the Shriner’s High School Football Classic every year. Today’s contest (4 p.m. at Bentley University in Waltham) is no different.

For one thing, it’s not easy to quickly get back into the swing of things on the gridiron after spending almost six months away from the game. Adjusting to a new coaching staff and different teammates with very little time to build team chemistry doesn’t help the cohesion. Then, of course, there’s the difficulty a player has in finding his role, even if it’s for a one-game showcase.

One thing that doesn’t bother these young athletes is lining up with players who they were forced to battle against for the last four years.

Take the Marblehead and Beverly representatives, for example.

The Magicians’ Ian Maag and Ty Bates butted heads with Beverly’s Mike Dooling and Brendan Flaherty for the last three years, desperately trying to knock the other team out of the Northeastern Conference title chase.

Do those heated contests cause any residual damage?

“No, not at all. They’re a bunch of great guys and (Beverly) coach Dan Bauer does a great job with the team,” Maag said. “They’re great football players and there’s no trash talking.

“It’s nice for them to be on our side rather than going against them. I’ve met a lot of new kids and people that are great guys. That’s one of the best things about Shriner’s.”

Maag, Bates, Dooling, and Flaherty will join forces on a North team coached by Bauer and including several other North Shore football talents. They’ll meet the South in the 35th Annual Shriner’s High School Football Classic.

“It’s a great bunch of guys, very friendly,” said the 6-foot, 225-pound, Springfield College-bound Dooling said. “We’ve bonded over the past two weeks.”

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