Ipswich High defensive tackle Dakota Petrie had to earn a starting spot on the Tigers’ defense this season.
One of the guys he’s geared up to stop on Thanksgiving morning, Hamilton-Wenham quarterback Jack Clay, had to earn respect after replacing Trevor Lyons, arguably the greatest signal caller in Generals’ football history.
Both seniors have flown under the radar this season, but have each also impressed their respective coaches with high character and relentless passion.
“Dakota has a strong work ethic. He’s worked and willed himself into a starting position,” said Tigers (2-8) head coach Greg Brotherton, whose team will host Hamilton-Wenham (4-6) at Jack Welch Stadium in their annual Turkey Day matchup. “He’s not a kid with a lot of talent, but he has a motor that doesn’t quit. He’s a good kid who loves to play the game.”
Clay, meanwhile, has had the tough task of being the guy to try and fill Lyons’ P.F. Flyers. He doesn’t have the speed or elusiveness of his predecessor, but has shown the ability to manage the game quite nicely.
“Considering he’s a first-year QB who’s thrown for over 1,000 yards, I think it’s remarkable,” said H-W head coach Andrew Morency. “A lot of teams load guys in the box against us and force Jack to beat them. He’s very coachable and learns from his mistakes. He throws to a spot and manages the game very well.”
Petrie plays a far less glamorous position with a job that goes unnoticed to most football fans. As the interior defensive tackle who lines up on the outside shoulder of the opposing guard, his primary obligation is to keep guys off the linebackers.
When teams have tried to block him one-on-one, Petrie has shown the ability to penetrate and blow the play up, forcing most teams to double-team him. That leaves Tigers middle linebacker Derek Chamberlain free to roam and make plays.