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September 2, 2010

Living Legend

Welch became an Ipswich institution in his 37 years on sidelines

(Continued)

The 1980s were up and down; there were some very good Tiger teams, but also some tough years — including an 0-10 mark in 1987.

But good things were on the horizon. A young Ipswich team went 4-6 in 1990, but tore through the competition the following fall to go 10-2, win the school's first CAL crown in 14 seasons and topple Dom Savio, 33-14, for Welch's second Super Bowl championship.

The highlight of that season was a thrilling 13-12 Thanksgiving Day victory over Hamilton-Wenham, a game in which the winner would win the league and advance to the playoffs. To secure the one-point win, Ipswich blocked a last-minute field goal attempt, then tackled the kicker (H-W's Mike McGowan) just short of the goal line after he picked up the blocked kick.

"Jack always had a way of challenging you to be a better person," said Woodworth. "And with all the hard nosed kids we had, he found the best way to utilize them to help the team as a whole."

One of Welch's favorite parts of coaching was after the game, when he could wind down, review what had just happened and sit back with satisfaction after a job well done. He'd often do so in a cluttered science room inside Ipswich High, ruminating about the sport he loved among the beakers and test tubes to reporters fortunate enough to learn from the great gridiron teacher.

Another Super Bowl followed in 1992, capped off by what Welch says is the game he remembers most: the wild 40-33 Division 4B Super Bowl triumph over visiting Hull on a frigid day at Doyon Stadium in Ipswich. It remains the only game in Massachusetts playoff history in which both halves began with a touchdown off the opening kickoff.

"There was snow all around the field and a huge crowd there, supposedly ready to see two great defenses," chuckled Welch. "There wasn't much defense that day; we just had a little more firepower than them."

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