Gillette Stadium Memories
As the New England Patriots head into the Super Bowl this Sunday, I began thinking back to some of the memories I had photographing the Eastern Mass State Finals football championship games at Gillette Stadium, home of the Patriots. For almost all of these kids it was a thrill of a lifetime to play on the same field as Brady, Harrison, Branch and so many other greats had. While the roar of the crowd wasn’t anything like that of any given Sunday, these players played with passion, intensity and a desire to win.
One of the things that I love about photographing high school sports is that there is still that sense of pureness to the way the game is played. Sure, the players showboat and mimic their favorite NFLer but they play for the love of the game that I don’t think can be matched at the collegiate or professional level. Case in point, the Masconomet Chieftains Division 2A Super Bowl game against Marshfield. After getting down 13-0, the Chieftains clawed back into the game with an Evan Bunker touchdown run to cut the lead to 13-6. With the time winding down late in the fourth quarter, the Chieftains drove deep into the Marshfield zone. Bunker scrambled, avoiding the sack, and through a touchdown pass, making it 13-12 as precious time continued tick away. Instead of going for the extra point to tie the game, Masconomet opted for a two point conversion and the win. It was a gutsy call and luck turned out to not be on their side. The pass was broken up in the end zone, ending the Chieftains year.
Here, Evan Bunker and Chris Splinter hug as the Chieftain faithful file out to the exit after the game. The moment was all the more poignant as this was the last time these two, both seniors, would play alongside each other as they had been doing since they were little kids. To me it illustrates the bond forged through tough days of training, long hours spent preparing for their opponents, all with the same common goal, to win.