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By James Kinneen
Hometown Weekly Reporter
Maybe the pregame bonfire Needham High School held to motivate their athletes had the Rockets a little too fired up before they played Wellesley for the Gorman Cup, leading to the heated exchanges that resulted in the game being called early.
While the game didn’t go the way the Rockets would have liked, the bonfire went swimmingly. After the police used a flare to light a large stack of pallets in the school parking lot, the dance team and cheer teams performed, and the football team’s seniors were invited onstage to speak. Junior Lauren Biedron was in charge of the event and noted that no matter what happens on the football field, the bonfire is a definite advantage Needham has over their age-old rivals.
“This is our third year," she explained. "We just really want to start the tradition of having a bonfire to build spirit for the Thanksgiving game and hype up the rivalry between Wellesley and Needham. It’s a really fun way to celebrate our athletes as a separate way, rather than a pep rally which celebrates the whole school, so the bonfire is kind of just to celebrate football, dance and cheer as one big event together. I don’t believe Wellesley does a bonfire, so we’re better than them, in that sense.”
After the bonfire, everyone was welcomed inside the cafeteria, where they could play ping pong, “Just Dance” and meet members of the football team. Here, Tyler Reid spoke of how proud he is of the team and the effort they put in this year, despite their record.
“We were 2-8 this year, but personally, I believe our record doesn’t really define us. The way we work at practice, we’re able to play these teams and get really close, with some games coming down to last second field goals against undefeated teams. Other games, after a loss we don’t feel as good, but we still bring the energy in practice. That’s what I really love about this team. We don’t give up. We still keep going. Wellesley is a great team, but they haven’t seen how much we’ve been working and how ready we are for this game.”
At the bonfire, every player that got to go onstage was introduced with a song that they picked themselves. Reid chose “Five More Minutes” by Scotty McCreery, noting that: “It’s pretty much talking about how life goes by so fast and you wish you could just rewind it, have that rewind button, and have five more minutes. It made it a lot more real when I heard that song playing.”
In his final game for the Rockets, it’s a shame both he and his team (especially the seniors) watched their dwindling time on the field cut short. Still, the team will always have the memories they made on the field, and for three years at least, at the pregame bonfire.