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By Michael Flanagan
Hometown Weekly Sports Editor
Barry Greener has seen it all in his days as a high school football coach in Dover-Sherborn and Walpole. On Thursday, the Rebels (4-7) took to Turco Field under Greener, who will retire following the 2017-2018 academic year, for the final time, as the man who began as an assistant positional coach more than 40 years ago called his final game for Walpole.The storyline heading into the game may have been Barry Greener, but it quickly shifted to Walpole quarterback Brett Lavanchy, who made sure his head coach concluded his tenure at Walpole the right way by throwing for 306 yards and five touchdowns to guide the Rebels to a 42-21 Thanksgiving win over Weymouth (3-8).
Lavanchy’s 306 yards on Thanksgiving propelled him into the record books, as the senior became the second quarterback in the history of Walpole High School football to throw for 2,000 or more yards in a season.
It wasn’t all sunshine and lemonade for the Rebels on Thursday, as Greener’s bunch faced a bit of early adversity, surrendering a 73-yard touchdown run on Weymouth’s opening drive of the game to fall behind 7-0 before fumbling on their first possession deep in Weymouth territory.
However, senior captain Daniel O’Leary responded for the Rebels with a 45-yard scoop-and-score to tie the game at seven with 4:33 remaining in the first quarter. The Walpole defense capitalized off the momentum from the O’Leary touchdown and forced a three-and-out on Weymouth’s ensuing possession. Lavanchy then cashed in with a nine-yard touchdown pass to Drew Von Klock in the opening minute of the second quarter to give the Rebels their first lead of the game at 14-7.
With 2:01 remaining in the half, Lavanchy again hooked up with Von Klock for his second touchdown of the afternoon, this time from five yards out to extend the Walpole lead to 20-7 (PAT no good). Weymouth responded with a 50-yard touchdown pass on their next possession to cut it to a 20-14 game with just 39 seconds to play, but the Wildcats made a critical mistake leaving time on the board for Lavanchy and the Rebel offense. On Walpole’s ensuing possession, Lavanchy was poetic, leading the Rebels down the field in just three plays and connecting with Von Klock once again for his third touchdown of the quarter from 12 yards out with just 16 seconds to play until halftime. Lavanchy added a successful two-point try on a quarterback keeper and the Rebels led 28-14 at the half.The Rebels and Wildcats exchanged punts to begin the third quarter, but Lavanchy stuck the dagger into Weymouth with 6:07 remaining in the quarter when he launched up a 52-yard bomb to John O’Meara, who corralled the ball and scampered into the end zone to push the Rebel lead to 35-14.
It appeared as if O’Leary had notched his second defensive touchdown of the day with less than a minute to play in the third quarter when he picked off a Weymouth pass in the end zone and returned it 100 yards for a touchdown. However, a block in the back on the run-back negated the score and kept it at a 21-point led for Walpole. The Rebels retained possession despite the penalty, however.
On the ensuing drive, Lavanchy threw his fifth touchdown pass of the day with 9:08 remaining in the fourth quarter, this time to senior captain Kyle Smith from five yards out to push the lead to 42-14.
Weymouth cut the deficit to 42-21 with 3:53 left, but the Lavanchy-induced damage had already been done, as the Rebels hung on for the 21-point Turkey Day victory to send Coach Greener out with a W. Walpole’s all-time Thanksgiving record against Weymouth now stands at 18-4 and the Rebels have now won six straight over the Wildcats.
For funny and incisive sports analysis, follow Mike Flanagan on his personal Twitter at @fLAno0, or read his blog at www.flannylive.wordpress.com.