Friday night, the old colleagues will coach against each other for the first time when St. Mary’s takes a short trip down Revere Beach to Winthrop for a nonleague bout that carries plenty of extra juice for players, coaches, and fans.
“You hear people say all the time that ‘It’s just another game,’” said Cadigan, ” And as much as I would love to say that, I don’t have the same type of relationship with other coaches we play. There’s definitely something there and [Driscoll] has a very good team. There’s a little more that goes into this game than your average Friday night.”
Driscoll is a lifelong Winthrop resident who played under legendary coach Bob DeFelice, spent over 20 years coaching the Vikings, and remains the city’s director of Parks and Recreation. So the veteran coach admits there is some extra significance to his return to Winthrop’s Miller Field, which was renovated in 2018 ahead of Cadigan’s first season as head coach.
“My normal reaction is that it’s just another game, but at the same time, it’s nice to come home,” said Driscoll, who led Winthrop to the D4 North final and a Northeastern Conference championship in 2014.
“I still have a lot of relationships in the community, and a lot of the kids [on Winthrop] work for me during our summer programs. It might be kind of tough for me because I love that community. And me and [Cadigan] have spent a lot of time together, but at the same time, we’re both competitors.”
With help from their respective athletic directors, Cadigan and Driscoll have set up a two-year series between their programs. Both Division 6 contenders are hopeful that the game will boost their power rankings ahead of the state tournament and there is certainly the possibility it becomes an annual rivalry game.
For St. Mary’s senior star David Brown Jr., the game also carries a little extra significance. His father, David Brown Sr., coached Winthrop boys’ basketball for 12 years, and Brown Jr. was on the bench when the Vikings won the D4 state championship in 2011.
Now Brown Jr. is a two-sport star and his father coaches him on the hardwood at St. Mary’s. They led the Spartans to a D3 state title last winter and the reigning Catholic Central League co-MVP looks to follow suit in his last football campaign.
Since Brown Sr. has been a K-9 officer for the Winthrop Police Department for 26 years, Brown Jr. grew up playing youth sports in the town, and he will have many close ties in the stands on Friday.
“I’ve been around Winthrop sports most of my life,” said Brown Jr., the Globe’s Division 6 Player of the Year last football season. “From when I could walk to when my dad stopped coaching there, I’ve almost been to more games in Winthrop than at St. Mary’s. It’s not like a coming home game, but I’ve kind of been waiting to play in this town. It’ll be a good atmosphere.”
In Chelmsford, Lions’ fourth-year coach George Peterson will also face his former team Friday night.
The former University of New Hampshire star and Granite State resident guided Lexington to six playoff berths and two Middlesex Liberty League titles over nine years as head coach before taking the job at Chelmsford.
Since his Lions traveled to Lexington last year, and came away with a 35-20 win, Peterson said the second meeting with his old program should carry less emotion.
“That was an odd experience, being on the visitor sideline after spending so much time on the home sideline at that school,” Peterson recalled.
“This year, after losing the way we did [in Week 1], there’s been no thought of it. I’m four years removed from [Lexington], so there are no kids left who were freshman when I was the coach. We already experienced the sentimental value of it last year. Now we’ve got to get ourselves right here in Chelmsford.”
Yet Driscoll said he knows at least 65 percent of Winthrop’s current players, many of whom work in his youth flag football program as coaches and referees each summer. A few players on the St. Mary’s roster hail from Winthrop, and Cadigan expects a very formidable challenge from a Spartans team that includes tailback Derick Coulanges and reigning CCL lineman of the year Tommy Falasca among other standouts.
With so much familiarity between the head coaches on opposite sidelines, there will be some interesting strategic points to watch in their first matchup.
“What I see right now with [Driscoll’s] team, there are definitely some similarities from the 15 years we were together, and definitely some evolution over the last five years,” said Cadigan.
“As a coach, you don’t want to ‘chase ghosts’ on offense and defense, and expect something that never comes. But I think this game will have something of a Thanksgiving feel in the sense that it’s an opponent we should know better than any other.”