Byline: Jim Wilson
WESTBORO - It's been six months since they've strapped on the football pads, but that won't stop a handful of gridiron greats from getting in a few licks before heading to college.
The Shrine Chowder Bowl Classic is at 7 tonight at Westfield State College, with the best seniors from Central Mass. taking on the best seniors from Western Mass.
For Oakmont's Kyle Anderson, John Griffin and Keith Lorenzen, the game is one last time to put on the Spartans' helmet and celebrate their 11-1 season that culminated in a 28-0 thrashing of Frontier in the Division 3 Super Bowl.
"It was something I was hoping for back in my freshman or sophomore years," Anderson said of the honor of being selected. Anderson, who will line up at free safety tonight, was a Central Mass. Division 3 all-star last fall, throwing for 670 yards and seven touchdowns while rushing for 733 more yards and 12 TDs for Oakmont.
Griffin excelled in three sports this year for the Spartans - football, basketball and track. Griffin was named the Division 3 MVP after rushing for 1,118 yards on 128 carries and 18 touchdowns. He added four more receiving touchdowns to set a school record with 22 TDs. Griffin went on to team with Anderson to lead the basketball squad to the Central Mass. Division 2 semifinals, and he continued his dominance in spring track, retaining his Central Mass. titles in the 100 meters and long jump.
"The first few practices everyone was a little rusty, but you get back into it because it's a quick transition," Griffin said. "Once you get that first hit, you get that little adrenaline rush, and you're right back into it."
Lorenzen cleared a path for the duo throughout the fall at tackle and was named to the Central Mass. Division 3 all-star team. He also joined Griffin on the track team, where the two helped Oakmont to an undefeated dual-meet season.
"Being on this team feels good because it lets you know you're all in the same boat as the rest of these kids," Lorenzen said.
Tonight's game is just another chapter in the rivalry between Central and Western Mass. football teams. Central leads the series 4-1-1, and is coming off a 9-8 win last year at Springfield College.
The Chowder Bowl will not be the last time the two areas will meet, as the decision was made to put the much discussed Central Mass. vs. Western Mass. Super Bowls back on next year. The new format will feature Central vs. Central and Western vs. Western playoff games the Tuesday after...