ABINGTON, Mass. -- If there’s any coach in the state that is familiar with the peaks and valleys of a given program, let alone a single game, it’s Abington’s Jim Kelliher.
“I had the 0-for-10s, and I have also come around and had some 10-0s,” said Kelliher, who became the 40th coach in state history Friday night to earn his 200th victory in his 37th year as head coach of the Green Wave. “But, at the same time, the most important thing is the kids themselves, how much they played each and every game.”
Abington’s 20-12 win over Bishop Feehan was emblematic of the up-and-down nature of the business, and Kelliher showed humility and gratitude after his team pulled out the victory.
“It’s exciting, I’m thrilled,” Kelliher said. “My coaching staff has been great. We’ve now been together for a long time. We know each other well. The kids respect them a lot. … They’ve certainly helped my cause getting to the 200 wins the last eight or nine years, because they’ve been a little bit better than the years beforehand.”
Indeed, since 2001, the Green Wave has won at least a share of seven South Shore League titles and two Super Bowls. Over the last five seasons, Abington is 52-8 and has not dropped a home game since 2004 (a 30-23 defeat to Cohasset).
That last streak looked to be in jeopardy late against Feehan, however. The Green Wave jumped out to a 14-0 halftime lead on touchdown runs by seniors Dylan Pietrasik (79 yards rushing, 2 TDs) and John Lane (143 yards rushing, TD), only to see it nearly disappear in the fourth quarter as two Andrew Murphy-to-William Firth (119 yards receiving) touchdown connections cut the deficit to 14-12.
But Abington answered with a 14-play, 67-yard drive that chewed up almost eight minutes off the clock and ended with a Pietrasik 19-yard score on a draw play on third and 15. Feehan’s last drive stalled at the Abington 47-yard line, and Abington captains Ryan Southerland and Connor Fraser doused Kelliher with the Gatorade bucket moments later.
“He's been in it a long time, 37 years,” Lane said of Kelliher. “He's a great coach. We got it in for him, 200 wins. It's awesome.”
“I love being here. It’s my hometown,” Kelliher said. “I played on this field. I grew up in this area. I stayed here. I taught here.”
And after 37 years, Kelliher has endured both the 0-10s and 10-0s to achieve a rare milestone there.