Raiders at the heart of Musumarra family tree

If Trae Musumarra has his way, Thursday will not be his last high school football game.

If Central Catholic beats Thanksgiving Day rival Andover, Musumarra and the Red Raiders will be Merrimack Valley Conference Large champions and live on to play another week – earning a Division I playoff spot.

No matter the outcome of Thursday’s game, his Central Catholic career will eventually come to an end and he’ll have to leave his football family behind.

“I love these guys I play with,” the Red Raiders running back and linebacker said. “If this is the last game … I don’t want this to be our last game. But if this was our last game though, I’m going to miss it, the brotherhood that we have. You come so close together and I love playing with them.”

The parting will be difficult because Musumarra has been around Central Catholic football just about from the time he stepped in Lawrence at 7 years old.

He wasn’t a native son, but he was always a Red Raider.

Ten years ago, Joe and Joan Musumarra adopted Trae along with his older sisters Kendra and Shallana. The Musumarra’s had three biological children, who had already moved away before adopting Trae and his sisters. With an empty nest, the Musumarras missed the joys of having children around the house.

It wasn’t long Joe enrolled Trae in Lawrence’s Pop Warner football program.

“Trae’s father filmed our games for a long time, so he was always around our program growing up,” Red Raiders head coach Chuck Adamopoulos said. “He was a couple years younger than my son [Zac], but I remember them playing in the end zone after games for about as long as I can remember.”

Although Trae was a natural on the football field, it took time to adjust to his new surroundings.

He thinks he was around two years old when his mother gave them up for adoption. The coming years were turbulent. Trae and his sisters (Shallana was 11 at the time and Kendra was 10) were shuttled from one foster home to the next at the pace of about one each year; He remembers moving at least five times.

Trae, now a captain of Central Catholic’s football team, has an easy-going personality and said he never had any problems making friends in school. Yet, the constant changes in locations and schools were trying.

“Where we’d lived before, in the foster home in Greenfield, it was pretty empty, not a lot of people around,” Trae said. “Then, we were moving all the time, leaving your old friends behind and then trying to make new friends. It’s hard doing that all the time as a kid.”

Even as Trae settled in with the Musumarras, it took time for the youngster to feel at ease with his new family.

“Trusting people is a big thing,” he said. “Trust is huge. I was always hesitant about that. I would think, ‘Can I trust them? Are they lying to me?’

“After a while, you start to learn that they’re your family and they love you. It took a while though.”

One of the biggest transitions was getting used to calling Mom and Dad just that.

“After a while, I got comfortable with it and they started being our parents to us,” Trae said. “One day, it just happened. I called them Mom and Dad, and from then on, it kept flowing. Then it was like we had grown up with them all along.”

Trae also took on his new family’s name. He legally changed his surname to Musumarra and, in doing so, joined the line of Musumarras who have donned the Central Catholic uniform.

“He’s really kind of a quiet, laidback kid, but he’s really developed into a great leader,” Adamopoulos said. “He’s a great leader by example. He’s one of our hardest workers. The kids respect him, admire him, and they like him.”

Musumarra burst onto the MVC scene during last year’s Thanksgiving Day game against Andover. He led the Red Raiders to a 35-30 win over the Golden Warriors with the winning score on a 13-yard touchdown catch.

So far this season, the 5-foot-11, 200-pounder has scored 14 touchdowns, despite missing two games due to an ankle injury. Musumarra has also been a critical part of the Red Raiders’ defense at linebacker.

“He brings a lot of speed and he’s a threat offensively every time he touches the ball with a combination of speed and power,” Adamopoulos said. “Defensively, he just has a nose for the ball.

“But he’s very physical when he runs the ball and sometimes when you look at the film from the second half of games, you can see kids shying away from tackling him.”

Musumarra’s now fully recovered from his injury and has shifted his attention to the challenge Andover presents.

“Thanksgiving’s a great holiday and a win would just make it that much better.”