MAYNARD -- If you overheard someone talking about Bromfield's football team, you might think they were referring to the soccer team, albeit in European terms. But Littleton served as home to Bromfield football players for many years, until they decided that the interest was beginning to grow steadily within their own school, and they severed ties with the Trojans. Maynard's numbers dwindled to the point that they were forced to forfeit their annual Thanksgiving game with Clinton in 2010 due to five players showing up unable to play.
Something needed to be done, and thus the Bromfield-Maynard cooperative football team was born in May of 2011. Maynard was strapped for numbers at the time, and the Bromfield football players were looking for someone to take them in. That someone was then first-year Bromfield-Maynard head coach Harold Ogilve.
"We need the Bromfield kids," said Ogilve. "We will continue to need them as long as I am here and long after I am gone. Without them we would be with 27 kids -- we would not be able to fill a junior varsity and varsity football roster."
The 2012 bunch is just eight athletes, but they are a group who are looking to generate more interest in football at Bromfield High School. In recent history, Bromfield has been known for their soccer program, few even knew that the football players existed.
The 2012 Bromfield members of the Maynard High School football team include senior captain Jack Waterhouse, junior center Preston Wilkey, junior running back Rebecca Morin, sophomore linebacker Charles Mednieks, sophomore lineman Justin Gordon, sophomore running back Nick Robinson, sophomore linebacker Mike Relic and George Shuchuck.
Practice begins at 3:15 p.m. every day after school during the fall season. It is a 20-minute drive from Harvard to Maynard on Route 2. Some players drive, others take the bus. Often the Bromfield bunch that opts to take the bus to practice end up being 15 minutes late, but their teammates don't seem to mind.
Waterhouse remembers how devastated he was when he heard that Littleton dropped Bromfield from their co-operative program.
"After ninth grade I thought that I was never going to play football again. Basically, there was no team. I didn't play for a year. Then I found out about the Maynard co-op, and I was really glad to play. I never thought this would happen," said Waterhouse.
The 6-foot, 160-pound Waterhouse is the team's leading tackler from his linebacker position with 77 tackles this season. In the off season, Waterhouse plays rugby in Worcester.
"In rugby there are no pads. I play all spring and summer. When I come here, I feel like I am invincible," said Waterhouse.
Waterhouse played youth football for eight years for the Nashoba Regional Pop Warner team. The common misconception about Harvard is that no one really cares about football, but seven out of the eight Bromfield players have competed at the youth level prior to high school.
Wilkey, unlike Waterhouse, never had the opportunity to represent his high school for football until this year, when he joined the co-operative team. Wikey came a year late to the program, when Littleton cut off Bromfield football in 2010.
"Well, I really like the opportunity to represent Maynard. I have been playing football for pretty much my whole life," said Wilkey. "When we broke up with Littleton, I never had the chance to represent any high school for football. When this opportunity came, I was really grateful."
Morin is out to prove that it isn't so uncommon for a girl to be on a high school football team. She got into football because of her older brother, who played peewee Pop Warner for Nashoba. Morin always wanted to get into football, but she never did until high school.
Wilkey and Morin have been great friends since they were young, and recall a conversation she had with him that pushed her to play high school football.
"When we were little, Preston played Pee Wee. He told me that girls can't play and he made me mad," said Morin. "Sophomore year, when we became a team, they said all students interested come down; they didn't say just boys."
Relic has been with the cooperative program since it started, and he really doesn't feel like the adjustment phase really impacted him. "I was a freshman coming in, and I really didn't know many people so it was an easy adjustment," said Relic. "The teachers at the Bromfield school really like that we have a team. They always ask about the games and are really supportive."
The 5-5 Tigers will rest up this week, and turn their attention to their Thanksgiving day clash with the Gaels on the road. As the old adage goes, success isn't given, it's earned.
"Back in Bromfield, soccer has been there forever. Since we're just restarting the football program, we don't have the full respect the soccer team does," said Gordon. "People at Bromfield respect success, and we need to be successful before we can expect people to see us as a legitimate team."