Thursday, November 30, 2017

Middleboro Hoping to "Win One for Nelly" this Saturday at Gillette

As they have all season, the Sachems will wear a sticker bearing longtime coach and teacher Scott Nelson's high school number of 57 when they take the field at Gillette.
By Eamon Convey (@eamonconvey)

Middleboro, Mass. - When the Middleboro Sachems (9-3) football team returned to the field for practices this past summer, there was a notable absence for the first time since 1981.

Lifelong Middleboro resident and proud Sachem, Scott Nelson, 59, passed away suddenly in June, just weeks after retiring from his positions as both a teacher and coach at Middleboro High School. The man referred to as “Nelly” by those close to him was not only the head of the science department, but also coached football, basketball, and softball at MHS.

Nelly worked under Middleboro Head Football Coach Pat Kingman as a receivers coach, and left an endearing mark on the program.

“(Scott) had been here since day one that I became coach of this program,” Kingman noted. “He was a guy that had been at the high school thirty-something years, and just always seemed to know what to say. Nelly would calm me down if I was getting to ahead of myself, or if he knew I was stressed out at practice, he would be the one to explode so my blood pressure didn’t go through the roof.”

As they have all year, the team will wear a sticker bearing Nelson’s high school number 57 on their helmets during the MIAA Division 6 Super Bowl versus Littleton (11-0), Saturday morning at Gillette Stadium. 

“He is with these guys every single day,” Kingman said. “He was Middleboro. Some people ask if he would be proud... He would be proud of anything at all involving Middleboro, so we know that he is proud of this team.”

Harrison Lapierre, a senior who plays outside linebacker and wide receiver for the Sachems, worked with Nelly each of the last three seasons in his receivers group.

“He’s been my coach since freshman year,” Lapierre said and then cleared his throat. “Coming into this year, especially as a receiver, I had no idea what to expect with him being gone, but our coaches have done a great job of keeping us focused and helping us get better.”

Lapierre noted that Nelly was could be quite the comedian, even when he didn’t intend to be funny.

“I’ll never forget this one moment from my sophomore year,” Lapierre said with a wry smile. “Nelly was trying to show us how to do a specific drill where we would jump over these larger bags, and he just tripped and fell pretty hard in front of everyone. Got a good laugh out of that one.”

Senior quarterback Evan Gwozdz also worked extensively with Nelly and the receiver group he coached.

“He was a great man, a great husband, father, and football coach,” Gwozdz said. “I had a number of chances to learn from him both as a teacher in the classroom and as a coach on the football field, and he was just a terrific guy.”

Nelly was at MHS the last time the Sachems reached a Super Bowl in 1983, and he is here once again with this 2017 Middleboro team.

“There is not a day that goes by that you don’t think about something he said or did,” Kingman said. “All you have to do is look at the helmets and see the decal to know what he meant to our program.”

“He is just a great guy and we’re hoping to go out on top,” Gwozdz said of Nelly. “This one is for him.”

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