In one of the coldest Thanksgivings in recent memory, The Malden High Golden Tornadoes defeated the Medford High Mustangs 28-22. MacDonald Stadium was host to another classic game between the two rivals. It was the 131st annual football game between the two teams, the second longest continuous rivalry in the country.
Both teams came into the game after having relatively disappointing seasons. But none of that mattered, as just as always, the game was a contest to secure bragging rights. Ultimately, it was Malden who came out victorious for a fourth straight year, extending their lead in the all-time series to 66-55-10.
The game was played in freezing temperatures and perhaps the elements played a role in the general play. There were numerous turnovers committed by both teams that proved costly. But both teams fought throughout in a very competitive and back-and-forth game that reflected how important the contest was for both teams.
It was the Tornadoes who started the game on the front foot. Junior tailback Jerry Mervil opened the scoring with a five-yard rushing touchdown, putting Malden up 8-0 after a two-point conversion. Medford responded with two straight touchdown runs by senior quarterback Keith Barrasso, whose threat as a scrambler from under center troubled the Tornado defense all game. Barrasso ended up gashing Malden’s defense for 230 yards and three touchdowns in the game.
Not to be outdone was Malden’s sophomore quarterback, Justin Nortelus, who lead the way on offense for the Tornadoes with his three total touchdowns in the game, two in the air and one on the ground. An 11-yard touchdown pass from Nortelus to sophomore wideout Matthew Bessey tied the game at 14 to conclude the first half.
Malden came out firing in the second half and seized on opportunities offensively while containing Barrasso and the Mustang Offense for much of the half. Nortelus continued his stellar day with a 35-yard touchdown pass to Mervil. This followed by a six-yard touchdown scramble by Nortelus gave the Tornadoes a 28-14 lead in the fourth quarter.
However, Barrasso and the Mustangs mounted a furious comeback in the fourth quarter. A six-yard touchdown scramble by Barrasso followed by a two-point conversion brought the Mustangs within six-points of the Tornadoes with just minutes left to play in the game. The Mustangs held out defensively on the ensuing Tornado drive and quickly gave the ball back to their offense.
With a chance to win the game with a touchdown and an extra point conversion, Medford’s offense drove the length of the field and was positioned in scoring territory. Unfortunately for the Mustangs, Barrasso went down with an injury with less than 2:30 left to play and inside Malden’s 30-yard line. His replacement, senior quarterback Joel Disla, mishandled a snap and fumbled the football just three plays later which proved to be one too many turnovers for the Mustangs. The ball was recovered by Malden’s freshman defensive lineman, Justin DeSimone, who essentially sealed the Thanksgiving Day victory, along with all the bragging rights, for the Golden Tornadoes.
Senior captain, Tyler Martineau reflected on the game with “pride” on his final outing in a Tornado uniform. He explained that for everyone and the seniors especially, the game was a must-win situation as “[they] had to get it done in order to end [their] careers undefeated against Medford.”
“There was such a variety of emotions I felt after the game. I was so happy to finally win a game this season but also sad to see four years come to an end. What I really took away from the game was that when you have a whole group of people that are invested [in] a common goal it will get done.”