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Local high school teams share winning traditions, wonderful memories

championship seasons

Pictured here are Owen Higgins (#44) and James Lavin (#56).

Community rallies behind team in triumph and tragedy: Falmouth High School Football

Just a few weeks after reaching the pinnacle in high school athletics—a Super Bowl title won in front of family and friends at Gillette Stadium—the Falmouth High School football team and the entire Falmouth community were rocked when two members of the team died in a car accident on December 22. Owen Higgins and James Lavin, who also played for the Clippers’ hockey team, died in a crash while driving home from hockey practice.

“Those two kids were just such special young men,” says Falmouth High football coach Derek Almeida. “For that to happen, it was just devastating. It probably hit me harder than anything else ever has in my life, and it hit the players just as hard. I don’t think everybody is over the hump yet.”

Zach Murphy, a linebacker on the team, says Lavin and Higgins were two of his best friends. “They were great teammates, great guys,” Murphy says. “They could bring a smile to your face no matter how you were feeling.” Nick Couhig, the Clippers’ quarterback, offered a similar sentiment. “They could make anyone laugh. They were really special kids.”

Following the tragedy, the team has been buoyed from the support received from many in Falmouth. Love, encouragement, and the idea of someone being in your corner—these are feelings the team’s members are used to, though, as the community backed the team through the entire football season. “There’s a lot of tradition here and lots of people that really care about Falmouth football,” Almeida says. “People really showed up and supported us.” At the games, Murphy says fans always spurred them on. “They kept us riled up,” he says. “They were a big factor in everything that we accomplished.” Couhig adds that parents contributed in many ways, including making sure the team always had food for the long bus rides after away games. “They did a really great job of taking care of us and supporting us,” he says.

On the field, the Clippers completed an undefeated 14-0 season in 2016, culminating with a win over Marblehead in the Division II Super Bowl. It was the first such title in the school’s history. After the game, Falmouth Police met the team’s buses at the Bourne Rotary to provide an escort home. The contingent drove through town and along Main Street, and fans were waiting for them along the roads and at Fuller Field. “Everyone in the stores came out and they all cheered us on,” Murphy says. “It was so cool.” –Matt Gill

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