Now that Concord-Carlisle’s annual football game with Lexington has moved back to Thanksgiving, C-C senior defensive back Ryan Martines gets to play his final game with the Patriots against the same opponent his grandfather faced in his final high school game.
Joe Martines, a 1955 graduate of what was then known as Concord-High School, was a 5-foot, 11-inch, 185-pound tackle for Concord.
“I really enjoy being a part of this,” Ryan said. “I grew up hearing a lot about those teams. He played in this game in 1954 and now, almost 70 years later, I’m playing in it.”
Though he went to Concord High, Joe grew up in Bedford. At the time, there was no Bedford High School. Initially, high school-aged students from Bedford went to Lexington High School, as Joe’s older brother did. When Lexington no longer had enough room to accommodate students from Bedford, they went to Concord High School.
In the 50s, Concord was one of the dominant high school programs in Massachusetts. Between 1948 and 1952, Concord won 40 straight games. That was a state record that stood until 2004, when Acton-Boxborough surpassed it with a win over Concord-Carlisle in the third game of the season. A-B, then coached by current C-C freshman coach Bill Maver, extended the streak to 52 games before losing in 2005.
Concord’s success continued through Martines’ career. They beat Lexington eight straight times between 1948 and 1955 and were 9-0-1 between 1946 and 1955. During that time, Concord allowed the Minutemen to score just 12 points, six in 1953 and six in 1984.
Joe played a significant role in Concord’s success and along with several of his teammates, he played in the Great Lowell All-Star game.
“It was a great experience,” Joe said. “I met a lot of great kids in Concord. The coaches, Bernie Megin, Skip O’Connor and Walter Carew, were great coaches. My senior year we lost one game, to Winchester, which had Joe Bellino, who went on to win the Heisman Trophy at Navy. I got to know him when he moved to Bedford after he grew up. We played softball together.”
Just about everything was different about football in the 1950s and the school that Joe attended is very different from the one Ryan attends today.
“When I played you played the whole game, offense and defense, from the kickoff to the end,” Joe said. “We only had 28 players on the team.”
Concord High School was where the Hunt Recreation Center stands today. The football games were played at Emerson Field. Concord High School had students from Concord, Carlisle, Bedford and Lincoln, but the enrollment was much smaller than C-C’s is today.
“It was a completely different league,” Joe said. “We were in the Middlesex League back then. The Lexington games were huge. The whole town came out for it and surrounded the field.”
Today, Concord-Carlisle is in the Dual County League. When it moved into the DCL from the Middlesex League in 1973, C-C began playing Bedford on Thanksgiving and faced Lexington, which is still in the Middlesex League, earlier in the season, usually in the first or second game.
The game returned to Thanksgiving Day last year.
When Ryan was growing up, he heard the stories about his grandfather’s experiences and what football meant to him.
“He grew up on a farm,” Ryan said. “He found football and he loved it.”
Joe passed on his love of the game to his children and grandchildren. Joe’s son, Mark, who is Ryan’s father, played at the Belmont Hill School, graduating in 1984. Ryan’s older brother, Matthew played at Belmont Hill and graduated in the spring. Last year, Matthew was a preseason Independent Schools League All-Star and earned the team’s Sportsmanship Award. Matthew now attends Boston College and is enrolled in its Carroll School of Business.
Ryan’s younger sister, Megan, is a freshman at C-C who is a cheerleader and plays softball. Ryan’s mother played field hockey at Babson College and his grandmother, Mary, played field hockey at Tufts University.
Joe and Mark also played basketball and baseball, Ryan plays lacrosse in the spring.
In football, Ryan worked his way up through the ranks at C-C, playing on the freshman and JV teams and growing into a larger role as a senior.
“He’s really worked very hard,” said C-C coach Josh Reed. “He’s dedicated himself to getting better and stronger and it’s paid off.”
Thus far, Ryan has been happy with the way the season has gone. It’s had its ups and downs, but the Patriots finished the regular season with a 6-3 record and is 5-5 going into Thursday after a playoff loss to top-seeded Milford in the MIAA Division 2 state tournament and a consolation bracket setback to Woburn.
“At the beginning of the season, the coaches asked us to fill out a list of our goals, personally and as a team,” Ryan said. “We wanted to make the playoffs and we did.”
Next year, Ryan will attend Babson College to study business. Babson does not have a football team, so Thursday is his final game. As it did with his grandfather, the game and the C-C program left a huge impact on his life.
“It’s been a big part of my life,” Ryan said. “When I was applying to Babson, I wrote my college essay about the HERD, which is what we call ourselves. It stands for Habits, Enthusiasm, Respect and Discipline.”