Westborough football loses to Tantasqua in season opener | #teacher | #children | #kids

STURBRIDGE — Westborough football coach Joe Beveridge had a shorter commute than usual from his office at Tantasqua Regional High School to the football field. 

On Friday, Beveridge’s new team the Rangers squared off against his old team, the Warriors in both teams’ season openers. 

The result wasn’t quite what he had hoped for as Tantasqua spoiled their former coach’s Westborough coaching debut in a 21-7 romp.

“It was great to be out here with these guys,” said Beveridge who still teaches at Tantasqua as a PE teacher. “I thought they did a good job, played really hard. We were just a little undermanned.” 

Beveridge coached for eight years at Tantasqua – the last four as head coach – and led them to three playoff appearances as the head of the program.

On the opening kickoff, Westborough already found themselves down 6-0 after a 92 yard kickoff return for a touchdown by senior Cameron Varney started the game. 

“It was an unfortunate way to shake the rust off with an opening kickoff for a score,” Beveridge said. “But I thought the kids played hard and gave everything they had.”

It was Varney’s first touchdown score of his career. 

“That was great to see Cam, first year coming out for football as a senior (take it to the house on his first play),” Warriors coach Jon Hargis said. “Wish I had him longer. Great athlete, basketball and lacrosse player, so it was great to see him be successful on day one.” 

But despite the big play to start the game, Beveridge thought his team did a good job responding to the adversity. 

“I don’t know if it set the tone because I thought the kids responded pretty well,” Beveridge said. “I think they played hard and pretty physical. They didn’t put their heads down and I think they tried to regroup.”

Tantasqua dominated the line of scrimmage opening up holes for sophomore running back Johnathan Miranda who rushed for 114 yards on 18 carries and a touchdown. The Warriors as a team gained 223 yards on the ground. 

“We don’t have a lot of size up front,” Beveridge said. “The guys that we do have size-wise are not here able to play.” 

After a touchdown pass from Dante Reno and a converted two-point conversion, the Warriors led 14-0 after one quarter of play. A three-yard touchdown run from Miranda extended Tantasqua’s lead to 21-0 at halftime. 

The Rangers finally got on the board in the third quarter on a seven-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Josh Bebko to wide receiver Declan Van Nest made it 21-7 with 1:44 left to play in the third quarter. 

Westborough had an opportunity to cut it to a one possession game in the fourth quarter after a fumble recovery and return by Adam Steinberg to the Warriors’ 16 yard line, but the Rangers were unable to punch it in turning it over on downs with 6:16 left to play. 

Westborough didn’t help themselves either with two turnovers on special teams. 

“We had some drives and I think they had some drives, so it was an even game,” Beveridge said. “But obviously we aren’t good enough to give possessions away and we gave three possessions away with our special teams.” 

Still, Beveridge was pleased with his team’s effort in the second half and shutting out Tantasqua in the final 24 minutes.

“Coach Daly did a great job getting what they were trying to do to us offensively,” he said. “It really not so much adjustments but just making sure the kids were doing their jobs correctly.”  

Despite not getting the result that Beveridge would have preferred, the game was still special regardless.  

“The kids, I see them in the hallways, they are great kids here at Tantasqua,” Beveridge said. “The coaches do a good job at getting them prepared and you could tell that they are very coachable kids and hardworking kids which I see in the classroom all the time and I have those here as well at Westborough.”

Its even special for the team that he left on the opposite sideline. 

“All of us are just ultra-competitive so I think all of us wanted to win,” Hargis said. “Coach Beveridge is excited for them, I think a lot of them have him as a PE teacher, but we hope for him the best.” 

Ethan Winter is a senior multimedia sports journalist at the Daily News. He can be reached at ewinter@wickedlocal.com. Follow him on Twitter @EWints.

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