hgazette.com, Haverhill, MA

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July 18, 2013

City trio enshrined 50 years after grid title

It took 52 years before justice was served to a Haverhill trio that helped lead Brewster Academy to a Lakes Region championship.

The wait seemed intolerable for Tom Thornton and Bill Fenlon Jr., especially after losing their sidekick Jimmy Owens some years back.

The three were part of an elite team that was inducted into the school’s Athletic Hall of Fame June 1. The tribute to Owens came posthumously.

“Don’t know what took so long for our football team to be formally recognized,” said Thornton. “But as they say, better late than never.”

They grew up in Bradford, served as altar boys at Sacred Hearts Church and attended parochial school together, playing CYO basketball. They made their first Holy Community there and were confirmed at that church. One’s joy was another’s pleasure. The same could be said for any grievances.

They belonged to the Boy Scouts and played Little League baseball on similar teams. As friends, they became inseparable.

Together, they proceeded to Haverhill High, played their sports, did well scholastically, and graduated with the Class of 1961. That summer, they made a pact. Off they’d go for a year of preparatory school and the choice was unanimous: Brewster Academy in Wolfboro, N.H.

A Gazette article featured their photographs with the headline: “Three to study at Brewster.”

Owens and Fenlon went out for football after successful careers with the Hillies. Thornton had only played freshman ball at Haverhill before dropping out. It didn’t take long to convince him to keep the trio together.

“All for one,” said these Musketeers.

The year was 1961 and the team ran roughshod over its opponents. Had it not been for a bad snap from center against Phillips Exeter, they would have gone unbeaten, racking up 500 yards on the ground in the 7-6 heart-breaking loss. Included in their season were solid victories over freshman teams from Harvard, Dartmouth and UMass.

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