Friday night football is a first for Thayer

Friday night football is a first for Thayer

Thayer Academy recently played its first home varsity football game under the lights, and judging by the reaction of players, coaches, families, and fans, the well-attended contest was truly a night to remember. 

Nate Austin-Johnstone '24 catches his second   
touchdown of the night

Dubbed the “Friday Night Lights” game in a nod to both the television series and the book extolling the passion of high school football, the Tigers hosted Belmont Hill on the evening of Oct. 20 with a ring of rented light towers encircling Ward S. Donner P ‘59, ‘63 Memorial Football Field. It rained during the first quarter, but the rest of the night was cool and clear. 

The only other item which slightly dampened the evening was the final score, as a strong Belmont Hill team defeated Thayer 34-12. The Tigers fought hard all night, however, and were cheered on by a large number of fans, many of whom remained until the last play of the game. One highlight of the night was the “Blackout Section” where students dressed all in black as a show of school unity and stationed themselves as one long line along the back of the far end zone. Their enthusiasm never waned, a demonstration of Tiger pride worthy of the “Un-Un-Un” team — Thayer’s famed 1964 football team which went undefeated, untied, and unscored upon. In fact, several members of the “Un-Un-Un” squad were on hand for the game as guests of honor for the ceremonial coin toss. 

Thayer football players and members of the
1964 Thayer football team participated in the
ceremonial coin toss

The team’s effort through all four quarters did not go unnoticed by their coach. 

“Our kids made me proud with the way they fought,” said head coach Jeff Toussaint ‘82, who noted that the team was outmanned that night due to an unusual rash of injuries. 

In typical fashion, captain Nate Austin-Johnstone ‘24 led the way on the field. He scored both Thayer touchdowns, displaying what Toussaint called an incredible athleticism and indefatigable effort.

“I thought that Nate, Drew St. Pierre ‘26, Angel Perez-Gonzalez ‘25, [captain] Seany Toland ‘24, and Arnaud Dugas ‘25 stood out for us,” said Toussaint. 

An alum himself, Toussaint was equally impressed with the pride shown off the field. 

“The atmosphere was amazing,” he said. “Despite not getting the result we wanted, it was, in my mind, a historic night.” 

Thayer students cheered for their classmates     
from the back of the far end zone

In addition to the “football” part of the football game, the night included food trucks, a concessions table, a spirit table where students could get their glow-in-the dark gear, and a “Clear the Cage” sale featuring one-of-a-kind uniforms and merchandise. Thayer’s Athletics Department and the Thayer Academy Parent Association (TAPA), through its Parent Athletics Council (PAC), organized the event, and TAPA volunteers ensured that activities ran smoothly. 

"It was an incredible night for our Thayer community," said Athletic Director Bobbi Moran. "I'm so grateful to all those who worked tirelessly to make this such a wonderful event."

While the fall sports season may be winding down, Thayer teams across all levels still have plenty of games to play. Check the Athletics Department section of the website to find upcoming meets, matches, and games. 

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