Wakefield, MA—This past fall marked the 40th anniversary of the one of the most memorable football seasons in Wakefield High School history. As part of that undefeated Middlesex League Championship team, one of the greatest athletes to ever play for the Warriors emerged.
John Rafferty, Class of 1971, will forever be remembered as the greatest football player to wear a Wakefield jersey. The 1994 inductee into the Wakefield High School Athletic Hall of Fame had a record breaking career during his four years as a Warrior. His senior season was his breakout year where he rushed for 1,575 yards on 275 carries. He scored a record 124 points and finished with 190 points for his career. He finished his career with 2,408 yards rushing, although many people argue this number is much too low as they recall those memorable fall games where John rumbled through Middlesex League opponents. Unfortunately the records were destroyed in the fires of the 1970’s and the record book had to be redone utilizing old accounts of the contests in the local newspapers. Yesteryears games reports were not nearly as accurate as they are today. This leaves the debate open when it comes to the records.
For his accomplishments in 1970, Rafferty was named an All-Scholastic by the Boston Globe, Boston Herald and Boston Record. The Boston newspapers named him the “Finest EMass Schoolboy Running Back of the 1970’s.” He also received the Shawmut Award for being the Most Outstanding Player in the Wakefield versus Melrose Thanksgiving Day Game.
Upon leaving Wakefield High School, Rafferty went on to become the Captain of the Syracuse University Football Team. He was awarded the Miller Award for being an outstanding athlete, student and citizen.
Rafferty’s accomplishments on the football field are not only as a player. John has taken his love for the game and translated it into an extremely successful career as a coach. He was recently named High School Coach of the Year by Mastersports.org. Rafferty joins the company of past winners Jack Martinelli (Foxboro), John DiBiaso (Everett), Bill Maver (Acton-Boxboro) and Bill Maradei (Austin Prep).
Rafferty joined the coaching ranks in 1987 as he was a member of the staff at Reading High School for three seasons. After leaving Reading, John came back home and coached the Warriors as an assistant during the 1990 and 1991 seasons. An opportunity opened up at Melrose in 1992 and Rafferty left Wakefield to become an assistant coach for the Red Raiders until 2000.
After toiling as an assistant coach in the Middlesex League for 13 seasons, Rafferty finally got the call to become a head coach at North Andover in 2001. Since becoming head coach, Rafferty has led the Scarlet Knights to Cape Ann League Championships in 2005 and 2010. They were Co-Champions in 2006. His peers named him Cape Ann League Coach of the Year after the 2005 and 2010 seasons and he had the honor to represent his school and league as a Shriner’s Classic assistant coach in 2003, 2006 and most recently 2010.
When asked to reflect on his 23 seasons as a football coach Rafferty said, “23 years of high school football has produced so many memories for me. The players, the coaches, the good times and some difficult times are all so memorable to me. Coaching players that have shared the love of the game of football are my greatest memories. They weren’t always the stars but were special to me individually and as teams.”
Although he is up at North Andover and now a Scarlet Knight, Rafferty still has fond memories of his time as a Warrior. Rafferty said, “I have great memories of teammates and coaches, especially Bob Bisacre. He was the guy I wanted to play for! Our Championship run in 1970 and how great that felt to win as a team are some of memories that will last a lifetime.”
The Warrior Club salutes John Rafferty, Class of 1971!