By Cary Shuman
Dr. Dan Dill and his brother, Tom Dill, owner of the Lazy Dog Restaurant in Lynn, presented the Lynn Classical football team 50 tickets to Saturday’s BC-Central Michigan game before a Rams’ practice Monday.
The Dills made the donation in honor of Tony Thurman, who was coached in football by Dan Dill at Cobbet Junior High and Classical. Thurman spoke to the team at the practice and Dan Dill handled the introduction.
“In Tony’s senior year, he was the Boston Globe Player of the Year and like his brother [Eddie], he led Lynn Classical to a Super Bowl championship – that’s been our last Super Bowl back in 1979,” Dill said.
This year’s Classical team is off to a 3-0 start this season under head coach Brian Vaughan, who thanked the Dill brothers for the BC tickets and complimentary transportation to the game.
Dan Dill recalled Thurman’s senior year at Boston College when he was named a First-Team All-American defensive back and helped lead the team to a victory over Houston in the Cotton Bowl. Quarterback Doug Flutie won the Heisman Trophy while Lynn’s Peter Holey was a key performer at linebacker for the Eagles.
“Tony led the whole country in interceptions with twelve,” said Dill. “He had 25 career interceptions.”
Dill noted Thurman’s all-around athletic prowess at Classical. He was also a standout guard on Lynn Classical’s 1980 state championship basketball team that included fellow starters Stu Primus, Pancho Bingham, Sandy McGee, and Meryl Brown.
“Tony was a great athlete – not only was a champion who led Classical to the Super Bowl but that year (1980) as a basketball player, they won the state championship.”
Thurman stressed the importance of education in his remarks to the team.
“I was fortunate to have to an education to fall back on,” said Thurman. “You want to be a firefighter. You want to be a police officer. You need your education because you have to take an exam. You want to be a federal agent like myself, you need a college degree.”
He said he has been following the Rams’ strong start this season. “I’m here to tell you congratulations on a good start. Keep up the good work. But at the end of the day when the coaches are pushing you to get your work done, you have to get it done. I lived it. I kept persevering and I got it done. At the end of the day, it’s going to give you an opportunity in life,” he said.
Thurman said he began his football career for the ‘D’ team in the West Lynn Pop Warner organization. He played two years of junior high football as a quarterback and defensive back. At Classical, he was the backup quarterback to Kenny Green as a sophomore. He was the starting quarterback and safety in his junior and senior seasons.
“Bill Wise was the coach and we beat Scituate in the Super Bowl,” said Thurman. “We beat English twice in my three years at Classical.”
He said he was recruited by Syracuse, Ohio State, Hawaii, Northeastern, and Boston College among other programs.
“I couldn’t have picked a better school and I ended up at home – Boston College,” said Thurman.
One of the honors of being selected Associated Press All-American was an appearance on the nationally televised Bob Hope Show. Thurman remembers meeting the legendary comedian.
“That was a good time,” said Thurman.
Where was Tony T. when Doug Flutie completed the “Miracle in Miami” touchdown pass to Gerard Phelan at the Orange Bowl?
“I was on the sideline walking on the field while the ball was in the air,” said Thurman. “It was caught and then it was just mayhem.”
Thurman called his former BC teammate, Peter Holey, “a great guy.”
“Peter was a great linebacker. We had a lot of fun. We commuted back and forth from college coming home on the weekends sometimes. We’re still friends and I know him to this day and we stay in touch,” Thurman said.