William T. "Billy" Friel

Barnstable High School

Class of 1976

Varsity Letterman — 6 Times
Football, Ice Hockey, Baseball
Captain, Football, 1975 (# 44)
1974 Most Outstanding Lineman Award, Football
1974 Joseph Borsari Dedication Award, Football
1975 Most Outstanding Player Award, Football
1975 Most Outstanding Back Award, Football
1975 Jean G. Hinkle Memorial Athletic Award Recipient
1974 Capeway Conference All-Star, Football (Guard)
1975 SMC All-Star, Football (Linebacker)
1975 Capeway Conference All-Star, Baseball, Third Base
1976 SMC All-Star, Baseball, Third Base

One of only 39 young men to have served as a sole captain of a Barnstable High School varsity football team in the program’s 118 seasons, Billy Friel made the almost unheard of shift from offensive lineman to fullback his senior season in 1975, pounding his way down the middle for then Red Raider head coach Steve Goveia.

As an offensive lineman, Friel was as intense as he was efficient, opening holes for such Red Raider all-time great running backs as Mike Weller, Guy Nelson and Glenn Guenard. His blocking prowess earned him the vaunted Most Ouststanding Lineman Award of 1974 as a junior and he opened eyes enough on the Red Raider coaching staff that they shifted him to fullback his senior season.

But the Red Raider staff made another move, as well: former Syracuse University starting linebacker and in 1976 assistant coach Don Dorr shifted the tumultuous, hard-scrabble and hard-hitting lineman to linebacker. It was at linebacker that Friel truly shined forth for the vaunted Red & White, as the hard-nosed young man delivered punishing blow after blow to his opponents. Nevermind the win-loss column – it was with each ball snapped and each attempt by an opposing running back that one Billy Friel stepped firmly and intently into the breach and offered nothing less than punishment for those who dared to enter the midline scrum. It was at linebacker that Red Raider Billy Friel made a name for himself upon the facemasks, forearms and chests of all those who dared to cross his path.

While the 1975 Red Raider varsity football campaign was blemished as winless, captain Friel not once surrendered or gave in, throwing bone-jarring forearm shiver after spine-cracking block out of Coach Goveia’s backfield, while countering such blows with vidious hits hard enough to earn him a second straight all-conference honor, not before or since done at two completely opposing positions on the storied Red & White gridiron. Friel’s dedication and relentlessness garnered the wild-haired fullback/linebacker the team’s Most Outstanding Player Award, Most Outstanding Back Award and the true mark of a legendary Red Raider football player, the Jean G. Hinkle Award in his senior campaign.

As a third baseman for Rollie Hicks’s Red Raider diamond nine, playing alongside such all-time greats as Billy Sullivan, Jeff Taylor, Dave Nickulas and Mark Miller-Jones, Friel was no less effective protecting the hot corner as he was protecting Red Raider halfbacks. One of the school’s top students and well-liked by his classmates, Friel’s legacy may not have been league championships as it was in helping maintain Red Raider Pride at a time when Barnstable High School was redefining its athletic programs in the wake of the school’s sports dynasties of the late 1960s and early 1970s.

As a sophomore and junior defenseman on Hall of Famer Peter Melchiono’s 1973-74 and 1974-75 16-4-4 Red Raider ice hockey team, Friel would enjoy a season marked by team success as Barnstable went to the Division II semifinals, finally bowing to Austin Prep, 4-3 at the old Boston Garden.

Of all his athletic endeavors for the Raider Red and White, however, few can argue that it was on the football gridiron that the true mark of a champion shined through for the hard-nosed lineman turned fullback, because it was not in victories that his success was noted, but it was in the inestimable heart, drive and perseverance of never giving up, never giving in and never surrendering no matter how high the odds were stacked against him.

Inducted Into the BHS Athletic Hall of Fame, Nov. 27, 2010

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