Just because they grew up in New England, it doesn’t mean they’re Patriots fans.

Just because they grew up in New England, it doesn’t mean they’re Patriots fans.

With the Super Bowl less than a week away, perhaps nowhere is football fever running stronger than Clinton, Mass., schools, but not everyone’s on the same team.

Clinton Middle School Principal Michael Vetros said his school is hosting “Show Your Pride Day” today, where students can wear uniforms for any team. Vetros will feign happiness for the Pats, but his real pride is in a team that didn’t make the playoffs this year.

Vetros, a Clinton native, jumped on the Buffalo Bills bandwagon in the late 1980s, when Jim Kelly led the team. Those Bills eventually made four straight Super Bowl appearances, 1990 to 1993, without a win.

“I’m a huge Bills fan and I am still waiting for them to win a Super Bowl,” said Vetros. “They had a good team this year and they’re going places.”

Naturally, Vetros is in the minority, as his students make him fully aware.

“I’m afraid to show my face to them,” he said, joking.

Vetros praised the intelligence of sixth-grade mathematics teacher Thomas Santasania, who is a Giants fan, calling him “a strong intellectual whose breadth of wisdom shows he knows something.”

Santasania, who originally hails from Clinton, has been a Giants fan since the early 1980s, when he idolized local Ayer High School football great Joseph Morris, who was later drafted by the Giants.

“It’s like an extra gift, like Christmas all over again, the fact they’re playing the Patriots again,” Santasania said excitedly. “I absolutely think they will beat New England.”

Fellow faculty member John Gibbons, an eighth-grade social studies teacher and high school athletic director, is a strong Giants supporter as well, Santasania said.

“I run the clock at varsity basketball games, and John and I love to wear our Giants apparel, which really stands out among the Patriots fans,” he said.

Those fans were in evidence at Clinton High School this week, encouraged to dress in team jerseys for “Patriots Week.” But don’t expect the school principal to join in.

“We always encourage kids to be part of the excitement,” said Principal James Hastings. “We will have a Patriots Week before the Super Bowl, where kids can wear Patriots clothing.”

But Hastings is another Clinton native who’s no die-hard Patriots fan. In fact, he joined Vetros rooting for the Chargers in the AFC championship game.

“I used to be a big Lance Allworth fan growing up,” Hastings said. “He was drafted by the Chargers, and I stuck with them ever since. He later joined the Cowboys, and I became a fan of them too.”

Hastings also mentioned School Superintendent Gerald Gaw is among the Giants faithful.

Times & Courier