Examining the Traditional Thanksgiving High School Football Game

Devlin proposes evolving the concept into a "Rivalry Week."

By Dave Devlin

Will this be the last round of Thanksgiving Day High School Football games for the Pioneer Athletic Conference? 

I sure hope so.

Many of you are aware of the fact that I listed several reasons why the tradition should come to an immediate end. And as most know now, because of a new scheduling rule put in place for next season, this Thanksgiving tradition doesn’t have a turkey leg to stand on any longer.

However, I am not here this week to pile on even more reasons why the tradition is no longer needed. 

Instead, I am here to call for a new tradition to begin, which I believe has a chance to take root and grow into an even bigger spectacle.

Let’s start thinking about “RIVALRY WEEK."

Yes “Rivalry Week." Catchy isn’t it? Especially if you ignore the fact I borrowed the often used name from ESPN.

Let me explain.

The traditional rivalries that took place at the end of the season do not need to be ignored or forgotten. I say they just need to be reversed on the schedule. 

That’s right. The first week of PAC-10 action should be designated for those soon to be eliminated Thanksgiving Day rivalries.

Pottstown versus Owen J. Roberts won’t be as interesting as an opening game you say?  


Don’t think for a moment the Trojans and Wildcats won’t get after each other with a little extra zest no matter when they play. Combine that match-up with the excitement of the first league contest and two rosters that haven’t been subjected to the wear and tear of a full schedule and you might see some of the best football in the series ever.  

Okay, so the “Famous Bucktown Boosters” might not be able to wear their familiar red jackets in 70-degree temperatures.  

I like that look by the way.  

Do you really think Phoenixville and Spring-Ford won’t be itching all summer long to lay some bone shaking hits on each other because the game will be played in warmer temperatures?  


How much harder will the Phantoms and Rams get after each other when they see more fans in the bleachers because the colder temperatures or family commitments of the holiday are not keeping them away from the football stadium?  

The way I envision this series of games with the change of schedule the host school might very well have to have come up with a larger staff to man the gates and concession stands. And that means it might take a little longer to count the proceeds afterwards.               

The aforementioned commentary also applies to Boyertown and Upper Perkiomen. Methacton and Perkiomen Valley could dust off the old “Battle Ax” and bring life back to a long ago laid to rest holiday rivalry. And Pottsgrove could take on Pope John Paul II and begin a new traditional rivalry. 

And what new traditions could surround these games?  

How about honoring memorable players and teams from years past or members of the community who have given much time in volunteer service to the athletic programs prior to the game?  

Can a community organization from one town partner with a rival to sponsor a banquet for the teams the night before the game? 

Mandate that both schools’ marching bands must debut their new shows at halftime.   

Why not go all out and schedule a game between the two rivals for every fall season sport the week leading up to the game? 

Don’t forget fund-raising either. How inspiring would it look to these players and coaches to look up into the stands and see them filled with fans wearing “Rivalry Week” T-shirts and hats in their school colors?          

Rivalry Week sounds like it has plenty of possibilities, doesn’t it?   

Yes, it’s time for Thanksgiving Day football to come to an end. But that doesn’t mean these traditional rivalries and the color and excitement has to die. 

In my mind, this new vision is big, colorful and exciting. However, I do not expect everyone to agree with me.  

I’m asking the PAC-10, the school officials and board members as well as the fans of high school football to take a step back and see an alternative to rather than the end of a tradition. 

Dave Devlin is the programming director at . He can be reached at ddevlin@wbzh.net.

Robin Reichley November 26, 2011 at 07:17 AM
Sorry, I'm still from the old school who thinks that it's great to end the high school football season with a little local rivalry! It has worked well all of these years as an exciting end of the season and the game at which all the alumni come home from college and see each other and enjoy the home team win! I think we should keep it going......
David Curran November 26, 2011 at 02:36 PM
I am with Robin on this; why change something that has worked so well in the past. My boys and I always look forward to the SF-Pville game. Rivalry Games played on the season opener would also interfere with many fans late summer vacation plans and would make it difficult for alums in college to attend
Ike November 26, 2011 at 07:44 PM
Keep it as it is.What the heck , in the beginning of the year,,NOOOOOOOOOOOOway.I know with playoffs , but like someone said ,only a couple of teams make it,so DONOT CHANGE T-DAY GAMES,, CHANGE PLAYOFFS GAMES to fit in.
PrinceOfPrussia November 27, 2011 at 12:08 AM
I vote for eliminating the PIAA play-offs, keeping a league title meaningful, and keeping the Turkey Bowl!
Richard November 28, 2011 at 03:57 PM
I'm originally from Western PA so I can tell you that Thanksgiving weekend is reserved for the WPIAL playoffs, that's it, and an incredibly big deal in the region, because it is the playoffs. So keep the Thanksgiving Day game and you stand to lose in the playoffs due to fatigue. What's more important? Wouldn't you want a shot at the state title?


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