There’s no doubt that Thanksgiving football has lost some of its flavor in recent years.
While most teams have elected to move rivalry games off the holiday, there are others, thankfully, that have chosen to keep the tradition alive.
There’s just something about a crisp morning on the fourth Thursday in November that makes it one of the best days on the scholastic calendar.
If your alma mater still plays football on Turkey Day, do yourself a favor: Go out and see these student-athletes take the field.
It’s worth it.
Here’s a preview:
New Egypt (3-8) at Bordentown (4-6), 5 p.m.
The Scotties have won the last two Turkey Day meetings by a combined 77-0 scores.
Woodbury (6-4) at Gateway (2-7), 5:30 p.m.
The Thundering Herd own three straight wins and eight in the last 10 meetings of the series, including last year’s 6-0 decision. Woodbury owns a 33-12 edge in the series, which began in 1978. After losing the first game, Gateway won seven straight from 1979-85.
Turkey Day schedule
Gloucester Catholic (3-6) at Gloucester (8-2), 10 a.m.
The battle for bragging rights in the Holy City has been pretty even in the history of the series, which began in 1948. Gloucester Catholic owns a 24-23-1 lead in the series, but Gloucester has won the last three meetings by a combined score of 139-0. The teams didn’t play from 1966-1992, when they were in different conferences.
Eastside (7-3) at Camden (10-2), 10 a.m.
The Whip Wilson Trophy will be on the line again when these two cross-city rivals meet. Camden owns a 58-34-3 lead in the series, but the Panthers haven’t won since 2018. The Tigers captured their first win as Eastside last season with a 25-2 decision. The rivalry began in 1933 and has been renewed every year except for the Covid-shortened 2020 season.
Holy Spirit (8-2) at Atlantic City (6-4), 10 a.m.
This rivalry now ranks as the fourth-oldest to be played on Thanksgiving. Atlantic City boasts a 52-38-4 lead in the series, which began in 1926. However, Holy Spirit has narrowed the deficit with 15 wins in the last 20 meetings, including five straight. The Spartans captured a 63-44 victory in last year’s meeting, the most combined points scored in a single game in the series. Atlantic City’s Sah’nye Degraffenreidt is 92 receiving yards short of the school record (907) set by Dayshawn Reynolds in 2012, according to South Jersey football historian Chuck Langerman.
Vineland (5-6) at Millville (9-2), 10:30 a.m.
This rivalry is Thanksgiving Day football. Think of a more intense version of the Hatfields & McCoys. Lore has it that factory workers from both towns would wager a week’s paycheck on the game. Vineland owns a slim 67-65-19 lead in the series. Millville has won three straight, including last year’s 35-16 decision. The oldest rivalry game in Garden State history, they battled for the first time in 1893. Millville’s Lotzeir Brooks will be chasing several records including South Jersey marks in career receiving yards and career touchdowns.
Cherokee (9-3) at Seneca (9-2), 10:30 a.m.
This rivalry heads back to the holiday after moving off the date the previous three seasons. Seneca won the last time the two squads played on Thanksgiving with a 21-14 decision in 2019. Cherokee has owned the series with a 17-3 record. Seneca head coach Bill Fisher is expected to step down following the game. Fisher has led the Golden Eagles since the program’s inception in 2003. He’s won 97 games at Seneca, guiding the team to the postseason 10 times.
Pitman (5-4) at Clayton (5-4), 10:30 a.m.
The first kickoff in this series took place in 1925, when Pitman scored a 12-6 win. The Panthers maintain a 60-32-4 lead, but Clayton has righted the ship with 11 wins in the last 12 meetings. Each of the last three games have been decided by one score, including last year’s 20-14 overtime win for Clayton, which overcame a 14-point deficit. Pitman’s last win was a 13-12 decision in 2020.
Audubon (4-5) at Haddon Township (3-6), 11 a.m.
The Tom Curley Cup will be on the line when these two rivals meet. Audubon has maintained a strong grip on the hardware, winning the trophy in each of the last 10 meetings and padding its lead to 42-17-11 in the all-time series named after Curley, who coached for both programs during his Hall of Fame career. The Green Wave won last year’s edition with a 26-6 decision while Haddon Township is seeking is its first win since 2012. The series began in 1963 with Audubon earning the first victory, 37-6.
Haddonfield (9-2) at Haddon Heights (7-3), 11 a.m.
The Mayor’s Trophy is up for grabs in this one. These two rivals first met in 1902 and Thursday’s meeting will be the 114th in the all-time series. Haddonfield owns a 63-43-6 lead, including a 12-0 win in the first showdown and a 45-18 victory in the last. The game will be broadcast on 94.1 WIP SportsRadio with Joe DeCamara and Jon Ritchie on the call and Howard Eskin roaming the sidelines.
Paul VI (8-2) at Camden Catholic (3-6), 11 a.m.
The Eagles make the trip up Cuthbert Boulevard. in search on their fourth straight win in the series. Camden Catholic boasts a 32-23-1 lead in the series, which began in 1968. Paul VI won one of the most lopsided games in the rivalry with a 51-0 rout in last year’s edition.
Florence (7-1) at Riverside (6-4), 11 a.m.
Few teams have feasted better on Thanksgiving than Florence in recent years. The Flashes have won 13 straight games and 22 of the last 25 against their rival. Many of those games were decided by more than 30 points. Last year was an exception as Riverside hung tough during a 22-12 setback. Riverside hasn’t earned a win in the series with a 6-0 triumph in 2008. Florence owns a 55-24-1 lead in the overall series, which began in 1942. Florence head coach Joe Frappolli has guided the Flashes in 49 of those contests (no game was played in 2020 because of the pandemic). He also played in four more of the games at his alma mater. Frappolli, who is in his 50th season as head coach, is expected to loosen his tie and hang up the headset, putting an end to an illustrious coaching careers. Frappolli owns a 336-160-5 career record. Frappolli’s 502nd career game as coach will rank second on the all-time New Jersey list, two shy of Warren Wolf’s record, according to Langerman. Wolf coached 51 seasons at Brick Township and one at Lakewood. Frappolli’s 336 wins ranks second behind Paul Sacco, who won 358 games at St. Joseph.
Tom McGurk is a regional sports reporter for the Courier-Post and The Daily Journal, covering South Jersey sports for over 30 years. If you have a sports story that needs to be told, contact him at (856) 486-2420 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at @McGurkSports. Help support local journalism with a Courier-Post subscription.