Old Rivalries Reawaken this Thanksgiving Day

Mickeel Allen, Staff Reporter

Norristown and Upper Merion’s rivalry dates back to World War II when the Thanksgiving tradition originally began. Until a fight between the opposing schools in 1989, the two teams played against each other every Thanksgiving, for almost 40 years.  Given the proximity of the two schools, this game entails families to play against each other and co-workers to root for their opposing alma maters.  (25 November 1993, philly.com)

This beloved tradition is coming back with a renewed sense of cooperation between the school communities and is anticipated to invigorate school spirit and healthy, yet friendly, competition among the students and supporters of both schools.

According to the Times Herald, Upper Merion will host the game this year on November 26 at 10 A.M. at Vikings Stadium. In 2016, the game will be played at the Norristown Area Athletic Complex and if either team is still alive in the playoffs, the game will be played on Thanksgiving Eve.

The two schools both have their athletic directors to thank for this event.  Upper Merion’s Rob Devers and Norristown’s Anthony Palladino were vital in making this rivalry game decision. Both Devers and Palladino wanted to bring the two teams together and they wanted to do something surrounding football so they got to talking, and they thought that the schedule needed some excitement.  Consequently, arrived at the idea of a rivalry game for the two teams on Thanksgiving and this created excitement for the players and the two school communities.

Amir Borghaei of Upper Merion told The Times Herald “It’s going to be a really good time…especially with the history between our two teams.”   Lamont Sanford excitedly explained, “it’s going to be our last game senior year…[We] have to go all out.” Both head coaches, Howard Smith and Jason Powell were on board with the idea when it was presented to them.

According to The Times Herald, the community factor of the Thanksgiving holiday is the reason both athletic directors wanted to hold the game on Thanksgiving morning. During the holiday many alumni will be home and are more likely to come back and support their schools.TgShowdown

In a reflection of the cooperation of the two athletic programs, the cheer squads of both the Eagles and the Vikings have launched a joint fundraiser.  The cheerleaders are selling a commemorative t-shirt for game attendees and fans that includes both team names, each mascot and the date of this year’s game (image shown at right).  T-shirts will be on sale at the game starting at $15 for sizes small through extra-large, and $20 for sizes 2X and 3X.

In addition, the two schools are hoping to add a philanthropic element to this yearly tradition.  Ed Morlock of the Times Herald reports that there a community service project is underway in the two schools.  Essentially, those attending the game are asked to bring a nonperishable food donation to drop off at the entrance gate.  All donated food items will be transported to local food pantries to restock their supplies so they are ready for the winter holidays.

“We’re going to have the schools compete against each other in a friendly competition,” Devers said. “After the game the teams are going to take those items to local food pantries because at Thanksgiving there is a big demand on the food pantries and they get hit right again with the winter holiday season.”  However, food items will not serve as an entry fee to the game.  Tickets will be sold at game entrances only: students are $3 and non-students are $5.

This Thanksgiving Game will be a long awaited and special kick-off to a tradition both school communities hope to continue long into the future.