Beginning in 2015, the Thanksgiving football game will no longer showcase the rivalry between Andover and Central Catholic, ending an era.
Alternating game sites between the Lovely Field and the Lawrence High Stadium, the duel between the two towns has been going on since 1983. However, Andover’s new opponent will be the North Andover Knights, while Central Catholic will play the Lawrence Raiders. This change has been brought about by the new MIAA Play-Off format that has forced Andover and Central to face-off three times in this season alone.
According to Andover Athletic Director, Don Doucette, this change is in the best interest of both teams. Due to the fact AHS played Central once in the regular season and once at Thanksgiving, the “possibility of playing them a third time in the State Tournament” is highly probable, says Doucette. He believes that “it’s just not a good thing for a team to do.” Doucette also understands that fans and students alike are upset with this change, be he feels it will make for a more successful season for both teams.
Student athletes from AHS have mixed emotions after hearing the news. Kevin Chen, a senior running back for the Warriors, said, “I’m going to be graduating this year, so it doesn’t really affect me. But, it’s definitely going to change the rivalry of the Andover-Central game.” Chen suffered a knee injury against CCHS during the playoff game, which has barred his participation from this year’s Turkey Bowl.
Junior Mathew Stamas said that he is “not upset with the game change because [he] thinks that we will have a better shot at winning against North Andover than Central.” Stamas is positioned to take over as the starting right guard for senior Brian Duffy.
The long lived Andover-Central rivalry has left Central as the victor, as they lead the series 21-19-1. Tightly contested, the matchup has left Andover 0-2 in the 2014 season. They lost 49-25 in September, and 28-21 in the first round of the Division 1 North Play-Off tournament.
Thomas Perez, senior defensive back, believes that Andover will “have a very strong chance” at the upcoming Thanksgiving matchup, and since the team has come “so close the last two times” they are motivated to grab the win. He thinks “[Andover] is strong, even without the loss of some players due to injury, and we’ll show it come Thanksgiving morning.”
By Sean Kucharski