Guest column: Tigers, Warriors clash in annual Thanksgiving game

by Josh Slavin,
Sagamore sports editor

Since 1894, before mass production of automobiles and the Wright brothers’ flight, Brookline and North have squared off on the football field, making it one of the oldest rivalries in the nation.

To Brookline’s coach Kevin Mahoney, this rivalry is what makes the annual Thanksgiving Day showdown so significant.

“You’re playing for more than yourself,” Mahoney said. “You’re playing for your alumni and for the other people who have worn the uniform.”

While the team hasn’t had too much success overall in recent years, it has won two of the last three Thanksgiving Day match-ups. Rather than focusing on the season as a whole, Mahoney preaches the importance of the single game on Thanksgiving Day.

“We try to stress to our kids the importance of the Newton North game,” Mahoney said. “We say it’s like three different seasons: the off-season, the regular season and then the Newton North game, which is a whole other season unto itself.”

According senior Scott Cordner, a captain with seniors Ailson Carvalho, Tyler Cole and Myles LaFranc, the coaching staff tells the team every year that the team’s record going into the final game is insignificant.

“The Thanksgiving Day game is a whole different game because people have a whole different attitude towards it,” Cordner said. “You could be a 0-10 team like we were in 2010 and come in and beat opponents by three touchdowns.”

According to Mahoney, there are 16 seniors on the team this year, forming a strong graduating class that has displayed good leadership.

“This senior class has done a lot of good things as far as training year round, lifting weights and doing things that it takes to be a successful football team,” Mahoney said.

As the freshmen team in 2009, the current senior class was the only team at any level to have a winning record since 2004.

Cordner agreed that the senior class has set a good example for underclassmen.

“All the seniors go to practice and do well in school,” Cordner said. “We really have a good track record in school in terms of being real student-athletes.”

Not only is the Thanksgiving Day showdown the final game of the season for both sides, but for many seniors it’s the culmination of their football careers, according to Cordner.

“The intensity level is definitely ratcheted up a lot more,” Mahoney said. “The hitting is a lot harder because it’s the last game of the year for both teams. For the vast majority of seniors on both sides it’s the last time they’ll ever play football.”

For Cordner, who would like to play football collegiately, the final high school game holds a huge significance partially because of the bond he has forged with his teammates.

“That’s the most people you’re ever going to play in front of in high school,” Cordner said. “You’re part of one of the oldest rivalries in the country, and it’s your last game with all of your friends. In college you might play football, but you haven’t know those guys your whole life. In high school, you’ve known these kids your whole life so it’s a huge deal for everybody involved.”

The combination of many factors is what makes this game and rivalry so intense.

Mahoney said, “To finish off your career, being against your biggest rival in a rivalry that’s over 100 years old–that just makes the stakes that much higher.”

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