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Football batters Brookline in annual Thanksgiving game

North+players+pose+with+the+trophy+after+their+victory.
North players pose with the trophy after their victory.

Football closed out the season with a 42-21 victory against Brookline on the 129th annual Thanksgiving Day rivalry football game, Thursday, Nov. 23 in Brookline.

Established in 1894, the game against Brookline is among the oldest high school football rivalries in the country, according to Barry House Dean Nick Capodilupo, the football head coach. “The only times we didn’t play were during certain World Wars, and then we didn’t play during COVID,” added Capodilupo.

The Thanksgiving game is the most anticipated game of the season, according to senior Hayden Willen, a quarterback, and a captain along with seniors Nate Day and DJ Harvey.  “The game is everything to us. It’s set from the beginning of the season, and it’s always our top team goal to beat Brookline.”

This year, the Tigers achieved their goal and beat Brookline by 21 points. “Our players played really well. They had a good practice week, and they showed up to the game prepared, and they did all the things we asked them to do,” said Capodilupo.

Before the game started, the team met at 6:00 a.m. to have breakfast together. “One of the things we do at that moment is talk about how grateful we are to have all this support,” said Capodilupo. “I always tell our players that any time we have an event like that, families don’t have to do this stuff for us, but they’re here supporting you.”

To begin the game, North pulled ahead and established an early lead. By halftime, the score was 28-7.

Willen had an impressive game, throwing three touchdown passes and running for two more. “The runs aren’t always planned, a lot of times it’s a breakdown somewhere, and I see an opening and I’ll cut it and make a run,” said Willen.

The Tigers were excellent on offense, according to Capodilupo. “Offensively, we felt like we had to establish possession of the ball, and drive down and score a lot of points, and we were able to do that,” he said.

According to Willen, the team rallied together to support each other on both sides of the ball. “Our defense helped our offense, and our offense helped our defense even though they’re not on the field at the same time. We were all one big team.”

On the field, the players maintained focused and positive attitudes, according to Capodilupo. “When we did see a little bit of adversity, they bounced back, they were OK, they stayed upbeat, they stayed motivated and were very coachable,” he added.

In the stands, players from prior years came to support the current team. “We have a lot of former players come back and check in, and I don’t have to push them to do that, they just do,” said Capodilupo.

The end of the game marked the end of the seniors’ football careers at North. “There was a lot of emotion from our players, especially when the seniors were coming off the field towards the end. It’s exciting, but there’s also a sadness to that because it’s an ending,” said Capodilupo.

According to Willen, he feels content about this game being his final one as a Tiger. “It’s a good feeling to go off on. That’s what you remember your legacy as. It was a great final game to have had as a team to beat Brookline like that.”

Many students and coaches feel a personal connection to the game. According to Capodilupo, “there are players on our team who had parents who played in the game, even grandparents who played in the game.”

Capodilupo’s father, Peter Capodilupo, was the former head coach of the football team from 1984 to 2014, so he has been going to the Thanksgiving Day rivalry games for as long as he can remember. “I remember Thanksgiving feeling ruined when we lost to them, and I associated a good Thanksgiving with us winning and it would be the greatest thing in the world in our house,” he said.

This was the Tiger’s final game of the season, and their final record was 2-9. They will look to start where they left off this season and improve their record next season.

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About the Contributor
Shira Lobron, Sports managing editor
Shira is currently a junior at Newton North High School. Outside of school, she volunteers at Gateways, a Hebrew school for kids with disabilities, participates in STEMentors, is a co-President of the Jewish Student Union, and is a member of the ultimate frisbee team as well as the nordic ski team. Her favorite book of all time is Looking for Alaska and her favorite artist is Taylor Swift. She highly enjoys her statistics and English classes and is looking forward to spending her second semester in Israel. She loves her pet rabbit Buzz and her Volume 101 team!
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