Thousands of western Mass. fans, family, and friends gathered ofr the annual high school football Thanksgiving rivalry games. Some teams are approaching their hundredth holiday meeting, others met for the first time, while two teams met for the last time. The decades-old rivalries were re-fueled against an emotional back-drop of many seniors suiting up for their last game.
In Agawam, those emotions ran high as the Brownies took on the West Springfield Terriers. It's the 91st time the teams have met on Thanksgiving and Agawam was hoping to finish on a high note, after their undefeated season came to an end in the D-IV Western Mass final against Chicopee Comp.
However, the Brownies found themselves trailing in the third quarter, as West Springfield quarterback Anthony Costa ran in a touchdown to put the Terriers up 24-7.
Agawam stuck to what they did best: run the ball. A touchdown from running back Chris Morassi brought the Brownies to within 10. But it would be the next play that set the tone for the rest of the game. The ensuing kick-off was fielded by Costa who raced towards the Agawam coverage team. As he cut up-field, Marino Cipriani put his helmet on the ball, knocking it loose and into the hands of the Brownies.
Running back Nick Scuderi turned the turnover into points with a touchdown run and Agawam was within four. The Brownies defense held strong and the drive that followed was capped off by a long touchdown run by running back Marcus Williams. Just like that, Agawam held a 27-24 lead.
Morassi would add another touchdown, forcing Costa to go to the air. A touchdown pass for the Terriers, followed by a two-point conversion, made it a two-point game. The Terriers tried the on-sides kick, but the Brownies recovered and secured the 34-32 win.
"This is a great game to win," quarterback Troy Galleraini said after the emotional win. "We really needed this we really wanted this and I'm so glad we were able to bring it back for our team."
"Even though we lost to Comp," Chris Morassi told Western Mass News, "beating West Side was basically one of the best feelings you can have when you play football. Beating your rival is awesome."
In Longmeadow, one of the most heated rivalries in western Mass. played out on the field. East Longmeadow was hoping to avenge their Week 3 loss to the Lancers on Thanksgiving. They were hoping to send their head coach Scott Raymond out in style in his last Thanksgiving game, as he plans to retire at the conclusion fo the 2015 season.
In his final game, Coach Raymond got to see his running back Mike Maggipinto run his way into the record books. On the Spartans' very first play from scrimmage, Maggipinto broke through the line and became the state's second all-time leading rusher with 6,462 career rushing yards, trailing only former Holyoke running back Cedric Washington.
Thursday's game, however, was all about defense. The Spartans broke the scoreless tie in the second quarter when they pressured Longmeadow quarterback Scott Elder and forced him to try to throw it away. However, the pass went backwards and Riley Held fell on the ball in the end zone for a touchdown.
Maggipinto broke free towards the end of the half for a long touchdown run, giving East Longmeadow a 13-0 halftime lead. That touchdown turned out to be the difference maker, after Longmeadow's Dominic Santaniello scored the only second-half touchdown. East Longmeadow wins 13-6, giving Coach Raymond a win in his final outing.
South Hadley also got revenge on Thanksgiving, taking on Chicopee Comp. The Colts sat many of their key starters, as they prepare for the D-IV State Championship game on Dec. 5. Nonetheless, the Tigers looked impressive, running all over the Colts defense.
Teddy Doyle's scamper in the 3rd quarter pushed him past the 1,000-yard rushing mark on the season. The next drive, he took it all the way for a touchdown.
Kenneth Mitchell took over the quarterback duties, as Trevor Johnson rested on the bench. He manufactured two late touchdowns, one coming on a long run, and the other on a deep touchdown pass to Dylan Harrison.
South Hadley took the win by a score of 56-14. It's the first time they've bested the Colts on Thanksgiving in the last four years.
In the area's oldest Thanksgiving rivalry, Athol got the better of Mahar 24-6 on two first-half touchdowns from Robbie Nelson.
In the area's newest Thanksgiving rivalry, Northampton pounded Easthampton by a score of 44-6.
You can find all the highlights, scores, and reaction by clicking on the Friday Football Fever link at westernmassnews.com. All of us at Western Mass News hope you've had a wonderful Thanksgiving and we thank you for joining us throughout this season of high school football coverage.
A complete recap of Thanksgiving high school football games from across western Mass., as annual rivalries are renewed.More >>