For a game that means nothing to the Wilmington High School football team, Thursday’s Thanksgiving Day game means everything.
Continuing a tradition that dates back about 80 years, the Wildcats will battle bitter rival Tewksbury in the team’s final contest of the season. Wilmington enters the game at 6-3 overall, 4-1 in Middlesex League small school play.
“It’s the playoffs, it’s the Super Bowl, it’s wining that Turkey Day trophy and getting to show it off in the case. That’s basically our Super Bowl trophy,” said senior quarterback Matt Ferreira. “It’s definitely a lot better day if we win the game.”
Tewksbury is heading in the opposite direction as its border rival. The Redmen are postseason bound and looking to extend their season with another win after handling business on Turkey Day.
Wilmington head coach Mike Barry said the result of the game Thursday morning directly impacts how festive he’s feeling when Thanksgiving dinner arrives.
“It definitely shapes the day. A win makes it a lot more fun to go over to the relatives,” said Barry. “Whenever you have that amount of tradition in one game, obviously it’s important. The kids understand that, especially the seniors playing their last game. Emotionally we should be ready to go.”
Senior running back John Parsons will be a critical piece to the Wildcat attack. Parsons amassed more than 1,000 yards on the ground this year and found the end zone with regularity.
In addition, he’s a main cog as a linebacker for a hard hitting Wilmington defense. Parsons said the team has been looking forward to revenge from last year’s game all season. The team will get that chance with a 10 a.m. kickoff in Tewksbury.
“This game it doesn’t matter what your record is. We could have gone 0-9 but as long as we won this game, it’d be a season accomplished I guess,” said Parsons. “This game is always the biggest one, just because we hate Tewksbury.”