South Jersey Sports

Thanksgiving Week football rivalry records

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Written by Tom Williams Tuesday, November 25, 2014 12:15 pm

tgivingspirit Bill LeConey/Holy Spirit players celebrate with the Boyd-Marczyk Trophy, awarded to the winner of the Atlantic City-Holy Spirit Thanksgiving Day game, one of the oldest rivalries in New Jersey. Here's a capsule look at the Thanksgiving weekend high school football matchups, old and new. Some results reflected took place at other times during the season than Thanksgiving week.

Games played before 1918, when high school sports became organized in New Jersey, are not included in the series records.

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High school pigskin the right appetizer for Turkey Day feast

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Written by Bill LeConey Tuesday, November 25, 2014 11:55 am

tgivingfootballart Wikipedia/Thanksgiving postcard circa 1900 showing a turkey and football player. It’s not true that the Pilgrims and Indians played a lively game of touch football just before the original Thanksgiving buffet. But somewhere, somehow, football became entwined with the traditions of Thanksgiving Day in America.

Football games on Thanksgiving are nearly as old as the game itself. The first Thanksgiving Day game took place in Philadelphia in 1869 between the Young America Cricket Club and the Germantown Cricket Club.

On the local front, the feast is preceded by a delicious appetizer that comes in the form of the traditional high school football game. We have plenty of them in this area: Atlantic City-Holy Spirit; Ocean City-Pleasantville; Absegami-Oakcrest; and Egg Harbor Township-Mainland Regional.

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Football fans can give thanks

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Written by Tom Williams Monday, November 24, 2014 11:27 pm

There are lots of things that should cause football fans to give thanks.

Those from Mainland, who will watch the Mustangs host Egg Harbor Township on Thursday, can be thankful that the Mustangs won two crucial games to end the regular season and qualify for the NJSIAA playoffs. Longtime Mainland fans remember Thanksgiving battles with Oakcrest featuring the likes of George Landis, Steve Parker and Greg Buttle. And recent battles with EHT, including the first overtime Thanksgiving game. Those from EHT are thankful for the great facility they call home and memories of players like Cory Collins, Scott Parker and Aaron Bullock.

Holy Spirit fans are thankful for the two great performances by the Spartans in the NJSIAA Non-Public playoffs that have moved them into yet another championship game after a regular season in which they struggled. They remember a long tradition of football success guided by coaches like Stan Marczyk, Lou Paludi, Jim Gallagher and Ed Byrnes, among others. Atlantic City fans are thankful for their beautiful turf field and another appearance in the playoffs, led by former ACHS star Thomas Kelly.

 

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Solid effort not enough for Cedar Creek in season finale

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Written by Bill LeConey Saturday, November 22, 2014 11:08 pm

creek1 Bill LeConey/Cedar Creek senior Nate Pauls looks for tough running room against St. Augustine in Saturday's season finale. EGG HARBOR CITY – It was not the way the Cedar Creek High School Pirates hoped, or expected, to end their season - not by a long shot. But the way they played in defeat, and the dignity they showed afterwards, will carry them into the off-season and beyond.

The Pirates held their heads high after a 21-13 loss to rival St. Augustine Prep Saturday in the season finale for both teams.

“I’m not as upset as with our (earlier) losses this year because I know we fought to the end,” said senior Nate Pauls. “That’s something to hang our hats on. Everybody gave it all that they had. There’s nothing to be down about.”

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Holy Spirit stuns Holy Cross to reach fifth straight title game

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Written by Bill LeConey Saturday, November 22, 2014 12:10 pm

spirit1 Bill LeConey/Holy Spirit sophomore fullback Glen Cortese celebrates the Spartans' upset of Holy Cross on Friday night. DELRAN – Friday night’s Non-Public II semifinal between parochial powers Holy Spirit and Holy Cross had everything you need for a classic high school football game: high stakes drama on a frigid, mid-November night; big plays and dizzying momentum shifts; and finally a huge upset victory by the underdog.

All it needed was a Phil Rizzuto exclamation point: Holy cow!

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Cooper is Middle’s Mr. Versatility

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Written by Brian Cunniff Wednesday, November 19, 2014 06:51 pm

COLIN COOPER CAPE MAY COURT HOUSE – The 2014 season hasn’t gone as planned for the Middle Township High School football team. Loads of injuries and some disciplinary measures have left the team shorthanded in many of its games.

But one of the constants for the Panthers this season has been the versatile play of Colin Cooper.

Cooper is a senior defensive back, split end, halfback, punt and kick returner and punter. Offensively, while he doesn’t get the amount of touches as some of Middle’s other skill-position players, he’s made the most of his chances.

Cooper scored one of Middle’s touchdowns on a running play in its 22-0 win over Audubon in an NJSIAA consolation game late last week. Cooper ran seven times for 49 yards and his score and also caught four passes for another 47 yards. His punting was also excellent. He averaged 39.7 yards on his three kicks, with a long of 51 yards.

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Herlihy into Meet of Champions for second time

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Written by Brian Cunniff Wednesday, November 19, 2014 06:44 pm

RYAN HERLIHY Ryan Herlihy finished outside the top 10 at the state Group II cross country championship meet Saturday at Holmdel Park. But his time was good enough to qualify the senior for the Meet of Champions for the second straight year.

Herlihy finished Saturday’s race in 16 minutes, 25 seconds, recording the fastest time ever recorded at Holmdel Park by a Middle Township runner. But Herlihy had to sweat out the rest of the Saturday afternoon before finding out he had qualified for the Meet of Champions as a wild-card entry.

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MOC berth a fitting finish for WHS senior

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Written by Brian Cunniff Wednesday, November 19, 2014 06:38 pm

TREVOR GENTEK Trevor Gentek thought he had pushed himself as hard as he could. Then, he heard his coach’s voice.

“I had no energy,” the Wildwood High School senior said, describing the late stages of the Saturday’s state Group I cross country championship race at Holmdel Park. “Then all of a sudden I heard my coach (Erik Geisinger) yelling at me, ‘Come one, Trevor! Everyone’s hunting you down! Hurry up!’ At that point I just tried my hardest. I gave everything I had the last 100 meters.”

Everything he had put him into a place no other Wildwood High School runner has been.

Gentek’s 10th-place finish – out of 145 competitors – guaranteed him a berth at this weekend’s Meet of Champions, scheduled again for Holmdel Park on Saturday. Gentek is the first cross country runner from Wildwood to qualify for the race.

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Grauel, Warriors finally taste victory

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Written by Brian Cunniff Wednesday, November 19, 2014 06:30 pm

JAMES GRAUEL WILDWOOD – James Grauel left some plays out on the field in previous games.

In one game, he slipped and fell while wide open as the primary receiver on a halfback pass. In another game, he dropped a potential touchdown pass.

But last Thursday, the junior two-way starter for the Wildwood High School football finally put it all together. And so did his teammates.

Grauel scored two touchdowns and nearly scored a third on an interception return as the Warriors – a team that never dressed as many as 20 players in a game this season – won their season finale over Pleasantville, 22-6, to prevent a winless campaign.

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Holy Spirit to face top seed Holy Cross in N-P II semifinal

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Written by Bill LeConey Wednesday, November 19, 2014 05:49 pm

spirit1 Matt Strabuk/Oakcrest linebacker Kyle Miller tackles Holy Spirit quarterback Andrew Light in a CAL National game on Nov. 7. The Holy Spirit High School Spartans are trying to salvage a less-than-stellar season with a long run in the state Non-Public Group II playoff tournament.

That challenge began well for the Spartans on Saturday, Nov. 15 when they beat favored Montclair Kimberley on the road, 42-21, in an NP II quarterfinal contest.

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The Top 40 option for high school football playoffs

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Written by Tom Williams Wednesday, November 19, 2014 05:38 pm

Matt Strabuk/Holy Spirit’s Nick Cordivari tries to elude Oakcrest would-be tacklers in a Nov. 7 game. Matt Strabuk/Holy Spirit’s Nick Cordivari tries to elude Oakcrest would-be tacklers in a Nov. 7 game. Every year there are complaints about the NJSIAA football playoffs.

When they started back in the mid-1970s, the top four teams in each group with a positive win record qualified for the playoffs.

Along the way, the NJSIAA created a mathematical power rating.

In 1998, the NJSIAA started allowing eight qualifiers in each group. During the past few years, the NJSIAA dropped the requirement of a .500 record and created a fifth group for public schools.

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Cedar Creek-St. Augustine game moved up to this Saturday

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Written by Bill LeConey Wednesday, November 19, 2014 05:20 pm

creek1 Bill LeConey/Cedar Creek junior Ahmir Mitchell runs with the ball earlier this season against Oakcrest. How anxious are the Cedar Creek High School Pirates to play a meaningful football game? So anxious that they moved the season finale against St. Augustine Prep up by a week.

The game, originally scheduled for Nov. 29, will now be played at 1 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 22 in Egg Harbor City.

It's got to be a tough playoff season to stomach for the Pirates and coach Tim Watson. The Pirates were 6-2 at the NJSIAA playoff eligibility deadline but missed the eighth seed in the tough South Jersey Group II field by mere points.

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EHT Peewee Eagles capture second straight title

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Written by Staff Reports Tuesday, November 18, 2014 04:59 pm

peewee Jen Arthur/EHT’s William Clossey tries to avoid a tackle by Upper Township’s Ty Mercado. On Saturday, Nov. 15, the Egg Harbor Township Youth Organization Cape Peewee Eagles won their second straight Championship in the Cape Atlantic Junior Football League, beating Upper Township 20-6 in Marmora.

The team was led by head coach Mike Price, who stated: “The kids’ dedication, hard work, and great coaching by all of their coaches led the team to win the championship.”

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Absegami looks to end season on positive note

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Written by Bill LeConey Tuesday, November 18, 2014 04:43 pm

Bill LeConey/Absegami’s Ibn Wilkerson, left, Tyler Welch and Vinnie Nelson pose for a picture after their win over Pennsauken. Bill LeConey/Absegami’s Ibn Wilkerson, left, Tyler Welch and Vinnie Nelson pose for a picture after their win over Pennsauken. GALLOWAY TOWNSHIP - It may have been a consolation game, but the Absegami Braves played like their season was on the line in a 21-7 win over Pennsauken on Thursday, Nov. 13.

And, in a sense, it was on the line for seniors such as quarterback Tyler Welch playing in their last home game for the Braves on a cold, damp, dreary night.

"We just wanted to get our seniors a win," said junior running back/defensive back Ibn Wilkerson, who made big plays on both sides of the ball in the South Jersey Group IV consolation game for two teams that didn't make the NJSIAA playoffs.

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