By KYLE SULLENDER
Special to The Sun
Thanksgiving football is a tradition carried out across the country in nearly every home, whether it be watching the nationally broadcasted NFL games, heading outside and playing your own or going out to see a local high school face its rival.
Football is as closely related to Thanksgiving as turkey is to gravy.
However this year, Cherry Hill changed the tides and played its annual Thanksgiving game the evening before.
Cherry Hill West and East have played each other on Thanksgiving morning for decades.
The game was held at West’s stadium, which used to be shared between the two schools.
There is no home or away team, as Cherry Hill residents from both sides of town piled into the stadium to cheer on their relatives and friends.
But players see this game as a far more emotional battle than any of their other games throughout the season; this game attracts nearly double the attention and pins students against friends they’ve had their whole lives. And for some seniors, it was the last football game they’ll ever play.
On Wednesday, Nov. 23, Cherry Hill West players stormed the field through a tunnel of cheerleaders.
After playing the National Anthem, East players saluted by holding their helmets above their heads and then took the field.
The game began with the ball in East’s possession. The crowd roared as the first snap was taken, and the first ball was completed 20 yards down field to Brian Regan.
The Cougars continued to march downfield until a fourth and short attempt was harassed at the line and stopped by West in Lions’ territory.
The game stayed deadlocked on both the scoreboard and the field for most of the first half. Neither team was moving the ball consistently, nor could they come up with the big play to sway momentum in their direction.
As a result, the score stayed locked at zero until 9 seconds remained in the half. From the one-yard line, Brian Regan crossed the plane to put the Cougars ahead 7–0 after the extra point.
The second half however was not so even; just under four minutes into the third quarter, East’s Regan ran in a 60-yard touchdown and advanced the lead by two scores.
In the fourth quarter, quarterback Jesse Gold threw a 44-yard touchdown pass to Robert Taylor, and ran four yards for one of his own.
Meanwhile, the Lions remained scoreless though to the end.
After four consecutive victories over Cherry Hill East, West surrendered “The Boot,” the infamous bronze shoe awarded to the winning school, in a 27–0 loss.
Regan ran for 168 yards on 23 carries and surpassed Mike Drake’s season rushing record for East (1,440 yards) with his total of 1,534.
For East, the day was one of fantasy, a game to remember until next August when training camp begins. But for West, things will not be so sweet.
The loss ends West’s season with a 2–8 record.
“I just feel the worst for the seniors,” said West safety Jimmy Verzicco. “That was the last game they’ll play for West.”
Kyle is a junior at Cherry Hill West and co-sports editor of the school’s newspaper, “The Lion’s Roar.”