NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

Sports

November 21, 2012

Legacies are left on Thanksgiving

I’ve never minded working on Thanksgiving because it always seems to put the entire football season in the proper perspective. Missing it would be like walking out of a movie theater 10 minutes before the end of the movie to beat the traffic.

Alumni and proud parents fill the stadiums on Thanksgiving, and there’s always a great deal of discussion of previous Thanksgiving matchups. You’ll hear about the beginning of the Amesbury-Newburyport rivalry in the 1800s, and then you’ll hear about Amesbury’s 99-6 victory over Newburyport in 1951. A Newburyport alumni who played in the 1970s will tell you about how it wasn’t even a competitive rivalry in his day. And you might find an Amesbury alumnus from 2007 or 2008 who will tell the story of how the Indians kept the Clippers out of the postseason.

Those stories set the proper tone for the day.

As football coaches and players reflect on their careers — or even particular seasons — it always seems to start with a Thanksgiving Day memory. A team can add an exclamation point to an already successful season with a strong holiday performance. On the other hand, a struggling team can limp to the finish with a disappointing performance against its biggest rival.

Tomorrow’s games, more than any other game this season, will dictate how the local teams, coaches and players will be remembered. Take Amesbury, for instance. The Indians have had an “absolutely fabulous” season to date, in the words of coach Thom Connors. A Thanksgiving Day win over Newburyport would reinforce that belief, while a loss would put an asterik next to the team’s strong finish in October and November.

With a win, Newburyport could erase all of the frustration accrued from the loss of its star quarterback Connor Wile due to a shoulder injury last spring. Wile is back, and the Clippers would get a clean slate for the postseason.

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