No feeling of finality for Pennridge this Thanksgiving
Not to discredit the passionate rivalry between Pennridge and Quakertown, but this football season has taught us that feasting on Panther Thanksgiving morning may not be the ultimate reason the 82 meetings prior to this Thursday have been so special for the Rams.
Seniors know there is at least one more game awaiting them after they play the Panthers, and even though the game will be for sole possession of the Suburban One Continental Conference league title, the feeling of fiQDOiWy is QRW WhHrH.
On Saturday the Rams will host Spring-Ford in the District One Class AAAA sHPifiQDOs. YHs, WhHy wDQW WR wiQ WhH OHDJuH RuWriJhW. YHs, they want to taint the PanWhHrs’ fiQDO JDPH DW AOuPQi Field. But no, it will not be the last game for the Rams.
“2ur firsW JRDO is WR wiQ the league and we are up for the challenge,” Rams’ senior captain John Dubyk said. “It is Quakertown’s last game and I know they will be ready. Hopefully we can get off to a good start and get everybody a chance to play.”
PriRr WR WhH RDPs’ firsW sHPifiQDO DSSHDrDQFH siQFH 2004, nearly ever Ram on the roster pointed to previous Thanksgiving games as their favorite football memory. While playing the Panthers may not be ideal, once they hit the frozen grass Thursday morning with the Quakertown fans firHd uS, DQd HxWHQdHd IDP-
family back home, it will be impossible to not remember why this game is such a big part of this community.
“Records are thrown out in a rivalry game,” junior tackle Shane Kraynik said. “Last year was pretty special because it was at the end of the season when both teams had nothing to play for. vou just wanted to beat your crosstown rival.”
The 83rd annual meeting may put a twist to tradition, but a few things will not change. The Wednesday QLJKW ERQfirH Ls sWLOO sFKHGuled, the two communities will take up every inch of the bleachers, and the players will still never forget the morning they played the Panthers.
“vou look around and it’s a zoo,” Kraynik said. “The game has an amazing atmosphere. I think it is a great game and it shouldn’t go anywhere.”
Rams’ senior Andy Graff came up through the Pennridge Greenjackets youth football program, but does not recall attending the Thanksgiving football game until he reached high school and learned from his elder classmen what the game was all about. Graff learned the game was one last time to go to battle with teammates that have become family.
“Once I got into ninth grade I started supporting Pennridge more,” Graff said. “My brother Rusty always went to the games. My family is gigantic and we usually eat on Friday because of the game, but I think this year we are going to try and squeeze it in.”
The Rams’ ability to harp on the meaning of family this season has them in this predicament all teams would wish upon themselves. Graff and John Dubyk headline a talented defense, but it is the Rams’ cohesiveness that has helped them take the program to uncharted heights.
“I have played football sLQFH , wDs fiYH DQG WKLs Ls the best team I have ever played on,” Graff said. “Every year there seems to EH sRPH FRQflLFW, EuW WKLs year there has not been any. We all are in high spirits and just loved. These are my brothers.”
Spring-Ford also will play Thanksgiving eve, which may ease coach Cuthbert’s mind slightly knowing their sHPLfiQDO RSSRQHQW Ls LQ WKH same boat. However coach wRuOG OLNH WR fiQG D wDy WR accommodate the best of both worlds.
Coach has thrown out the idea of scheduling Quakertown in week four and on Thanksgiving in case a special season like this happens again. Cuthbert recognizes the importance of Thanksgiving football to the community, but also recognizes how exceptional the group he has is this year.
“It is not ideal to have two games in three days,” Cuthbert said. “There is a good argument to not have a Thanksgiving Day game anymore. The one year when you have a special group of kids and now we are in a bad spot.”
With the site for the Thanksgiving game alternating in year, Poppy voder was not supposed to get so much activity in November. But thanks to the Rams’ playoff run, they now have extended time at their beloved home beyond the fourth Thursday in November.
“I am emotional because I went to South Middle School and have been playing at Poppy voder since seventh grade,” Graff sDLG. “TKH fiHOG PHDQs something to all of us. It is our home.”
And home, with family, at Thanksgiving is where everyone wants to be.