SWANSEA, Mass. (WPRI) — It’s the end of an era for two high school football teams as their 90-year Thanksgiving Day rivalry is officially called off.
John Robidoux, superintendent of Swansea Public Schools, told 12 News Tuesday that Joseph Case High School will not play Somerset Berkley Regional High School this Thanksgiving.
“We decided that it is time to create a new tradition and play a team that is closer in divisional play for our athletes,” Robidoux said in a statement.
From now on, Robidoux said Division VII Joseph Case will play against Divsion VIII Atlantis Charter School co-op team.
Robidoux said the new rivalry makes more sense and “provides an opportunity for all athletes involved to have a competitive game and to establish ties with a community that allows us to build a new tradition.”
Joseph Case and Somerset Berkley “have decided to part ways in an amicable fashion,” according to Robidoux.
“It was apparent, many years ago, that the inequity that is created by playing a team four divisions apart creates an atmosphere that is not conducive to high school athletics,” Robidoux explained.
Robidoux said Joseph Case has only won two rivalry games against Somerset Berkley over the last two decades, with the Division III team winning the other 18.
Jeffrey Schoonover, superintendent of the Somerset Berkley Regional School District, said the decision took them by surprise.
“They’ve been talking about this for several years, which we just learned of in December,” Schoonover said. “Had we known they were discussing this and considering this, maybe we would have been able to resolve something, or at least come up with a plan to change it.”
“To end it is a big deal for everyone,” he continued.
Schoonover tells 12 News Somerset Berkley has reached out to other teams to try and find a new Thanksgiving Day opponent.
Somerset Berkley football coach Nick Freitas said the decision to end the rivalry is disappointing, adding that finding a new rival isn’t as easy as it sounds.
“It’s very difficult,” Freitas said. “Usually Thanksgiving opponents are locked in.”