CRANSTON, R.I. (WPRI) — Most people think Thanksgiving and football go hand-in-hand, but this year, high school teams won’t be taking to the field Thursday morning like they have in years past.
Rivalries between a number of high schools statewide date back decades, and typically, the Thanksgiving game is one of the most hyped-up games of the season.
For many high schools across the Ocean State, this year will be the first time in a long time that the fields are empty on Thanksgiving morning.
Tom Milewski, head coach of the Cranston West High School’s football team, said he hasn’t missed a Thanksgiving rivalry game in 28 years. His rival Tom Centore, head coach of the Cranston East High School football team, hasn’t missed the contest since he was 7 years old.
“In Cranston, we are lucky we play a healthy rivalry with Cranston East, so it’s intense,” Milewski said. “It’s a right of passage a lot of us went through. We’re missing out on that and they also don’t get their senior send-off. It will be rescheduled to the spring, but it may not be the same.”
“I know they’re discouraged,” Centore added. “They wish they were playing…It’s a big deal. There’s nothing like the Thanksgiving game.”
Milewski and Centore aren’t the only two coaches missing out on their rivalry game this year. Westerly and Stonington high schools haven’t missed a Thanksgiving game since 1911, and Coventry and West Warwick high schools have been playing since 1948.
LaSalle Academy and East Providence High School have been battling it out on Thanksgiving since 1929.
LaSalle head coach Geoff Marcone tells 12 News, “it’s been a long time since this game hasn’t been played on Thanksgiving.”
Although the coaches said they’re happy their teams were able to practice up until this month, they said they’re also thinking about the players, parents and alumni who are affected by the cancelation.
They’re hoping the lessons they learned in football will help them through this difficult time.
“Football is a parallel of life,” Milewski said. “It teaches you to deal with adversity and they’ve had it, but I do feel for them and they will lose a tradition that’s gone on in Cranston since 1973.”