By Joseph Santoliquito
Philadelphia, PA (CBS)-Over the last five years, the PIAA district playoffs have wiped out a portion of what used to be an annual Thanksgiving Day tradition between neighboring rival schools.
Now Thanksgiving Day games serve as a consolation prize to those teams whose seasons haven’t progressed to district or regional championships.
More importantly, and on a far deeper level, it’s offered seniors who will not play in college that last, final chance to play organized football.
It’s why these games shouldn’t be missed and why they’re still honored by alumni returning home to see family and former players looking up old friends.
Here is a look at some of the best Thanksgiving Day games in the area:
Upper Darby (8-3) at Haverford High School (7-3), 10:45 AM.
Haverford is looking to win its fourth-straight Thanksgiving Day game. These games, regardless of record, always tend to be exciting. Upper Darby had a great season and was knocked out of the District 1 Class AAAA playoffs and will be looking to stop the run Haverford has been on. The Royals lead the series, 43-42-6, so a Haverford victory would tie the all-time mark.
Archbishop Ryan (7-3) at George Washington (5-5), 10 AM.
Ryan has beaten powerhouses Archbishop Wood and St. Joseph’s Prep and the Raiders are looking to close strong against the Eagles. Ryan holds a 26-9-1 series lead and it also features speedy tandem Bobby Romano and Samir Bullock.
Interboro (5-5) at Ridley (6-4), 10:30 AM.
This one-time Delaware County staple has been sporadic in recent years due to the success of both programs. The last time the teams played was in 2011. Ridley holds a 32-11 series lead. From 1965-92, Ridley once held a 27-1 series lead against the Bucs.
Central (6-5) at Northeast (5-6), 10 AM.
Central hasn’t beaten Northeast since 2004.
Father Judge (6-4) at Lincoln (5-6), 10 AM.
Lincoln hasn’t beaten Judge since 1989. The Crusaders own a 34-3-1 series edge.
Quakertown (6-4) at Pennridge (7-4), 10:15 AM.
This marks the last time standout Mike Class will play in a Pennridge uniform. All he’s done is break school rushing record on his way to 5,483 yards. Pennridge has dominated this series, 52-26-5.
Imhotep (10-1) vs. Martin Luther King (9-3), 10:30 AM.
Imhotep Charter may opt to go with the twos and threes early, since the District 12 champion Panthers have Catasauqua in the PIAA Class AA state quarterfinals two days later, on Saturday at 1 p.m. at Germantown High School.
Joseph Santoliquito is a contributing sports blogger for CBS Philly.