By TOM WILLIAMS
Thanksgiving football traditions continue this week among Cape-Atlantic League teams.
Through the years undefeated teams have lost, championships have been decided and lifetime memories have been made on Thanksgiving morning and, occasionally, on the night before or a day or two after.
There are only six games this week, one on Wednesday night and five on Thursday. Bridgeton, Buena, Cedar Creek, St. Augustine and St. Joseph no longer play Thanksgiving games.
This year Absegami and Oakcrest have decided to play on Wednesday night in a game Absegami needs to win for a .500 season. Last year Mainland and Egg Harbor Township played on the night before Thanksgiving but EHT athletics director Mike Pellegrino moved the game back to its traditional Thursday morning schedule this year.
This week’s Millville-Vineland game will decide the championship of the West Jersey Football League’s Continental Division. If the Thunderbolts win they will win the division outright. A win by the Fighting Clan would create a three-way tie between Millville, Vineland and St. Augustine for the championship.
Ocean City and Pleasantville are both playing on Thanksgiving to complete strong seasons; Middle is trying to finish at .500 and Lower Cape May hopes to end a five-game Thanksgiving losing streak; Mainland and EHT both need the win to finish difficult seasons on a positive note; and Atlantic City hopes to complete a winning season while Holy Spirit tries to shake off another tough NJSIAA playoff loss with a season-ending victory.
In addition to Oakcrest-Absegami, there are eight other rivalry games on Wednesday night. Aside from the five Thanksgiving Day games featuring CAL teams, there are 17 others in South Jersey Thursday morning. Two more are played on Friday and one on Saturday.
You can listen to Middle Township-Lower Cape May on 98.7-The Coast. Holy Spirit-Atlantic City will be live on 1450 AM. Vineland-Millville can be heard on 1440 AM. Mainland-EHT is being broadcast by 101.3 FM. And 97.3-ESPN will be on the air starting at 10 with live reports from all the games.
Football on Thanksgiving week, especially on Thursday morning, is special. For many alumni it will be the only game they see and for many others the only game they will remember.
Players will be playing in games this week in which their fathers and grandfathers played before them. And that, more than anything else, is what rivalry football is all about.
ABSEGAMI leads OAKCREST, 22-18 – 41st meeting
At Stake: Joe Mohr Memorial Trophy
Absegami has won 2 straight
Kickoff: 6pm at Absegami Stadium, Galloway Township
2016 Result: Absegami, 27-26
First Thanksgiving Meeting: 1983
ATLANTIC CITY leads HOLY SPIRIT, 51-33 (4 ties) 89th meeting
At Stake: John Boyd-Stan Marczyk Memorial Trophy
Holy Spirit has won 1 straight
Kickoff: 10am at Jack Eisenstein Complex
2016 Result: Holy Spirit, 29-25
First Thanksgiving Meeting: 1931
MAINLAND leads EGG HARBOR TOWNSHIP, 22-11 (1 tie) 35th meeting
At Stake: Kiwanis Club Trophy
Mainland has won 2 straight
Kickoff: 10am at Bruce W. Wohlrab Complex
2016 Result: Mainland, 13-7
First Thanksgiving Meeting: 1983
OCEAN CITY leads PLEASANTVILLE, 49-40 (6 ties) 96th meeting
At Stake: Mike Slaveski-Bob Thomas Memorial Trophy
Ocean City has won 3 straight
Kickoff: 10am at Carey Stadium
2016 Result: Ocean City, 24-8
Thanksgiving Meetings: 1921-90/1996-2016 (played once before 1918)
MIDDLE TOWNSHIP leads LOWER CAPE MAY, 58-34 (5 ties) 98th meeting
At Stake: Anchor Trophy
Middle Township has won 5 straight
Kickoff: 10am at Steve Steger Field
2016 Result: Middle Township, 58-7
First Thanksgiving Meeting: 1987
MILLVILLE leads VINELAND, 45-43 (10 ties) 99th meeting
Vineland has won 1 straight
2016 Result: Vineland, 45-28
Kickoff: 10:30am at Wheaton Field
First Thanksgiving Meeting: 1930 (played 45 times before 1918)
Only games played since the NJSIAA was formed in 1918 are included in these rivalry records.