Coach, players, ready to take on AC in Thanksgiving morning contest | Sports


MEDFORD – Thanksgiving Day has been a series of stops and starts in recent years for the Shawsheen Tech Football team. After their 25-year Thanksgiving rivalry with Greater Lowell ended after the 2017 season, the Rams began what they hoped was a long-standing rivalry with Austin Prep in 2018, only to see it end after a year.

Then, in 2019, the Rams took on Arlington Catholic in the first of what they hope will become a big tradition again, only to see their Thanksgiving game, like everyone else, called off last season due to the pandemic of COVID-19.

But this year, they’re set to pick up Massachusetts’ grand tradition of Thanksgiving football, when they face Arlington Catholic again on Thursday morning, with the kick-off at Hormel Stadium scheduled for 10:15 a.m.

Shawsheen coach Al Costabile, who is a huge Thanksgiving football fan like there are in Massachusetts, is eager for his team to have the opportunity to play on the field on this special day.

“We’re very excited about this,” Costabile said. “There is a void compared to last year. It just didn’t feel the same without a Thanksgiving game. I’m a traditionalist and my coaches also love the game, ”said Costabile. “Thanksgiving is a special and special day in the life of a high school football player. You cannot recreate it under any circumstances. It’s unique, and you can never find anything to replace it. It’s almost hard to put into words the feeling of playing that day.

Aside from wanting a Thanksgiving win to end their season on a high note, the Rams 5-5 will also be looking to end their season with a winning record. Not a lot of extra motivation is needed on Turkey Day, but in case they need a bit, the Rams certainly have it in their quest for a winning season.

“Absolutely, it’s a real motivator to come out of this field as a winning team, with a winning season as opposed to a losing season,” said Costabile. “It’s a huge motivation. This in itself will start the engine.

However, on their way to that Thanksgiving victory and this winning season will stand a talented Catholic team from Arlington who are far better than their record of 2-7 suggests. Two seasons ago, the Rams were in a similar situation as they entered Thanksgiving 9-2, where they faced a 2-9 Arlington Catholic team. The Rams ultimately won by a score of 14-8, but not before AC gave them everything they could handle.

AC fought for a record 1-6 in the rugged Catholic Conference, but against common opponents of the Rams they had some success, beating Lowell Catholic in their season opener by a score of 30- 18, before losing narrowly to Greater Lawrence last week. by a score of 13-0.

Shawsheen, meanwhile, beat Lowell Catholic 44-6, but also had a close game with Greater Lawrence, winning 13-0.

“It’s a talented team and it’s a tough league they come from. They play a lot of good teams in this league so we know they are better than their record, ”said Costabile. “We have historically had very close games with them. There was the Thanksgiving game a few years ago and then the year before we beat them on a basket with less than a minute to go. It’s always anyone’s game before the fourth quarter.

Billerica’s junior running back Brendan Bartolami and junior quarterback Isaiah Osgood will lead the way for Arlington’s Catholic offense.

“We have to tackle well with him. They have a really good running threat every time he’s in the game. He is a very athletic child. He has good speed and he can take it home from anywhere, ”said Costabile. “They like to flaunt it and their quarterback is a really good athlete. He is a double threat. He can throw it as well as execute it, and these two are leaving their team. If we want to compete with them, we have to contain these two guys, or we’re going to have a long day. “

A few years ago, when Greater Lowell and then Austin Prep each gave up their rivalry with Shawsheen for Thanksgiving Day, the Rams were left in limbo. But luckily for them, Arlington Catholic was also looking for an opponent for Thanksgiving Day. Costabile couldn’t have been happier to start a new tradition with AC, especially after having already established a big rivalry with the Cougars, having faced them for several years in showdowns earlier in the season.

“It’s a great rivalry. I think in my first 22 years here we played them 18 times and they were always good games, ”said Costabile. “And geographically, they’re closer to us than any team in our league other than Minuteman. Some of the children know each other because they have children from the Merrimack Valley. We were disappointed to lose Greater Lowell as a Thanksgiving opponent, but taking AC was a good thing.

The best thing of course is that after a year of absence, the Rams and other Massachusetts teams will be playing on Thanksgiving morning. And that in itself, says Costabile, is cause for celebration.

“Nobody likes to play at 10:00 am, but on Thanksgiving, nobody minds. When it starts at 10:30 am in September or October, everyone is angry, but at Thanksgiving it’s a different thing,” he said. Costabile said. “When I get here that morning, which is usually around 6:30 am, there are kids arriving ten minutes after me. The music is blaring in less than ten minutes. Everyone’s excited about it.

“And when it’s your last game like it is for us, the end hits you kind of. It is also an emotional day, because it is often the last time these children play football.

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