FOOTBALL: The Thanksgiving tradition endures … and elevates

FOOTBALL: The Thanksgiving tradition endures … and elevates

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Welcome to just another Thanksgiving of high school football and one unlike any that’s come before.

They are both beautiful things.

Turkey Day tradition, close to being undermined by playoff football not too long ago, is alive and well in Connecticut.

Locally, it’s even better. For the first time since the six area teams began playing each other on Thanksgiving, all three local games are likely to feature a team heading to the postseason.

In the case of the 60th annual Stoddard Bowl in Meriden and the 46th annual Carini Bowl in Wallingford, it’s not just likely. It’s definite.

Maloney (8-1) has qualified in Class L. Sheehan (8-1) has qualified in Class M.

It doesn’t matter what happens today for the Spartans and Titans in their rivalry games with Platt (4-5) and Lyman Hall (5-4). They will play in next Tuesday’s CIAC quarterfinals. Opponents and locations are all that remain to be determined.

The 22nd annual Apple Classic between Southington and Cheshire is where “likely” enters the lexicon. The winner of this game, which has sent a team to the playoffs for 14 of its 21 years, will likely be the eighth and final seed in Class LL.

The “if” centers on Fairfield Prep. The Jesuits sit smack dab between No. 8 Southington (7-2) and No. 10 Cheshire (6-3) in the Class LL points.

If Prep (7-2) loses today to favored West Haven (8-1), it’s open and shut. The Apple Classic winner is in.

If Prep pulls an upset, bonus points from other games settle the issue. The Rams do not want that. They can not catch Prep if it comes to bonus points. The Blue Knights have a good chance to stay ahead of Prep. It is not, however, 100 percent guaranteed.

If Southington and Prep win today, the following games settle the score (with the Blue Knights wanting the teams listed first to win and the Jesuits pulling for the latter):

■Manchester/East Hartford■Enfield/South Windsor■North Haven/Amity■Lyman Hall/Sheehan■NFA/New London■Bridgeport Central/Harding

There is a chance Southington and Prep will finish tied. At the moment, the Blue Knights hold more tiebreaker points.

The math, if needed, can come later. For now, players just need to live in the moment of Thanksgiving, especially the seniors. Fans would be wise to do so, too

“The important thing for me is I want my guys to understand that they need to embrace every part of it,” as Cheshire coach Don Drust said. “It’s hard to understand how fast something’s going to go until it’s gone. At this point now, the end of the tunnel is there. You can see it. I just keep telling my guys, ‘You’ve got to go out to practice every day and enjoy every part of it; have pride in putting on that football shirt and just work as hard as you can.”

Platt and Lyman Hall hang up the uniforms after today’s games. So will the loser of the Apple Classic.

Maloney will prepare for its first postseason appearance since 2006, Sheehan for its first since 1995.

The Apple Classic winner will either extend a playoff streak (Southington: six in a row) or revive a tradition (Cheshire: first trip since winning seventh state championship in 2009).

Likely, one or the other will happen at the Apple Classic.

Another chapter in the fine tradition of Thanksgiving football across Connecticut? That will definitely occur.

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