Thanksgiving Previews: KIPP happy to be part of new rivalry

KIPP's Pierro Canales fends off a defender earlier this season . (Item File Photo)

The KIPP football team remembers what happened in Week 5 of its inaugural season last year, when the Panthers were handed a 47-0 loss by Tech. Now KIPP will try to take its revenge on Thanksgiving Eve in a new all-Lynn football rivalry game.

“The guys remember last year, there’s no question about it,” said KIPP coach Jim Rabbitt. “We obviously went up against a very talented and well-coached team, and it will be no different this year. We know it’s going to take a lot, and we’re ready for it.”

Revenge aside, Rabbitt is aware of how important it is for his team and the KIPP program as a whole to be a part of an all-Lynn football rivalry on Thanksgiving.

“I think this is one of the best things about our town,” Rabbitt said. “I can’t think of any other city that has two in-city football rivalries like this. Obviously you have the more than 100-year history between English and Classical, and now to be a part of a Thanksgiving game with Tech, I think it just says so much about the football culture in this city.”

The Panthers come into the Thanksgiving game at 4-6, but don’t let that fool you. KIPP’s last three losses have each come by one touchdown, with two of those losses coming against playoff teams.

“We’ve been incredibly competitive in all of those games,” said Rabbitt. “A couple plays here and there, and we could be coming into this game at 7-3.”

The Panthers rely on a high-flying offensive attack, running a spread offense that distributes the ball to playmakers such as receiver Taj White-King and running back Daniel Oluwasuyi. White-King has logged nearly 1,000 receiving yards this season, while Oluwasuyi has multiple 100-yard games on the ground. Then there’s the quarterback duo of J’ddon Vincent and Pierro Canales, who both power the offensive machine with their legs and their arms. Offensive linemen Mike Bryce and Dave Filias round out the talented offense.

As with many high school football teams, the defense also features many of those offensive stars. Filias and Oluwasuyi lead the way at the linebacker position, while White-King has logged 10 interceptions from the safety position.

In order to take down the Tigers, KIPP knows it has to be sound on both sides of the ball.

“We know it’s going to be a difficult task and we have our work cut out for us,” Rabbitt said. “Not only is Tech talented, but they’re also well-coached. I think (Tech) Coach (James) Runner is one of the best coaches in the Commonwealth. He’s going to have his team ready to go, so we’re going to have to be prepared for a real battle.”

KIPP and Tech go head-to-head Wednesday night at Manning Field (6).

More Stories From Lynn