Sports

Krause: Thanksgiving football doesn’t mean what it used to

Here are some leftovers to munch on as we clear our refrigerators from Thursday’s bout of overcooking and overindulging …

If there’s any doubt about where Thanksgiving football falls on the MIAA’s priority list, here’s something to consider.

Swampscott, Gloucester and St. Mary’s all played Super Bowl qualifying games last Saturday. All three lost on Thanksgiving — and were defeated by rather one-sided scores, and by teams that weren’t appreciably better — record-wise —  than they were.

St. Mary’s may have been victimized by a perfect storm. The Spartans were trying to recover from Saturday’s win over Cohasset that qualified them for the Division 7 Super Bowl next Saturday. At least six starters didn’t even play as the coaching staff held them out, partly — I’m sure — out of safety concerns and probably so they’d have a shot at being healthy for the championship game.

On the other hand, this was Fenwick’s last game of the season, against a league rival, and with the league (Catholic Central Large) title on the line. The Crusaders hadn’t played in a week and a half.

This isn’t to say that the Crusaders wouldn’t have won if all things had been equal. They very well might have. The game was at Fenwick, and the Crusaders hadn’t beaten St. Mary’s since 2015. They were 8-2 heading into the game and one of the area’s best teams all season.

But all things weren’t equal, and one suspects that the score (60-0) might have been a bit closer if they were.

Similarly, as far as the eye could see, there wasn’t a tremendous amount of difference between Swampscott and Marblehead (both came into their game with only two losses). Many thought the Big Blue were poised to snap a 5-game Thanksgiving losing streak.

But again, Swampscott had a tough game against Division 5 power Scituate last Saturday while Marblehead rested. Is it a coincidence that the Magicians won, 30-14?

Finally, Gloucester had been rolling along until the Fishermen ran into — and lost to — Nashoba Valley last Saturday in the Division 4 state semifinal.

So what happens? Danvers — which made it to the Division 3 North final two weeks ago — played host to the Fishermen Thursday, and won, 20-0.

Maybe there’s a connection, maybe there isn’t. But I submit there is.

So here it is, in the starkest terms possible: If you’re going to minimize Thanksgiving to the point where you create mismatches where there shouldn’t be any, then don’t bother. Leave us alone and let us celebrate our holidays in the comfort of our homes instead of making people tap dance around a four-hour time block. It’s not fair.

The games don’t mean anything anymore. The postseason pairings are all set. These games are merely for show, with all the inherent risks people take by playing in them.

Can we please think about that?

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Lynn English has now pitched a shutout for eight straight quarters against Classical. The 12-0 victory Thursday might not be as noteworthy as the 38-0 win a year before in some ways, but in other ways it is. You had to think Classical would have been fired up to avenge the 2017 shellacking. For English to hold the Rams to zero points under those circumstances was especially impressive.

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One has to imagine the folks in Saugus are extremely happy this season is in the books — and they must be doing cartwheels over the fact that the Sachems won four games.

Ordinarily that would be called a sub-par season. But when your coach is publicly humiliated and relieved of his duties in the manner Anthony Nalen was you have to give interim coach Mike Mabee and his players some serious props for making it a competitive season. Saugus may have been 4-7, but the Sachems played a couple of those teams that defeated them pretty tough.

Mabee perhaps didn’t think the time to discuss his future was right after the 38-6 loss to Peabody Thursday, but should he be interested in being a fulltime coach, the town owes him serious consideration.

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James Rabbitt has done a commendable job after only two seasons at KIPP. The Panthers turned their Thanksgiving-eve game against Lynn Tech into a competitive contest.

The Panthers have come a long way in a short time.

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Finally, Revere won its third straight Thanksgiving game over Winthrop Thursday — the first time the Patriots have won that many in a row since 1972-74.

After the ’74 win, the Patriots didn’t defeat Winthrop again until 1984, and then after that, the next win came in 1989. The cumulative point spread in those two wins was three.

Winthrop won every game from 1990 through 2009, though one (2001) came via forfeit.

So, this streak by Revere has to be ultra-satisfying.

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