Following is the first in a series of Thanksgiving football previews.
To football coaches Sean Guthrie of South Boston and John Parziale of East Boston, Thanksgiving is the most important day of the season. Forget records and championships – it’s all about victory on the 22nd.
“It’s a big day and everyone knows no matter where you are,” said Guthrie. “I was in Connecticut and someone came up to me and asked, ‘Did you beat Eastie?”
“Southie has a lot of followers and they don’t want to know your record. They want to know if you beat Eastie.”
The biggest city rivals are going head-to-head again on Thursday at 10 a.m. at White Stadium in a tradition that dates back to 1901.
“Every Thanksgiving we’re the first game at 9:30,” said Parziale. “It’s a great tradition for the city and very important to our community and those who have played for East Boston.”
“It’s near and dear to their hearts to get a win against South Boston.”
Even though the Knights (3-7) haven’t defeated the Jets (4-5) since 2008, both know that this season it’s anybody’s game.
South Boston is known for its strong defense and speed with star wide receiver junior Pannel Davis, junior quarterback Sean Hunter and senior lineman Kingsley Okoye.
Guthrie noted it will be a tough game but that the Knights are on a three-game winning streak.
In order to prepare for the Jets, Guthrie thinks it’s all about sticking to their original plan.
“It’s something we’ve been planning for forever,” he said, “and the same thing we always do; get the guys prepared for East Boston’s offensive attack and prepare them for defensive looks.”
Unlike the Knights, the Jets’ season ended on a disappointing note.
East Boston lost to Madison Park earlier this month and gave up the Boston North title, making a Thanksgiving victory more desirable than ever.
The Jets plan to redeem themselves with their strong attack lead by star junior running back Juan Bonilla and senior center Lyndry Green.
“We didn’t have a game last week, we’ve just been practicing,” Parziale said. “We’re trying to get ourselves a little better after that tough loss against Madison Park.”
“We only had an okay year so we’re going to work extra hard to get the victory.”
Both Guthrie and Parziale stressed the importance of the Thanksgiving game win not only for the team, but the community.
“We’re going to bring alumni back to inspire them and let them know about the tradition,” Guthrie said. “It has an emotional impact because they know those guys are looking at them.”
Parziale agreed that he wants the win for alumni and East Boston supporters.
“Everyone knows the tradition,” said Parziale. “Most kids have brothers, uncles and fathers that played years ago.
“A lot of people come out for the game to cheer us on and South Boston is very similar in that way.”
With the Jets entering the game for redemption and the Knights looking to get their first win since 2008, this is bound to be the biggest Thanksgiving game in the city league.
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- Justin A. Rice -- A metro Detroit native, Rice is a Michigan State University (Go Spartans!) and Northeastern University graduate. Rice lives in the South End with his dog and wife, who unfortunately attended the University of Michigan ... his wife, that is. He curates the BPS Sports Blog and is always looking to write about city athletes with great stories. Have an idea? He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @GlobeJustinRice or @BPSspts.
- Ryan Butler -- A Rhode Island native and avid Boston sports fan, Butler played basketball, baseball and football throughout his time in Barrington Public Schools. Now currently in his middler year at Northeastern University, he joins Boston.com as a correspondent for the site's BPS coverage. Have a story idea? Contact him at email@example.com. Follow him on his Twitter @butler_globe.