The Edwards Middle School will look to defend its title Thursday afternoon in the Boston middle school football championship at White Stadium.
This year the Play Ball! Foundation, which funds and helps organize the middle school football league, had two flights of playoffs that will result in a City and Town champion.
Before the Edwards battles the Rogers at 5 p.m., the Mildred Avenue School and the Fredrick School will play for the Town title at 3:30 p.m.
"Halfway through the season, toward the end of the season it became clear we had two different levels of experience," Play Ball! board member, Pat Arcand said, explaining why the playoffs were split into two flights this year.
Edwards coach John Rice said the afternoon should be a showcase for the city’s high school football coaches.
“It’s great because [the Rogers] are in the other division, we’re both division champs, we’re both 6-0, so the winner is going to have an undefeated season and the loser will have their one loss being in the championship game,” Rice said.
“So it’s high stakes poker here. Someone will go home 6-1 and someone will go 7-0 and I certainly don’t want it to be me.”
Rice said the Rogers is the biggest and most physical team in the league.
“We just have to tackle well, that’s just the key to it, we have to tackle well,” he said.
Rogers coach Steve Cahill said he likes his chances against the Edwards.
“They are a good, well coached team, but honestly I think we are going to do very well,” he said. “We surprised ourselves this year, we worked hard and we are doing great.”
The semifinals were played on Friday under the lights at Harvard Stadium for the first time. This is also the first year the championships will be at White Stadium. Last year the championship game was at Moakley Field.
“It was great experience for not only the kids but the coaches,” Cahill said of playing at Harvard. “It was an unbelievable time to play in a stadium with that much history and that large. And not only that but just to walk around and to show the kids what a great education can get you, it was great to point it out and give them something to aim for.
“White Stadium is great but it’s no comparison to Harvard. But it’s still a pretty beautiful stadium to play in for the championship. We’re looking forward to it. I think we will do well.
Winning for Ware
During Friday afternoon’s 12-0 victory against Boston English, several Dorchester players wore No. 40 painted on their face in honor of JV wide receiver and defensive back Landon Ware.
The freshman was hit by a car while walking home on Tuesday after practice last week. The Dorchester coaches said he was in the Intensive Care Unit at Boston Medical Center last week but is doing much better this week.
“The kids wanted to dedicate the game to him so that’s what they did,” Dorchester coach Rich Moran said after Friday’s game.
On Monday afternoon, assistant coach John Evans said Ware, who suffered head trauma, recently opened his eyes for the first time.
“He opened his eyes, took the tube out and moments later he knew his name and jersey number so that was pretty good,” Evans said. “Just yesterday one of his teachers sent me a text with him getting up and walking.
“He’s a good kid.”
Evans said Ware still has a long road to recovery.
“He still not out of the woods yet but what is positive is the fact that he does know who he is,” Evans said.
The first-ever Thanksgiving football game between New Mission and Burke was moved to Saunders Field in South Boston at the request of New Mission coach Michael Pittman-Forman.
The 10 a.m. game was originally scheduled to be played at Boston English but was moved to Reservation Field when English’s field was determined to be unplayable for high school games earlier this season because of the condition of the artificial turf.
Boston schools Athletic Director Ken Still said Pittman-Foreman asked that the game be moved to South Boston because Reservation Field doesn’t have enough seating.
“At least it has stands for a Thanksgiving game, parents, friends, family, other students will be at that game,” Still said. “Reservation Road really has no real seating of any kind. So we’re just trying to help them out to see if we can find them a place to play.”
Shedding light poles
After a 70-foot stadium lighting pole at White Stadium was knocked over by Hurricane Sandy earlier this month, the district had all the other poles tested to see if they are structurally sound.
While Boston schools’ athletic director Ken Still said the report concluded that play can resume under those poles for the remainder of this season, four of those poles were removed on Friday.
The poles, which were first installed in the 1940s, will eventually all of be replaced, Still said.
“The four of them were taken out because they were weak at the bottom,” Still said. “They were in bad shape anyway but sometime down the road they are going to take all of them out. These ones are not as bad but they are going to be bad so they are working ahead.”
Still said he had no timeline for when all of the poles would be replaced.
“It all has to do with the capital budget,” he said. “I’m not sure.”
Still said the base of the pole that fell was rusted through the bottom and it fell into the parking lot and didn’t hurt anyone. He said a crew came and chopped it up and hauled it away.
After the incident, the city soccer championships were moved from White Stadium to other fields until all the other poles could be x-rayed for corrosion.
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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.