Brighton and O'Bryant to play unofficial city championship after Madison Park bows out of Thanksgiving game
The following is first in a series of Thanksgiving football previews.
In an unexpected last-minute plot twist, the winners of the Boston City League North and Boston City League South will play an unofficial "city championship" game at 10 a.m. on Thanksgiving morning at O’Bryant.
Madison Park bowed out of its traditional Thanksgiving matchup with campus rival O’Bryant, and Brighton stepped in to fill the void.
Brighton finished 7-0 to win the North and O’Bryant finished 7-0 to win the South, but there is no official city championship in football in Boston.
Brighton coach Randolph Abraham said the O’Bryant team captains approached him with the proposal during the Boston Scholar-Athlete program’s football banquet Saturday night, and the administrations of both schools approved the game Tuesday.
“We know each other well, we work closely with O’Bryant in the summer because they are one of the only other city teams to run the spread,” Abraham said. “We spent the summer working with each other and had a scrimmage.
“It’s the funniest thing. We already collected equipment. We had an emergency team meeting today and all of the kids are excited. They unanimously voted that they wanted to play on Thanksgiving. Now I’m talking to parents to get these kids to stay in Boston [for the holiday]. So far so good.”
Brighton doesn’t have a traditional Thanksgiving rival, and Abraham said the last time it played on Thanksgiving was in 1990 against Charlestown. The Bengals thought their season was over after they lost to Manchester Essex Regional, 42-28, in the Division 5 North sectionals at Harvard Stadium.
“It feels great," said Brighton quarterback Jalen Apperwhite, the BSA Player of the Year. "It feels like we have a second chance. I felt like the season was over.
"There’s been talk between both teams -- who is the real city champ? Now we get to see who is the actual city champ.”
Apperwhite said he has friends and family who play and coach for O’Bryant. So on previous Thanksgivings, he would watch them play against Madison Park or he would attend the Boston English-Boston Latin game since his father used to coach at Latin.
“One year I just stayed at home, helped mother cook Thanksgiving dinner, and just watched NFL games,” he said. “I was jealous. Now it’s like, ‘Hey, we finally get to have our big moment, a Thanksgiving game.
“I think it will be very exciting, because Thanksgiving morning everybody’s family always comes out, just a whole bunch of people. I know I’m going to have a lot of family out there. It will be nice to have everyone see me at my best. It will be a very uplifting feeling. I can’t put it into words right now.”
Abraham, who played at Brighton in the 1990s and took over as coach two years ago, said the previous coach, James Philip, never scheduled a Thanksgiving game because he thought the day should be spent with family and because he wanted his team to rest for the playoffs.
“[He thought] Thanksgiving is sacred, he was manly about it and wanted to rest. He likes to stay home and cook,” Abraham said. “I’ve been approached several times these last two years to pick up a Thanksgiving game. But with the new playoff system, it needs to be someone worth doing it, and O’Bryant is definitely that team and this is something hopefully we can continue to do.”
This will be the second straight year there is an unofficial "city championship." Last year, South winner Dorchester and North winner Madison Park happened to meet in the final regular-season game.
The winner is going to be the city champion," Abraham said. "Whoever wins the game is the city champ.”
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