There was a lot on the line for the South Boston and East Boston football teams at their 95th Thanksgiving Day game Thursday at White Stadium. The rivalry was as intense as ever because East Boston recently gave up the Boston North title to Madison Park, while South Boston was seeking its first Thanksgiving win since 2008.
East Boston emerged with a 22-14 victory.
“It’s been going on for practically 100 years, so it feels really good to win with past players watching,” East Boston senior running back Matthew Robinson said. “It’s my senior year and we’ve won the past 4 years I’ve been in school, so it means a lot.”
East Boston (4-5) junior quarterback Vincent Lepore scored on a quarterback sneak at the goal line to give the Jets a 6-0 lead.
East Boston continued to dominate using its running game. Two minutes into the second quarter, senior running back Matthew Robinson scored on a 2-yard run to make it 14-0.
South Boston (3-7) made it onto the scoreboard with 15 seconds left before halftime.
After three incomplete passes in row, quarterback Hakine Walcott completed a 22-yard pass to sophomore wide receiver Demario Taylor on fourth down.
Walcott then sent a 7-yard pass to junior running back Pannell Davis for a touchdown to cut East Boston's lead to 14-8.
“In the beginning we thought we had the game,” Robinson said. “When they got that pass it messed with us, but we just stayed focused and kept doing what we were doing.”
East Boston responded on its first drive in the third quarter. Robinson scored again on a 38-yard run up the middle to give East Boston a 22-8 lead.
Then South Boston's Sean Hunter decided to take some action. The Knights marched down the field, led by running backs Davis and Hunter. Hunter ran it in at the goal line for a touchdown to cut East Boston's lead to 22-14.
South Boston got the ball back with about a minute left, but couldn’t manage to get past the Jets’ defense.
“Eastie came out strong and moved the ball pretty easily,” South Boston coach Sean Guthrie said. “I’m proud of the overall effort, but mistakes hurt us in the end.”
East Boston coach John Parziale knew his team had its work cut out.
“They fought back and we had a lapse of coverage,” East Boston coach John Parziale said. “South Boston is tough and we throw records out the window on Thanksgiving.”
It was East Boston's fourth Thanksgiving win in a row.
“For a lot of years South Boston was on top, but now we are," Parziale said. “We want to keep it like that.”
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.
If you liked week three of the city soccer season it will only get better as we look ahead to this week, and maybe with sunny skies.
No. 1. Latin Academy at East Boston, 3:30 p.m., Thursday.
Despite having a young team, East Boston is playing with confidence. Even coach Lorenzo Di Benedetto thought they’d have trouble Saturday beating suburban Malden, a team full of Greater Boston League-tested seniors. Although the Jets are young they clearly have great skill, as they came out victorious, 1-0.
They aren’t undefeated, but Latin Academy also gets stronger by the week. The Dragons tied O’Bryant Tuesday but defeated South Boston, 5-1, Thursday and even Dedham, 5-1, Saturday.
The competition will be fierce with Latin Academy looking to end East Boston’s flawless record.
No. 2 O’Bryant at Madison Park, 3:30 p.m., Tuesday.
O’Bryant also continues to conquer, even outside of the city. They tied Latin Academy 2-2 Tuesday, shut out Snowden, 3-0, Thursday and blanked Revere, 3-0, Saturday. Coach Ian Doreian commented that his forwards played hard all week and that won't change Tuesday.
Madison Park has been the team to beat for the past three years. Since they’re undefeated this season, it looks like things haven’t changed much. With O’Bryant on a winning streak, however, it just might.
No. 3 C.A.S.H. at Randolph, 3:30 p.m., Wednesday.
C.A.S.H. has one loss this season, its first match against Latin Academy. Since then they’ve improved with two wins this week, 4-1 on Tuesday against South Boston and 2-1 on Thursday against Charlestown.
Randolph has three losses, but suburban teams are known to be competitive. We'll see if C.A.S.H. can pull off another win outside of the city, like O’Bryant and East Boston did this week.
No. 1 New Mission vs. Latin Academy at Reservation Field at 3:30 p.m., Monday.
New Mission continues to thrive in the city. Although both contenders played hard they were no match for New Mission. New Mission beat Burke Wednesday 3-0 and Brighton Thursday, 2-0.
Latin Academy also has been doing well in the city, but things changed when they played in the suburbs. The Dragons lost to North Quincy, 8-0, on Wednesday, but shut out Snowden, 7-0, the day before.
Latin Academy definitely learned from their disappointing experience with North Quincy. It’s likely they’ll have a few new tricks for New Mission on Monday.
No. 2 C.A.S.H at East Boston at 3:30 p.m., Monday.
East Boston shut out Charlestown, 5-0, on Tuesday and Dorchester 3-0 on Friday, but suffered a tough loss to Everett Wednesday.
C.A.S.H. has been having a rocky season, but shut out Madison Park on Wednesday, 6-0. Coach Amy Offret is confident the team will channel their new-found confidence in Monday’s match against the Jets. C.A.S.H. could be a new team to watch with a win over the Jets.
No. 3 Brighton at Madison Park, 3:30 p.m., Friday.
Brighton was on a winning streak in the past week, but undefeated New Mission put an end to it this week, 2-0. It was a tough loss for Brighton, as they were looking to retrieve their former title as the strongest girls team in the city league.
Madison Park had a disappointing week as well. They lost to C.A.S.H, 6-0, on Wednesday, but coach Adelina Da Silva still thinks her team has what it takes to beat Brighton. We’ll see if the recent losses affect their play this week.
It was another strong week in BPS soccer, with impressive plays for the both boys and girls teams.
Latin Academy played South Boston on a soggy Saturday and freshman forward Vilder Joachim played a big role in its 5-1 win. In the second half, Joachim picked up the ball on the right corner and powerfully struck it into the left corner, low to the ground.
“I’ve been begging them to keep the ball low,” coach Dennis Allen said. “This was one of those [plays] where the execution was what I had been asking them to do.”
O’Bryant had a great week. They dominated Revere, 3-0, Saturday, beat Snowden, 3-0, Thursday and tied Latin Academy Tuesday. Sophomore David Lopera had two goals this week, but one, coach Ian Doreian says, was exceptional.
“He shot from 18 yards down,” he said, “and just absolutely buried it.”
Brighton played only one match this week, Tuesday against Burke, but coach Adrian Kawuba called it the most exciting of the season.
By the end of the first half, Brighton was down, 3-1. Their confidence didn’t waiver in the second half however, as Rossel Cacho scored from a powerful cross from senior forward Gustavo Silva. Cacho added a second goal later.
“It was the best goal I’ve seen in awhile,” Kawuba said. “He headed the ball in. I don’t know how he managed to get the ball into the corner. It was unbelievable.”
Sophomore Vinicus Cordeiro also had a fantastic goal from 35 yards out off a free kick that ended up being the game-winner for Brighton, 4-3.
Last Friday East Boston went to the suburbs in a match against Malden. They won 1-0 in a game that coach Lorenzo Di Benedetto called “clean and well matched,” But one play stuck out.
Freshman forward Sebastian Toro scored the only goal after picking up the ball 30 yards out. He passed all of the defenders and rushed the goalie, who saved the ball at his first attempt. He went in for the rebound and tucked in a beautiful goal.
Madison Park shut out Burke, 6-0, Friday thanks to many fantastic plays. Senior forward Heidymara Gomes executed a beautiful goal from the middle of the field after an assist from senior forward Dulcelina Tavares.
“They’ve played together for a while, since they were freshmen,” coach Adelina Da Silva said, “So they know each other well and make beautiful plays.”
Even a defender had a goal against Burke. Senior Ashley Chavez recovered the ball from Gomes and scored all the way from Madison’s side of the field.
Even though Dorchester lost to O’Bryant, 7-2, coach Allison Cohn is proud of the way her team played. The first goal was by senior forward Mirlande Philogene, after recovering the ball with her head. She then dribbled up past the defenders and scored in an impressive shot to the right corner.
This week East Boston’s power was in its underclassmen. Forward Mariah Roberts showed great skill in Tuesday’s 5-0 shut out against Charlestown – and she’s only a freshman. She had an impressive goal in the second half after she passed two defenders, as well as a gorgeous assist to sophomore midfielder Ruth Rivas.
Although Charlestown lost East Boston, sophomore forward Sara Centeio was the most dedicated player on the field. Despite being down by 5 with no subs at the end of the second half, she powered down the field and passed every defender. She couldn’t execute however, as East Boston’s sophomore keeper Brittany Blancato blocked her shot.
Pavel Dzemianok / For the Boston Globe
The rain poured and the wind howled Friday afternoon during the Boston English and South Boston football game, but both teams played hard.
English shut out Southie, 14-0, with all the scoring coming in the first half.
“We lacked on defense and that really hurt us,” South Boston coach Sean Guthrie said.
“The guys were a little overconfident and they were shooting down the field instead of buckling down.”
English started fast with freshman running back Stanley Vargas aiming to score on the opening drive. He rushed for 46 yards on the opening drive and capped it off with a 23 yard touchdown run.
Junior quarterback Dhe’Jour Relerford had a successful 2-point conversion in a run from 2 yards out.
South Boston fumbled the ball on its first possession and English recovered.
At the beginning of the second quarter, South Boston attempted to punt from their 27-yard-line but was blocked and English's Francis Okoyo recovered it on the 11. The senior running back went on to score a touchdown on a 6-yard run, although his 2-point conversion attempt was unsuccessful.
Both shared multiple three and outs as the defenses held strong for both teams in the second half.
Although South Boston came out unsuccessful, South Boston junior linebacker Sean Hunter had a strong performance.
Even with the shutout, English coach Chris Boswell believes his team still has room to improve.
“We got the shutout and we’re getting better,” he said. “But we still have a lot to do.”
Photo courtesy of America Scores Boston
The South End was abuzz with soccer enthusiasts of all ages to celebrate at the 2012 SCORES Celebration Thursday night with special guest, U.S. women’s national soccer team star Heather O’Reilly. Students, athletes and Boston public school supporters gathered at the high-energy gala at Cyclorama for a night of soccer activities, poetry performances and food from local restaurants.
The faces of Boston public school athletes lit up as they received pointers from O'Reilly in the kid's clinic that kicked off the event. The olympic gold champion enthusiastically assisted each player in shooting and passing drills and coached them in a scrimmage.
“I've been involved for close to seven years," O'Reilly said. "I fell in love with the program and its uniqueness. I was an education major in college so it sort of blended together everything I find important. When I heard America SCORES was [in Boston] I jumped at the opportunity to help.”
O'Reilly also spoke about competing in the London olympics, signed autographs and posed for photos.
O’Reilly, New England Revolution team President Brian Bilello and New England Revolution broadcaster Brad Feldman spoke about their love of America SCORES and the impact it’s making on students.
“It’s a great organization,” Bilello said. “The fact that they’re combining soccer and education is great. It’s made a lot of sense for a long time for the Revs to be involved.”
After the soccer events, Lael Watson, a fifth-grader at Orchard Gardens K-8 School in Roxbury, made a poetry performance.
“My poem ‘I Am’ is about where I’m from and who I am,” Watson said. “I’m nervous, but I have a lot of confidence. I’m really happy I was chosen.”
Coach Mark Salzillo was thrilled and grateful that SCORES invited the Orchard Garden School.
“It’s an amazing opportunity to meet professional soccer players and create the idea of soccer at a bigger level for them, because they’re all beginners,” Salzillo said.
The celebration was provided by America SCORES Boston, a non-profit organization dedicated to help urban youth attain life skills, literacy, and health through soccer.
“America SCORES is a very special organization because it gives kids the platform to believe in themselves,” O’Reilly said. “Keep it up America SCORES because you’re doing fantastic things.”
Week two was an exciting one in city soccer with surprising wins and losses.
For the boys:
The first surprise came from the Brighton vs. Madison Park boys' match last Monday. Even though Madison Park is the top contender in the league, their 4-1 win over Brighton came as a shock.
Brighton has been going hard this season, beating all other teams by a landslide. On the 14th they beat Snowden, 10-0, and last Thursday they dominated English, 7-3. Their only other loss was their first game against Latin Academy, which they had to forfeit due to paperwork issues. Kawuba and his boys worked hard from the start of the season to challenge Madison, but clearly they’re going to have to work harder.
Snowden was an even greater surprise last Friday in their win over Charlestown. Before Friday, the team had lost every match this fall, losing by 10 to Brighton and 9 to Dorchester.
It’s as if a different team took the field Friday, as they dominated against the usually powerful Charlestown. Not only were four goals scored, but they also managed to shut out Charlestown, finishing the game on the winning end, 4-0.
Another unexpected win came about this past week from O’Bryant.
It’s common knowledge that suburban teams usually come out on top against city league teams, but O’Bryant didn’t let this mess with their game. O'Bryant came out victorious against D1 Revere in a thrilling match Saturday, winning, 3-0.
“Our win relied on the short passes on the ground,” O’Bryant coach Ian Doreian said. “We also had five players in the midfield so we really controlled the middle of the field. Revere’s a really strong team so it was a big deal and a big win.”
And the girls:
East Boston played outside the city Tuesday, facing North Quincy, and it did not end pretty.
“The good news is that no one got struck by lighting during the game,” East Boston coach Richard La Cara said of the loss, “but we got smoked.”
Despite East Boston’s best efforts, it just wasn’t enough, as the Jets lost, 7-0.
La Cara knew that it wouldn’t be an easy game, however, and looks at the loss as a learning experience.
“They’re a really good team for the suburbs,” he said. “I like to bring in some competition to know there’s something to strive for. The girls tried and never gave up.”
Another surprise this week was O’Bryant’s 10-0 win over CASH.
Before last Tuesday, the team had not scored one goal this season, playing to a scooreless tie agaisnt Latin Academy. While CASH wasn’t much competition, O’Bryant’s goals came rapidly as if they had been playing for months.
Dorchester and Boston English haven’t had a great start to the season. Both teams had lost every match thus far, but that changed for Dorchester Friday.
The two went head-to-head in the thrilling match, but Dorchester came out on top, 3-2. The teams performed equally, with Dorchester senior Mirlande Philogene providing the game-winning goal in the middle of the second half.
“We have definitely come a long way since our first game,” Dorchester coach Allison Cohn said. “We’ve been working a lot better as a team so we had our act together. We were pretty fairly matched but we had more subs so that worked in our favor.”
For the boys:
East Boston at Malden at 3:45 p.m, Friday.
East Boston just gets stronger by the week. The undefeated Jets have dominated every match this season, most recently shutting out South Boston, 8-0. Freshman keeper Edwin Avelar has only surrendered one goal thus far, to Boston International.
East Boston’s rein may be over on Friday, however, as they are playing outside of the city. Malden also has a strong team with only one loss against Somerville.
West Roxbury vs. Boston English at Ceylon at 3:30 p.m, Monday.
Neither West Roxbury nor Boston English are off to a strong start this season, as both are still in search of their first victory. West Roxbury struggled against CASH in the one game they’ve played so far, losing 10-1.
English has played three matches and at least had three goals against mighty Brighton last week. It looks like English has this one set, but West Roxbury will definitely put up a fight.
Snowden vs. O’Bryant at Madison Park at 3:30 p.m., Thursday.
Snowden has had a weak presence in the league so far, but you wouldn’t know it by the way they played last Friday. The team dominated the usually strong Charlestown, winning the match, 4-0. This was the team’s first win of the season, and it’s likely they’ll keep that momentum going this week.
O’Bryant has also had a successful week, even after playing outside the city. They shut out CASH, 6-0, as well as Revere, 3-0, on Saturday.
Coming out of two equally nice wins, the match on Thursday is sure to be a thriller.
For the girls:
New Mission vs. Brighton at Portsmouth field at 3:30 p.m., Monday.
This will be the best girls game of the week by far. New Mission is this season’s team to watch and Brighton is trying to recover that title.
New Mission is still undefeated while Brighton lost their first game against Latin Academy 6-0. Brighton won both games against South Boston and Snowden and there is no way they’re going down again without a fight.
O’Bryant vs. Dorchester at Franklin Field #2 at 3:30 p.m., Monday.
Both O’Bryant and Dorchester have lost just once thus far, and both teams will do what they can to ensure they come out victorious.
O’Bryant had a stellar week, shutting out CASH, 10-0, and Burke, 4-0. It’s likely that they’ll be using this game against Dorchester to get them ready for Mt. Alverania on Tuesday.
Although the game is slightly in O’Bryant’s favor, Dorchester shouldn’t be counted out. They’re coming from Friday’s thrilling 3-2 win over Boston English and will be sure to provide a high-energy match.
East Boston at Charlestown at 3:30 p.m., Tuesday.
Charlestown is not happy with its tie against South Boston last Wednesday. The team has yet to win a match, but if their first win is against East Boston they are definitely a team to watch.
East Boston lost 7-0 to North Quincy Tuesday but came back victorious against West Roxbury on Friday, winning 7-2. If they come into the game against Charlestown with the spirits of Friday, it’s likely they’ll be the winners.
East Boston is unstoppable this season and has no plans of slowing down. The team continues their undefeated season after shutting down South Boston Thursday afternoon, 8-0.
“I’m not concerned about our record,” East Boston coach Lorenzo Di Benedetto said before the win. “I’m concerned about how we’re going to play.”
There was no need for Di Benedetto to be concerned, as the scoring started within the first minute of the game. Senior forward Marvin Melgar rushed the field as soon as the whistle blew, scoring within the first minute.
One goal wasn’t enough for Melgar, who scored again from the center of the field at the end of the first half. Ten minutes later, he passed three defenders and scored his third goal.
The score was 5-0 at the end of the first half, but the second played out differently. South Boston stepped up their defense, with both teams fighting over the ball for the majority of the second half.
Melgar managed to take over 25 minutes into the game however, and scored his third goal. During the last five minutes, the forward sped past defenders on the right side of the field. He shot and hit the left goal post, but senior forward Sanuel Zavala received possession of the ball immediately and scored.
East Boston freshman goalkeeper Edwin Avelar could not be defeated, providing the shut out.
“We played a really good game,” Melgar said. “We have to work more as a team though, less individually. [The play offs] is our goal. Hopefully we’ll be champions, but as coach says, lets worry about one game at a time.”
Despite the high score, South Boston junior keeper Alex Araujo played well with 14 saves.
“This is my first year as a goalie, I’ve played three games now,” he said. “We did okay, we could do better. We need more defense to push the ball up for our strikers to score.”
While South Boston coach Nate Houghton agrees that the team has room for improvement, he is proud of the way they played.
“This is the best game we’ve played all season,” he said. “We were more organized and [the players] are getting more experience.”
Even after their win, Di Benedetto also believes his team needs improvement.
“We need to better team chemistry and moving without the ball,” he said. “I’m also trying to incorporate more confidence and physicality in freshmen.”
Di Benedetto is working hard to get his team ready for teams like Madison Park and Brighton.
“We’re a young team and we’ve done well so far,” he said. “But the middle of the season will be the eye of the storm.”
The stars made their debut as the Boston public school soccer season got underway.
For the boys
Rossel Cacho, Brighton: The captain and senior forward had two gorgeous assists as well as two goals in Brighton’s 10-0 shut out of Snowden. His intense speed and fancy footwork did not go unnoticed.
Elmar Ventura, East Boston: The senior midfielder is on fire so far with one goal and one assist in the team’s first win against Dorchester, 2-0. He scored again in the Jets’ second win against Boston International, 2-1.
Kevin O’Neill, Latin Academy: While Latin Academy lost 6-0 against Dedham, coach Dennis Allen believes the score does not reflect his players effort. O’Neill, a forward who played multiple positions in the game, is one of them. Even in defeat the sophomore excelled and put a stop to many opposing players.
Stanley Gourge, Snowden: Even though Snowden was dominated by Brighton 10-0 last week, the Quincy Upper keeper helped hold the team together. A newcomer to the sport, he had 11 saves in the game.
And the girls
Keena Nicholas, O’Bryant: The forward is only a freshman but was the star of the show in O’Bryant’s 6-0 shut out of Charlestown. She scored one goal in each half in her varsity debut.
Emma Lama, Brighton: The senior midfielder scored the two goals in the Bengals' first win of the season against West Roxbury, 2-1.
Lyne Justal, CASH:Coach Amy Offret nominated Justal for “pulling the team together” this past week. Due to this, the forward was chosen as team captain.
Ruth Rivas, East Boston:The sophomore forward had two goals in the Jets’ first win, a 4-0 blanking of Madison Park.
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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 email@example.com. 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 firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on his Twitter @butler_globe.