It’s Thanksgiving morning and that means it’s time for high school football.
Following last year’s triumphant return, Thanksgiving rivalries continue as one of the Bay State’s storied sporting traditions. The Globe has more than a dozen reporters blanketing Eastern Mass to provide up-to-the-minute updates while you wait for the turkey to roast, the pies to bake, and the Patriots to kick off.
Nik Sperounis is the honorary captain for Chelmsford — 10:10 a.m.
Read Cam Kerry’s story about Nik Sperounis, who returned to the sideline last Thanksgiving after being diagnosed with angiosarcoma, and is back this year as an honorary captain for the Lions.
There’s nothing quite like player introductions and the National Anthem on Thanksgiving — 10:05 a.m.
It’s game time! — 10:00 a.m.
Needham vs. Wellesley
Braintree vs. Milton
St. John’s Prep vs. Xaverian
Chelmsford vs. Billerica
Quincy vs. North Quincy
Foxborough vs. Mansfield
Duxbury vs. Marshfield
Franklin vs. King Philip
The stands are filling up across the state — 9:45 a.m.
Nauset vs. Dennis-Yarmouth
Cohasset vs. Hull at Hingham
Needham vs. Wellesley
Boston Latin vs. English
Westwood vs. Holliston
Today’s entire schedule — 9:35 a.m.
GAMES ARE LISTED ALPHABETICALLY BY HOME TEAM
Whitman-Hanson at Abington, 10 a.m.
West Springfield at Agawam, 10 a.m.
Westborough at Algonquin, 10 a.m.
Cardinal Spellman at Archbishop Williams, 10 a.m.
Leicester at Auburn, 10:15 a.m.
Littleton at Ayer Shirley, 10 a.m.
Falmouth at Barnstable, 10 a.m.
Oxford at Bay Path, 10 a.m.
Burlington at Bedford, 10 a.m.
Bishop Stang at Bishop Feehan, 10 a.m.
Sutton at Blackstone-Millville/Hopedale, 10 a.m.
English High at Boston Latin, 10 a.m.
Wareham at Bourne, 10 a.m.
Stoughton at Canton, 10 a.m.
Upper Cape at Cape Cod Tech, 10 a.m.
BC High at Catholic Memorial, 10 a.m.
Billerica at Chelmsford, 10 a.m.
Chicopee at Chicopee Comprehensive, 10:15 a.m.
Nashoba at Clinton, 10 a.m.
Hull at Cohasset, 10 a.m.
Norwood at Dedham, 10 a.m.
Nauset at Dennis-Yarmouth, 10 a.m.
Methuen at Dracut, 10 a.m.
South Boston at East Boston, 9:30 a.m.
Rockland at East Bridgewater, 10 a.m.
Northeast at Essex Tech, 10 a.m.
Dartmouth at Fairhaven, 10 a.m.
Mansfield at Foxborough, 10 a.m.
Quabbin at Gardner, 10 a.m.
Manchester Essex at Georgetown, 10 a.m.
Danvers at Gloucester, 10 a.m.
Diman at Greater New Bedford, 10 a.m.
Norwell at Hanover, 10 a.m.
Lowell at Haverhill, 10 a.m.
Westwood at Holliston, 10 a.m.
Ashland at Hopkinton, 10 a.m.
Hamilton-Wenham at Ipswich, 10 a.m.
Somerset Berkley at Joseph Case, 10 a.m.
Minuteman at Keefe Tech, 10 a.m.
Franklin at King Philip, 10 a.m.
Central Catholic at Lawrence, 10 a.m.
Concord-Carlisle at Lexington, 10 a.m.
East Longmeadow at Longmeadow, 11 a.m.
Winnacunnet (N.H.) at Lowell, 10 a.m.
Palmer at Ludlow, 10 a.m.
Lynn Classical at Lynn English, 10 a.m.
Athol at Mahar, 10 a.m.
Swampscott at Marblehead, 10 a.m.
Hudson at Marlborough, 10 a.m.
Duxbury at Marshfield, 10 a.m.
Bishop Fenwick at Masconomet, 10 a.m.
Dover-Sherborn at Medfield, 10 a.m.
Wakefield at Melrose, 10:15 a.m.
Carver at Middleborough, 10 a.m.
Grafton at Millbury, 10 a.m.
Medway at Millis, 10 a.m.
Braintree at Milton, 10 a.m.
St. John Paul II at Monomoy, 10 a.m.
Murdock at Narragansett, 10 a.m.
Framingham at Natick, 10 a.m.
Wellesley at Needham, 10 a.m.
Durfee at New Bedford, 10:15 a.m.
Amesbury at Newburyport, 10 a.m.
Brookline at Newton North, 10 a.m.
Lincoln-Sudbury at Newton South, 10 a.m.
Blackstone Valley at Nipmuc, 10 a.m.
Attleboro at North Attleborough, 10 a.m.
Lynnfield at North Reading, 10 a.m.
Easthampton at Northampton, 10:30 a.m.
Bellingham at Norton, 10 a.m.
Lunenburg at Oakmont, 10 a.m.
Apponequet at Old Rochester, 10 a.m.
Belchertown at Pathfinder, 10 a.m.
Silver Lake at Pembroke, 10 a.m.
North Quincy at Quincy, 10 a.m.
Stoneham at Reading, 10:15 a.m.
Xaverian at St. John’s Prep, 10:15 a.m.
Beverly at Salem, 10 a.m.
Mashpee at Sandwich, 10 a.m.
Peabody at Saugus, 10 a.m.
Hingham at Scituate, 10 a.m.
Dighton-Rehoboth at Seekonk, 10 a.m.
Oliver Ames at Sharon, 10 a.m.
Arlington Catholic at Shawsheen, 10:15 a.m.
Tantasqua at Shepherd Hill, 10 a.m.
Wachusett at Shrewsbury, 10 a.m.
Franklin County Tech at Smith Vocational, 10 a.m.
Holyoke at South Hadley, 10 a.m.
Bartlett at Southbridge, 10:15 a.m.
West Bridgewater at Southeastern, 10 a.m.
Milford at Taunton, 10 a.m.
Wilmington at Tewksbury, 10 a.m.
Pentucket at Triton, 10 a.m.
Groton-Dunstable at Tyngsborough, 10 a.m.
Northbridge at Uxbridge, 10 a.m.
Weymouth at Walpole, 10 a.m.
Arlington at Waltham, 10 a.m.
Quaboag at Ware, 10 a.m.
Maynard/AMSA at West Boylston, 10 a.m.
Acton-Boxborough at Westford, 10 a.m.
Wayland at Weston, 10 a.m.
Woburn at Winchester, 10:30 a.m.
Revere at Winthrop, 10 a.m.
Relive five games at Fenway Park over the last two days — 9:30 a.m.
The appetizer to Thanksgiving football was a quintet of games played at Fenway Park.
Brockton 31, Bridgewater-Raynham 20: A few blocks away from Nickerson Field, where he capped his high school career at Brockton High with a Super Bowl win in 1972, Peter Colombo ended his storied coaching career by steering his Boxers to victory over Bridgewater-Raynham at Fenway Park.
The 19-year Brockton coach succeeded his father, legendary coach Armond Colombo, in 2004, and coached the Boxers to five Super Bowl appearances and two state titles in 2004 and 2005, finishing with a record of 142-80-1.
“It’s a little surreal,” said Colombo. “My dad talked about the sadness of giving this up, so I know what he meant. We’ve been looking forward to this since the summer, knowing we’d be here at Fenway. We have a special group and I’m proud of the way they played. It’s a great way to wrap it up.”
St. Mary’s 34, Catholic Central 21: There was no debate from Derick Coulanges and the rest of the starters on the St. Mary’s football team, they were going to play Wednesday, even with a Super Bowl date against Stoneham scheduled a week from Saturday.
Derickk Coulanges, backfield mate David Brown, and starting quarterback Tyler Guy all shined and set the tone early as St. Mary’s cruised to a win at Fenway over former Catholic Central rival Austin Prep in a final tune-up before the D6 Super Bowl at Gillette Stadium.
Malden 34, Medford 15: The opening kickoff flew through the brisk air and bounced off of Kevin Exilhomme’s hands.
The miraculous return from the Malden sophomore set the tone for the game.
Exilhomme juked out three defenders after scooping up the ball and dashed down the right hash, outracing the Medford defense en route to a 95-yard touchdown.
Exilhomme’s kick return spurred Malden to victory over Medford at Fenway Park in the 135th meeting between the Greater Boston League rivals. The Golden Tornadoes (4-6) claimed their 88th victory in a matchup that has occurred since 1889.
Watertown 21, Belmont 7: William McHugh broke through the line of scrimmage and had nothing but green grass ahead. The large Watertown contingent cheered on the senior from the red Fenway Park seats as he darted toward the end zone. On the sideline, players and coaches followed.
His 55-yard touchdown run with 1:41 left sealed Watertown’s win over Belmont in the 100th meeting between the Thanksgiving Day rivals Wednesday night at Fenway Park.
“It meant everything,” said McHugh. “This was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and I’m just happy to come out with the win.”
Latin Academy 32, O’Bryant 6: After missing multiple games because of injury, Latin Academy’s Bailey Belony wanted to end his senior season the right way.
The senior did that and more for his Dragons, throwing two touchdown passes, rushing for another, and nabbing an interception in their win over the O’Bryant Tigers at Fenway Park on Tuesday night.
“It was one last ride for me,” Belony said. “I just knew I had to go out there, do everything I could, try my best, and give everything I had.”
To play or not to play? That is the question for Super Bowl-bound teams — 9:25 a.m.
For a full decade now, each year 16 coaches have been faced with one of their most difficult decisions: How to treat their Thanksgiving game when the state championship is looming.
In 2013, the MIAA shifted to a larger playoff format that moved the Super Bowls after Thanksgiving. It has resulted in a dilemma that each coach approaches in their own way: Play your starters and risk injury or punt on Thanksgiving to heal up for the state championship game.
What should Thanksgiving football look like in Massachusetts? — 9:15 a.m.
A proposal from football coaches to rearrange the high school football schedule to make Thanksgiving games more meaningful by putting playoff spots on the line is ruffling feathers.
The proposal would result in Thanksgiving being the final game of the regular season, followed by three rounds of playoffs in an 11-day window for 64 teams (eight per division). It would push back the start to both the winter and spring sports seasons, but it would not eliminate the overlap that prevents some football players from trying out and practicing for a winter sport such as basketball because the football season is still in progress.
“The motivation behind this is we’re not doing the right thing for high school football players with their experience and we’ve minimized the experience for the 275 schools,” said Milton football coach Steve Dembowski, who presented the proposal.
“Look, I don’t want to be the Grinch that stole the Thanksgiving turkey, OK?” said Bo Ruggiero, the boys’ basketball coach at Cohasset and a member of the Massachusetts Basketball Coaches Association Hall of Fame. “We’re not against Thanksgiving, we’re not against the football playoffs, we’re not against the Super Bowls. What we’re against is the overlap.”
Which Globe reporter to follow on Twitter for each game — 9:05 a.m.
Did Nate Weitzer pick your team to win today? — 9:00 a.m.
Xaverian at St. John’s Prep — While the Eagles face a monumental task in the Division 1 Super Bowl against Springfield Central, they aren’t going to overlook a rivalry game against Xaverian. In 2019, Prep beat X, 35-0, before winning the state title. But in 2018, they took a 14-12 loss to the Hawks at Fenway Park. Pick: XAVERIAN.
Billerica at Chelmsford — For the first time since 2005, these rivals meet with a league title on the line. Chelmsford topped Billerica, 16-3, last year and is seeking the program’s first Merrimack Valley Small crown since 2011. Pick: CHELMSFORD.
Wakefield at Melrose — These rivals meet for the 112th time and Melrose holds a 62-42-7 lead in the series overall, but Wakefield is up 32-26-3 on Thanksgiving after snapping an 11-game skid last November. Pick: WAKEFIELD.
Stoneham at Reading — While the Spartans (10-1, 4-1) are looking ahead to the Division 6 Super Bowl, there are major league title implications on Thanksgiving with Middlesex Freedom contenders Wakefield (11-0, 4-0) and Melrose (6-4, 3-1) also facing off. James Murphy looks to cap his storied career by giving Reading (9-1, 5-0) another Middlesex Liberty title. Pick: READING.
Mansfield at Foxborough — It will be a quick turnaround for Foxborough (6-5, 3-0) after falling to Grafton in the Division 4 state semifinals on Saturday. Mansfield (8-2, 3-0) is looking to clinch the Hockomock Davenport title in its first season since shifting divisions. Pick: MANSFIELD.
Hull at Cohasset — Last year both of these programs were Super Bowl bound and Cohasset rolled Hull, 42-0, en route to a Division 7 state title. The Pirates (11-0, 3-0) have lost 11 straight in this rivalry, but might be concentrating on breaking through for a Division 8 championship. Pick: COHASSET.
Franklin at King Philip — Coming off a bellweather season in which it won the Hockomock Kelley-Rex and beat King Philip (9-1, 3-1) for the first time in 11 years, Franklin (6-3, 3-1) looks to repeat the feat, while the Warriors focus on Thursday and then their fifth Super Bowl appearance in six seasons. Pick: KING PHILIP.
Duxbury at Marshfield — The Dragons (10-0, 4-0) have been on a mission to avenge a narrow loss to Scituate in the D4 Super Bowl last December. Marshfield (7-3, 4-0) crushed some of Duxbury’s backups in other years when the Dragons were preparing for Gillette, but Duxbury earned a 38-28 win last year. Pick: DUXBURY.
English/New Mission at Boston Latin — The longest continuous rivalry in America up until 2020 resumes for a second year at Harvard Stadium. English (2-7) snapped a six-game skid against Latin (4-5) with a 66-42 win in 2021. Pick: BOSTON LATIN.
Swampscott at Marblehead — Swampscott (3-7, 0-3) has struggled after winning consecutive Division 5 Super Bowls, but the Big Blue will be geared up to try and take down Marblehead (7-2, 3-1) in the 112th installment of this rivalry. Pick: MARBLEHEAD.
Amesbury at Newburyport — After falling, 33-20, to West Boylston in the D6 semifinals, Amesbury (8-2, 5-1) looks to clinch at least a share of the Cape Ann League title, with the chance to take it outright if Lynnfield (6-4, 4-2) wins at Super Bowl-bound North Reading (10-1, 5-1). Pick: AMESBURY.
What’s your team’s record against its rival? — 8:45 a.m.
Do you know the closest Eastern Mass. rivalry?
(It’s Dartmouth and Fairhaven — 43-42-4.)
How about the most lopsided one?
(Sorry, Framingham. Natick’s 79-33-5 all-time record against you takes the cake.)
Check out more cool statistics about Mass. Thanksgiving Day rivalries on this Globe interactive. You can even search and find out how your high school has fared in its game.
The 13 most interesting games today — 8:30 a.m.
Between coaches facing their alma mater, players battling familiar foes, and seniors looking to cement their storied careers with one more milestone, there is no shortage of story lines on the gridiron this Thanksgiving.
▪ Wellesley at Needham (135th meeting) — The nation’s oldest public school rivalry is always played with an edge. A skirmish broke out toward the end of the 2019 meeting and Wellesley earned a narrow 34-28 victory in overtime last Thanksgiving to take a 65-60-9 lead in the series.
▪ Billerica at Chelmsford (96th meeting) — These teams hardly need any extra incentive, but the MVC Small title is on the line in this classic rivalry for the first time since 2005. Chelmsford is 30 points shy of setting the school record for points in a season and Billerica quarterback J.T. Green has topped 1,000 yards passing and rushing. Chelmsford leads the overall series, 62-28-5, as they play for the 91st time on Thanksgiving.
▪ Attleboro at North Attleborough (101st meeting) — After coaching at Attleboro for 10 years, Michael Strachan switches sides to his alma mater. His Rocketeers are coming off a disappointing 31-24 loss to Wakefield in the Division 3 state semifinals, but hold a 62-30-8 advantage in the rivalry.
▪ Mansfield at Foxborough (91st meeting) — Mansfield (8-2, 3-0) has cruised to three league wins after shifting to the Hockomock Davenport division this season, but Foxborough (6-5, 3-0) is looking to wrestle the league title away from the visiting Hornets.
▪ Wakefield at Melrose (112th meeting) — Wakefield coach John Rafferty (’70) has his alma mater marching to the Super Bowl after the first 11-0 start in program history. Rafferty coached at Melrose from 1992 to 2000, and Wakefield AD Brendan Kent was one of five brothers to play football at Melrose. Kent’s father, Jim, is a 22-year assistant at Melrose. Wakefield holds a 32-26-3 advantage in Thanksgiving meetings, but Melrose (62-42-7) leads the all-time series.
▪ Woburn at Winchester (121st meeting) — Last year, 1-8 Winchester gave 7-2 Woburn a thrilling finish in front of the largest crowd to attend a high school game at Fenway. In 2018, these rivals played to double overtime, and the all-time series is very close with Winchester holding a 55-53-12 advantage.
▪ English/New Mission at Boston Latin (135th meeting) — The oldest continuous rivalry prior to the forced hiatus in 2020 returned with English scoring a record 66 points in a win over Latin. Prior to that performance, Latin had won 52 of the previous 57 meetings to open an 83-38-13 lead.
▪ Peabody at Saugus (75th meeting) — Tanners senior quarterback Shea Lynch can break his own single-season records for passing yards and touchdowns and he only needs one more touchdown pass to break the career record in the Northeastern Conference. Junior Eli Batista is also on pace to break his own single-season records for receiving yards and touchdowns as Peabody looks to expand a 47-27 lead in this series.
▪ Amesbury at Newburyport (99th meeting) — Amesbury (8-2, 5-1) can clinch at least a share of the Cape Ann League title by topping Newburyport (6-4, 4-2), which would also mark their 41st win in the rivalry. North Reading (10-1, 5-1) is hosting Lynnfield (6-4, 4-2) in the 53rd installment of that rivalry and the Hornets could share the title with Amesbury if both teams win.
▪ Framingham at Natick (117th meeting) — First-year Framingham coach David Wright has coached Natick’s Pop Warner A-Team and has five sons, including three stepsons, who have played for the Redhawks. Natick leads the series, 78-33-5.
▪ Revere at Winthrop (93rd meeting) — Revere (4-6, 4-2) has won five straight over Winthrop (6-4, 3-0), the longest streak for the Patriots in this border war.
▪ Nauset at Dennis-Yarmouth (25th meeting) — After going 1-12 between the Fall II and 2021 seasons, Nauset (6-4, 2-2) is on the rise under Jesse Peno (’99), who also helped resurrect the boys’ lacrosse program at his alma mater. Dennis-Yarmouth (3-7, 2-2) owns an 18-6 advantage in the series and has taken 12 of the last 13 meetings.
▪ Weymouth at Walpole (25th meeting) — Another rivalry reaching the quarter-century mark this season, this clash between Bay State Conference foes shouldn’t lack for offense. Walpole senior Corey Kilroy has over 3,000 passing yards and 43 total touchdowns over the last two years and senior captain Andrew Falzone needs 146 rushing yards to reach the 1,000-yard mark. Walpole is looking to move to 20-5 in the series.
The high school Super Bowl matchups are set — 8:15 a.m.
The schedule is set as eight MIAA state high school football championship games are slated for Gillette Stadium between Dec. 2-3. Three games kick off the slate on Friday, Dec. 2, followed by five more on Saturday. It’s the 15th year that Gillette has hosted the games, and the fifth time that all eight finals will be played in Foxborough.
Tickets are $17 for adults and $14 for students/senior citizens. Children 5 years old and younger will receive free admission. Tickets for the games are on sale now via Ticketmaster. No tickets will be sold at the Gillette Stadium Ticket Office.
Saturday, Dec. 3, at Gillette Stadium, 12:30 p.m.
▪ SPRINGFIELD CENTRAL (10-1) vs. ST. JOHN’S PREP (9-2)
▪ Springfield Central 54, Methuen 14: Will Watson sparks Springfield Central on a roaring start in D1 semifinal win over Methuen
▪ St. John’s Prep 28, Central Catholic 7: Angry and animated, St. John’s Prep seconds its effort to take command in Division 1 semifinal
Saturday, Dec. 3, at Gillette Stadium, 8 p.m.
▪ KING PHILIP (9-1) vs. CATHOLIC MEMORIAL (10-0)
▪ Catholic Memorial 41, Milford 7: Datrell Jones, No. 4 Catholic Memorial raise standard in runaway Division 2 semifinal win over No. 1 Milford
▪ King Philip 17, Bishop Feehan 10: Making plays, King Philip finds a way again, earning fifth bowl trip since 2016
Saturday, Dec. 3, at Gillette Stadium, 5:30 p.m.
▪ MILTON (10-0) vs. WAKEFIELD (11-0)
▪ Milton 32, Hanover 30
▪ Wakefield 31, North Attleborough 24
Friday, Dec. 2, at Gillette Stadium, 8 p.m.
▪ DUXBURY (10-0) vs. GRAFTON (11-0)
▪ Duxbury 42, Holliston 14
▪ Grafton 21, Foxborough 12
Friday, Dec. 2, at Gillette Stadium, 5:30 p.m.
▪ NORTH READING (10-1) vs. SHAWSHEEN (11-0)
▪ Shawsheen 21, Dover-Sherborn 14
▪ North Reading 32, Bishop Fenwick 29: With guile, Matthew Guidebeck’s game-ending 38-yard boot sends North Reading back to Division 5 Super Bowl
Saturday, Dec. 3, at Gillette Stadium, 3 p.m.
▪ ST. MARY’S (10-1) vs. STONEHAM (10-1)
▪ Stoneham 24, Cardinal Spellman 17: Colin Farren helps top-seeded Stoneham pull ahead, hang on in Division 6 semifinal win over Cardinal Spellman
▪ St. Mary’s 15, Rockland 14: St. Mary’s hangs tough on defense against Rockland to earn a trip to the Division 6 Super Bowl
Friday, Dec. 2, at Gillette Stadium, 3 p.m.
▪ WEST BOYLSTON (10-1) vs. ST. BERNARD’S (10-1)
▪ West Boylston 32, Amesbury 20: With a 21-point second half, West Boylston runs to Division 7 semifinal win over Amesbury
▪ St. Bernard’s 32, Cohasset 19: Damien Jones, Antonio Mancini a dynamic duo for St. Bernard’s in a Division 7 semifinal triumph over Cohasset
Saturday, Dec. 3, at Gillette Stadium, 10 a.m.
▪ HULL (11-0) vs. KIPP (7-4)
▪ Hull 35, Old Colony 12: John Gianibas dominates second half as Hull returns to Division 8 Super Bowl
Bring the shades and the earmuffs, it’s going to be cold and sunny this morning — 8:00 a.m.
After temperatures fell into the 20s in some parts of the state last night, Thanksgiving morning will bring blue sky and frozen ground. It’s one of those mornings where you’ll want your sunglasses and your winter coat. Don’t be fooled by the sunshine, make sure to bundle up.
Expect temperatures around 40 for those 10 a.m. kickoffs, with it warming up another 5 or so degrees by noon. Wind should be light and no precipitation is expected.
And be careful on the roads. The low sun angle this time of year slows down traffic even when weather is otherwise perfect. Some of the busier places of Route 128 as well as the Mass Pike can see a traffic jam just from the inability of people to feel comfortable driving in those places.