PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — In the Philadelphia area, high school football games on Thanksgiving Day is a tradition that stretches back more than 124 years. But the pandemic has upended some of those long-standing traditions between rivals.
Haverford and Upper Darby high schools have played each other 98 times, with many of those games happening on Thanksgiving Day.
“It's been a long-standing community tradition that's important to a lot of people. It's important to me personally. I played at Haverford High School so I was part of the rivalry personally, as a player,” said Upper Darby head football coach David Barr.
Barr said Thanksgiving Day games have been a special way for his team to close out their season and evaluate their growth.
“We love the tradition of it. There's a lot of people who have huge moments in that game, recently and in the past,” Barr said.
Gretchen Cammiso, Upper Darby’s athletic director, said it was a tough call for the schools to cancel this year's game.
“Really keeping in what the tradition has really grown into with alumni and not just the football game, but different community and school events, it really wasn't going to be able to be the experience that everyone has come to expect and look forward to on Thanksgiving,” Cammiso said.
Officials say the schools plan on renewing their rivalry next year when they can face off for the 99th time.