Blogs > The Best of Don Seeley's Columns

Former Mercury sports editor Don Seeley passed away in June 2013 from a heart attack. For more than a decade Seeley wrote about local sports. Featured here are his columns that were previously printed in The Mercury.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Turkey Day games getting chopped?

Next week may be the final Thanksgiving Day football feast for this area.

For those who would welcome such news, don’t get too excited yet. For those who would be disheartened by such news, don’t get too upset yet.

Not quite yet.

Some coaches – not all coaches, mind you – have made it clear they’re in favor of starting their respective Pioneer Athletic Conference seasons a week earlier and finishing up their regular seasons on the first weekend of November. And they’re not alone, either. Starting early and finishing early, or squeezing the season into 10 weeks, seems to be what most coaches around the state favor as well.

The PIAA is expected to make that entire lot very happy by the end of the year. After two readings and subsequent lopsided votes supporting the condensed 10-week regular season, the PIAA will no doubt accept – following next month’s third and final reading – the proposal.

So, unless the good Lord allows Aloysius Lilius and Pope Gregory XIII to email Earth’s authorities a new version of the calendar they invented for us way back in the late 1500s (the one we still use to this day), get prepared for 10-game seasons in the future.

Ten … that’s it. Kick it off the first weekend of September, finish it up the first weekend of November – 10 weeks, 10 games.

So, the only way anyone is going to play more than 10 games is to qualify for the postseason, or earn a spot in district play through one of two formats – point standings and power ratings – currently used to determine who does and who does not qualify for the playoffs.

Mind you, teams will still be permitted to play beyond that date, even on Thanksgiving. But finding a non-league opponent to help cut into what would otherwise be a three-week layoff for teams not involved in the playoffs would be difficult. Asking players to go through the motions for three weeks of practice and then ignite their competitive fires after the long layoff would be unfair, too. And those are all challenges subject to finding two schools who actually want to play one another on Thanksgiving.

A couple of scheduling conflicts in the past – how St. Pius X and Pottsgrove played one game on a Wednesday night and another in what would be their final game on Thanksgiving with junior varsity players because of playoff games ahead of them on those respective weekends – have also weakened the support for Thanksgiving Day football.

There could be another conflict next week, too. If Phoenixville defeats Academy Park in Friday night’s District 1-Class AAA semifinal, the Phantoms would face a Thanksgiving Day game with Spring-Ford – which needs a win to clinch the PAC-10 title outright – and then have to come back either Friday or Saturday to play for the district title.

If that scenario unfolds, rest assured it will, in all likelihood, take whatever stuffing right out of Thanksgiving Day football.

So, for now at least, two of the area’s three remaining Thanksgiving games – Boyertown and Upper Perkiomen and Phoenixville and Spring-Ford – seem destined to be pushed up to earlier dates on their respective schedules beginning next season.

The jury is still out, as they say, on the third matchup – Owen J. Roberts and Pottstown – the area’s only genuine Thanksgiving Day rivalry. The Wildcats and Trojans have been lining up against one another on Thanksgiving morning for more than 50 years now. Their game still has the support of a few coaches, some administrators, and a whole lot of fans. They have, as many say, the utmost respect for its tradition.

Who knows for sure, but they may also have the only game in the surrounding neighborhoods on Thanksgiving beginning next year.

The Pottsgrove-Pope John Paul II game in last week’s District 1-Class AAA opening round was the third instance in which Pioneer Athletic Conference teams have gone up against one another in the postseason, each time in the AAA bracket.

Upper Perkiomen avenged a 41-14 regular-season loss to Lansdale Catholic by defeating the Crusaders, 29-26, in the first round of districts in 1997. Perkiomen Valley also avenged a 36-27 regular-season loss to LC by defeating the Crusaders, 48-14, in the first round of districts in 1998. Ironically, Upper Perkiomen and LC shared the PAC-10 title in 1997, and Perkiomen Valley and LC – along with Spring-Ford – shared the title in 1998.

There have been two other games in which PAC-10 schools have played one another in the postseason, only not when both were members of the league. In 1995, Methacton – which would join the Pioneer Athletic Conference 13 years later – defeated Great Valley, 20-14, for the District 1-AAA title. In 2008, Great Valley – in its first year out of the PAC-10 and back in the Ches-Mont League – dropped a double-overtime 30-29 thriller to Owen J. Roberts in a District 1-AAA opening round game.

If Phoenixville defeats Academy Park and Pottsgrove gets by Strath Haven this Friday night in the two District 1-AAA semifinals, it would set up a first time all-Pioneer Athletic Conference district final.

Spring-Ford surrendered 60 points to Coatesville in last Friday night’s District 1-Class AAAA debut, which matched the school record for most points allowed in a game. The only other time a Spring-Ford team allowed 60 or more points was in a 60-3 loss to PAC-10 champion Pottstown in 2002. The three points – Eric Gall’s field goal, which capped the Rams’ first drive of the evening – were the only points the Trojans permitted during the entire regular season. … PAC-10 schools are 0-5 – and been outscored 194-80 – in Class AAAA district playoff games.



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