Sports

New Football Season, Same Old Rivalry as Canucks Look to Keep the ‘Big Bird’ in North Plainfield

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(Editor's Note: Amaiana Sajjad is a senior at North Plainfield High School and an intern for TAPInto North Plainfield.)

NORTH PLAINFIELD, NJ – The annual North Plainfield Canucks vs. South Plainfield Tigers Thanksgiving Football Game will take place Nov. 24 at 10:30 a.m. Fans from both towns will crowd the bleachers in South Plainfield this year, huddling together to stay warm and cheer on their respective team, Canucks supporters dressed in maroon, black and white, and Tigers supporters adorning green and white.

Each year, the passion and spirit for the Thanksgiving Game seems to grow as past and present students from both high schools along with teachers who live in and around the two towns come together to make some noise for their team.

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“The Thanksgiving game is always the most anticipated for not just the Canuck football players and cheerleaders, but for the student body and North Plainfield community,” said Katrina Bavosa, senior at NPHS and captain for the school’s varsity cheerleading team for the past three years. “There is a lot of pressure to defend our trophy against South Plainfield, especially because they are going to the state championships.”

For Bavosa, this year’s Thanksgiving matchup also has a ‘bittersweet note’ as well. “It is the very last game for many players and cheerleaders like myself,” she said. “I know the boys are planning on bringing their best game and I'm looking forward to seeing how everything will play out.”

On game day, Bavosa intends to keeps a smile on her face to get the team in the spirit and bring a positive mindset as she continues to focus on how far the Canucks have come.

This year’s game marks the 15th consecutive Thanksgiving Day matchup between the two rival towns. The last time that South Plainfield Tigers took home the trophy titled, Battle For the Bird, was in 2015 with a score of 26-13. However, the Canucks won every other game since the 2002, including last year’s by a score of 28-14.

“This first thing that comes to mind when thinking about the Thanksgiving game is tradition. This game isn't just about the school, the coaches, or the players who play in it, but the entire town,” said Canucks coach and defense coordinator James DiPaolo. “This game is about the alumni that come back home for the holidays. It's about the people in town who have come out to each Thanksgiving game with their optimism. The players compete to win not for their record but for the town.”

Nick Cherasaro, a NPHS senior and starting quarterback for the Canucks, added, “Knowing from my gut feeling we're going to beat one of the teams that is playing for a state title will show everyone that we were so close to putting it all together and now we did. The tradition means a lot to me because I wanted to play on this field ever since I was a little kid.”

Cherasaro is also optimistic North Plainfield will win this year. “The trophy is going to stay with us and I can't wait to see it in its place by the weight room,” he said. “We're not just playing this game for us but for everyone before us.”

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