PATERSON – He has been called “Mousey,” the diminutive unofficial representative of Kennedy football , for as long as anyone can remember.
From the seemingly ancient Saturday afternoons within the bowels of old Hinchliffe Stadium, to the current well-lit turf site at Baurle Field adjacent to Public School 15, he has worn the same red Kennedy jersey and wool hat and fondly remembers more than half ninety-five Thanksgiving Day games between cross city rivals, Eastside and Kennedy.
The tradition has touched everyone, from the head coaches, Kennedy’s Ron Jackson and Eastside’s James Magazine, both veterans of the annual contest.
Their assistants were also former players and coaches.
As Ghost and Knight seniors were introduced before the game, parents and other relatives also claimed veteran game day statuses and reflected on memories of packed stands, blaring band music, and bragging rights lasting until the next Thanksgiving contest.
The bragging rights this year, belong to the Ghosts, who snapped a five-year series drought by downing the Knights, 18-6.
The win evens the overall series with both schools claiming forty-four wins, and seven ties.
For Magazine it was a chance to win the city championship in his first year, just as Jackson did in his debut for Kennedy in 2004.
Eastside’s defense was opportunistic throughout the night, and Kennedy’s offense, though able to move the ball, had trouble holding on to it.
Stalled in four plays after the opening kickoff, the Ghosts pinned the Knights at their own 10.
Two plays later from the 12, Eastside, Jordan Quinero broke through the middle of the line, scooped up a loose ball on one bounce, and rumbled into the endzone for a quick 6-0 lead with 9:00 left in the first quarter.
Kennedy’s only sustained drive of the evening came later in the quarter, going forty-nine yards in seven plays, as junior quarterback, Chris Silfa, lofted a perfect pass on the left sideline to senior receiver, Jamier Wright-Collins to tie the score at the 4:20 mark.
After trading possessions, Eastside took over after a Kennedy punt was downed at their 28.
On the next play, senior running back, Albert Canty, took a handoff, cut left, and sprinted 72 yards down the sidelines for a 12-6 Ghosts lead with :38 left.
The defenses stiffened for both schools until late in the half, when Kennedy drive fifty-one yards down to the Ghosts 2.
Silfa was stuffed in his own backfield on fourth down.
Halftime came two plays later.
Eastside had opportunities to blow the game open in the third quarter, but only managed to cash in once.
Senior defensive back, Altymir Jones, picked off a pass, and returned it to the Kennedy 30.
A penalty for an illegal block brought the ball back inside Eastside territory, to the 45.
Kennedy received the ball after a three and out, but turned it over again on the first play, as sophomore safety, Ashin Jacobs, intercepted a floater in the middle of the field, and returned it to the Knights 10.
Another three and out gave the ball back to the Knights at their own 4.
Three plays later, Eastside broke through the middle of the line and forced another fumble, recovering it at the Knights 3.
Canty blasted through a hole on the right side of the line on the next play to put the Ghosts up 18-6.
Two more turnovers in the fourth quarter, a fumbled punt and a last-minute interception by Jacobs, ended the contest.
With the win Eastside finished the season at 5-4, their first winning season since 2011, while Kennedy, after making the playoffs, drops to 4-6.
Coaches and players from both schools exchanged hugs and handshakes at midfield after the game, making true the statement posted at the back of the game day program – “One City, One Game.”
After two hours of hard hits and intense play, the score is recorded in the record books, and both schools will now hit the hardwood to renew rivalries on the basketball court.
Just the way they have always done since the rivalry began, ninety-five years ago, and will again, this time next year, and for years to come.
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