SOUTH PLAINFIELD-- The Mayor’s trophy and bragging rights will be up for grabs once again, as the South Plainfield High School football team and North Plainfield High School will be facing off in their annual Thanksgiving Day rivalry game.
When the two teams square off at the Canucks’(1-8) home field at 10:30 a.m. today, it’ll mark the 44th time the cross-town rivals have taken part in the holiday game. Even outside of the context of the storied Thanksgiving game, a win for either team would go a long way in making this season a positive experience.
The Tigers (4-5) have recently made some great strides in reconciling what’s been a difficult and injury-plagued season. A series of injuries forced South Plainfield to play much of the season without three of their key two-way players, including standout quarterback and linebacker Charles Lovett who went down with a thigh injury in an early season 13-7 loss against Woodbridge.
That loss marked the end of the two game winning streak the Tigers opened the season with, and marked the beginning of a five game losing skid.South Plainfield never gave up though. Led by the rough-and-tumble rushing of Zach DelVecchio the team has snagged wins in their last two games. DelVecchio, who has seven touchdowns on the season, very well could be the x-factor for the Tigers come Thanksgiving morning. The junior running back often picks up yards the hard way with his no-frills hard-nosed style of rushing, and coming into Thursday’s game he’ll be just 44 yards shy of having 1000 on the season.
North Plainfield will also be trying to end a tough season on a good note. The Canucks dropped eight straight games before they earned their first win of the season in a dominant consolation game win over Princeton. Their record might not reflect it, but North Plainfield has still shown that they possess a potent offense. The Canucks have scored 20 or more points in six of their games, and put up 54 points in their shutout win against Princeton.
The play of Brandon Smith should be something to keep your eyes on Thanksgiving, as the Canuck quarterback has racked up 952 yards and six touchdowns on the ground this season while throwing for 701 yards. If Smith makes a big passing play on Thursday, odds are Tony Godwin will be on the receiving end. Godwin is averaging a whopping 17.1 yards per catch in 36 catches for 616 yards.
Although the Tigers have experienced more success this season, the Canucks have history on their side. North Plainfield has won 13 of the last 14 rivalry games and leads the series 27-15-1. Regardless of what’s happened in the recent or distant past, both teams will be creating their own little piece of history come game time.