Thanksgiving Day and HS Football Rivalries in NJ
Just like pork roll or getting stuck in traffic on the Parkway going down the shore on any given summer weekend, there’s probably nothing more “Jersey” than high school football between 2 hotly contested rivals on Thanksgiving morning.
Even if you never played the game, you can’t help but get caught up in the hype of the states longest football feuds – some going back more than 100 years.
My introduction into Jersey life actually was 26 years ago this week. I had just moved to Manalapan from Brooklyn and had received a message at the radio station where I was working asking me if I wanted to host the pre-game bonfire Thanksgiving eve at Manalapan High.
I thought: “Wow! How cool! A bonfire! The only time anyone lit bonfires in Brooklyn was if they were looking to burn a car in an insurance ripoff!”
That’s when I learned of the impending game between long running rivals Manalapan and Marlboro, which was to be played the next morning.
And as I’ve come to find out, that wasn’t the only one.
Vineland and Millville will meet for the 141st time in the state’s longest-running Thanksgiving series and one of the nation’s oldest rivalries. The Cumberland County opponents have been playing since 1893.
Five other holiday series whose opponents have met more than 100 times will be renewed, with Westfield facing Plainfield, Easton of Pennsylvania meeting Phillipsburg, Haddonfield taking on Haddon Heights, Salem facing Woodstown and East Orange going against Barringer.
Hamilton High School West vs. Steinert High School–
Played on Thanksgiving Day since 1960 as this is the crosstown rivalry in Hamilton Township (Mercer County).
Hopewell Valley Central High School vs. Lawrence High School–
A new Thanksgiving Day Game as this game has been played on Thanksgiving Day since 2012 and mirrors the annual Hamilton West/Steinert game as the other Thanksgiving Day game in Mercer County New Jersey.
Hackensack High School vs. Teaneck High School–
have played annually every Thanksgiving morning since 1931.
Don Bosco Prep vs. Paramus Catholic:–
Don Bosco Preparatory High School in Ramsey, one of the top high school football programs in the United States, and Paramus Catholic High School in Paramus are traditional Thanksgiving rivals.
Phillipsburg vs. Easton, PA
Phillipsburg High School and Easton High School have been playing each other since 1905. The first Thanksgiving Day meeting was in 1916 and the schools have played each other annually ever since. The winner of the game is presented with the Forks of the Delaware Trophy, as both schools are located from different states (Phillipsburg from NJ, Easton from PA) on opposite sides of the Delaware River. The game is played each year at Fisher Field located on the campus of Lafayette College as a neutral site.
Ridgewood vs. Paramus
Ridgewood High School and Paramus High School was played every Thanksgiving morning annually from 1984 to 2013.
East Orange vs. Barringer
East Orange High School and Barringer High School have played since 1897.
Millville vs. Vineland
This rivalry has been contested since 1894.
Westfield vs. Plainfield
Westfield and Plainfield has been played since 1900 and celebrated its 100th game in 2005.
Watchung Hills vs. Ridge
North Plainfield vs. South Plainfield
East Brunswick vs. Old Bridge
East Brunswick High School and Old Bridge High School compete annually in the Battle Of Route 18 football game. The rivalry began in 1994 when Cedar Ridge High School and Madison Central High School merged into Old Bridge High School, and has since played East Brunswick every year on Thanksgiving morning. The contests alternates home field advantage each year, and each side awards an offensive and defensive MVP.
Palmyra High School and Burlington City High School
have played on Thanksgiving since the 1930s; the rivalry began in 1908, and is one of the oldest high school rivalries in the Delaware Valley.
Madison vs. Millburn
Alternates fields each year. The mayors typically make bets, with the losing team providing the winners with a platter of sloppy joes. Also, the loser must wash the other team’s cars without pants on.
Red Bank Catholic vs. Rumson Fair-Haven
Game played annually since 1921. Presents Peninsula Trophy to winner
New Providence vs. Berkeley Heights
This rivalry has been contested for only a few years, but is very popular in the surrounding areas of New Providence, Summit, and Berkeley Heights. The Turkey Bowl is usually saved by NPHS stand out athlete Vincent Fuschetto.
Middletown South vs. Middletown North
Middletown High School South and Middletown High School North varsity teams play annually, with the home team alternating every year. 2010 marked the 35th game played between the two schools, with Middletown South beating Middletown North 20–7. Middletown South leads the rivalry with a record of 23–11–1 over Middletown North.
Toms River HS South vs Lakewood High School
Shawnee High School vs Lenape High School
Which is the New Jersey high school football team you’ll be rooting for this Thanksgiving Day?