This week's NBC10 Blitz "Game of the Week" is Haddon Heights versus Haddonfield. The longtime neighborhood rivalry came from behind to win the last "High School Blitz" matchup for the 2013 football season. The Camden County teams won by earning 54-percent of the votes cast. The Central-Northeast matchup earned 41-percent and the Vineland-Millville game grabbed 5-percent of the votes.
This year will be the 105th Thanksgiving Day football meeting of the two neighboring teams. The first turkey bowl was played in 1902 but was not played in 1915, 1917 and 1918 due to World War I, according to Haddonfield coach Frank DeLano. The overall record is 56-42-6 with Haddonfield in the lead with more wins. The two teams rotate home fields every year.
This year's turkey bowl takes place at 11 a.m. at Haddon Heights High School. The Haddon Heights Garnets ended this year's regular season with a 3-6 record. Haddon Heights had a strong showing last Thanksgiving Day and beat Haddonfield 14-7.
"Some schools have rivalries, this is a tradition. Generations of families will be in attendance. The stories go on forever and the memories last a lifetime. It’s a really awesome atmosphere," said DeLano. "It’s Thanksgiving Day and anything can happen. It's a final moment of how you want to be remembered for the season. It’s an important game."
Haddonfield will square off for the South Jersey Group II State Championship in December. But for now, DeLano is focused on the Heights game. Haddonfield has a 8-2 record so far this year.
"We have a lot of spirited young players. We have a very young team. They could have packed it in a long time ago, but they show up every game. They kept after it all season long. We got wins," said Ralph Schiavo, Haddon Heights' head coach. "It’s a big deal. You can lose all your games and win Thanksgiving Day and it’s a successful season. I understand the importance of the game."
Eric Newell, an assistant Heights coach, played in the turkey bowl just a handful of years ago. He's back on the team as a coach to continue the tradition.
At the end of the game, the Heights and Haddonfield coaches gather both teams together for a talk at midfield to share what it means to be thankful.
For game highlights, watch the High School Blitz Game of the Week show on Saturday at 7 p.m. on NBC10 with John Clark and Jillian Mele.
Good luck to both teams!