With Thanksgiving upon us, each Yahoo Sports blog is taking stock of what they're thankful for while also providing menu suggestions and a sport-specific viewing guide for when you hit your couch. Share what you're thankful for on Twitter with the #YSBThanks hashtag or in the comments below. Have a safe and happy holiday!
Cameron Smith, Prep Rally editor
There are 50 states in the union. Some are large, complete with multiple professional sports organizations and top-tier college programs. Others are small and have only smaller collegiate athletic offerings, if that. Yet all of these states have a plethora of high school programs, and all of them have terrific sports traditions of their own. We could spend years going through each and every school, but here are a few that make Prep Rally smile every time:
• The nation's oldest interstate Thanksgiving Day football rivalry: Just in time for the teams' 107th matchup on Thursday, Easton High (Easton, Penn.) and Phillipsburg High (Phillipsburg, N.J.) will compete in the Stateliner game between the two adjoining towns on either side of the border between the two states. Easton is the second winningest football program in Pennsylvania history. Phillipsburg has more wins than any team in New Jersey state history. The two face off in a heated matchup every year, regardless of the weather. This year should be no different, come rain, sleet or snow. Their matchups have drawn as many as 20,000 fans, served as the first-ever nationally televised high school football game on ESPN in 1988 and remains among the most heated rivalries in sports, regardless of level of competition. It's even better than advertised.
• Cathy Parker Field: There are terrific prep sports facilities all across the nation, but none can compare with Cathy Parker Field in America's northernmost town, Barrow, Alaska. Funded by more than $500,000 raised predominantly in Georgia and the Southeast, Cathy Parker Field features a picturesque blue turf field just in front of a sea of piercing blue water and ice. It's a remarkable sight, and an inspiring one for athletes who were forced to play on a frozen field that was as hard as a rocky field before Cathy Parker Field became a reality.
• Prep sports pioneers: Natalie Randolph, the woman who transformed a D.C. football program and inspired improved performance in the classroom as well as on the field, stepped aside to spend more time with her family and students in her classroom. Meanwhile, the editorial board of a high school newspaper refused to use the school's Redskins mascot in print stood up not only to what they felt was a racially insensitive nickname, but also to school officials who tried to force their hand back into writing Redskins. One was a true pioneer, the other group a game changer. One leaves as the other emerges, but both are leaving behind a powerful legacy.
• Good sportsmanship: In 2010, Ike Ditzenberger ran for a touchdown on a play that was seen as a breakthrough for athletes with special abilities. Four years later, multiple schools have taken that page from the Snohomish playbook and brought tears to the eyes of fans, family members and teammates alike. It never gets old.
Ben Rohrbach, Prep Rally contributor
• I’m thankful for YouTube, because without it we’d be robbed of all the ridiculous prep sporting moments that occur on various playing surfaces across the country every day. Unlike collegiate or professional sports, where we have the benefit of a TV camera to capture each nose hair of a given athlete, high school highlights often endure solely through cell phone videos that only magnify their purity.
• How can you not be thankful for the recruiting underworld that leaks drip by drip from the college level, leaving a stain on that aforementioned purity — but also provides endless comedic storylines? A college coach telling the nation’s top football recruit he’ll get to meet Michael Jackson if he comes to his school? That happened.
• But let’s keep it pure. How can you not be thankful for all the good in youth sports -- from a prep football team renovating a war veteran’s home to an All-State swimmer announcing his sexuality during a graduation speech and everything in between.
• It wouldn’t be Turkey Day in Massachusetts without Thanksgiving rivalry games, where my previous four addresses featured high school rivalries that are a combined 470 years old, so thank you Wellesley, Barnstable, Southie and Boston.
• Mostly I’m thankful for Davidson (N.C.) Day School’s ridiculously patriotic uniforms, pictured above, because they offer a reminder that we live in the greatest country in the world—a standard we would not enjoy without the brave men and women who miss Thanksgiving with their families in order to protect our freedom overseas.
Here's what's filling our cornucopia for the Prep Rally Thanksgiving feast:
• Frito pie. Never had a Frito pie? Quick, go find your next nearby prep sports event, go buy a ticket, walk directly to the concession stand and buy one. They are ubiquitous in prep sports, and they are always delicious, though they won't fit within the parameters of any kind of a diet. The most authentic are served right out of the bag, as you see above, but we'll happily take them on styrofoam plates, too. With sour cream and jalapenos, please!
• Fun Dip: The most notable form of youth sports is Little League, and nothing sells better at Little League concession stands than candy. Of all the available sugar treats, none are a more perfect fit for Little League action than Fun Dip, the candy that comes with a candy dipping stick and multiple flavors of pseudo-lagoons of pixie stick sugar. It's a one-way ticket to diabetes-ville, but for a 10-year-old it's also edible heaven.
• Nachos from under a heat lamp: This a specific requirement. If your nachos come with the stupid little self-contained cheese and separate tortilla chips, we're not interested. We need big, sloppy nachos with chips, melted Velveeta, jalapenos and ideally shredded cheese as well. And sour cream. Yes, this is a health risk based on the refrigeration capabilities of your local field house. We don't care. We'll eat them every time.
• The fourth quarter/5th inning/3rd period (hockey) special: You know the drill. Jean/Jimbo/Jeffy/Old Man Wilson bought too many hot dogs or hamburgers or chicken cutlets at the local Costco stocking up for the game, and they have got to move that delicious merchandise before the end of the game when it goes to the raccoons in the dumpster. Half price? No way. We're talking $1 dogs, burgers, whatever. And whatever it is, you have to go buy one. Not because you want a hot dog, but because you have to do your civic duty.
It doesn't get much more Thanksgiving than a high school football turkey toss. If you haven't seen one before, you are hereby required to watch this highlight reel. It's absolutely must-see prep sports kitsch.
In truth, there isn't much nationwide high school football coverage on Thanksgiving for good reason: You should be out at your morning prep football game in person. That's your civic duty. Still, if you have to stay home and tend to the turkey, there are at least two options, both of which start off bright and early at 10 a.m.:
• FoxSports1 will air the most heated and hyped rivalry in New Jersey, between Don Bosco Prep (Ramsey, N.J.) and St. Joseph Regional (Montvale, N.J.). Opening kick off is 10 a.m.
• There will be television coverage of the aforementioned Easton-Phillipsburg game on RCN cable in Pennsylvania and New Jersey. It can also be streamed live at MaxPreps right here. Opening kick off is 10:30 a.m.
If that isn't enough to sate your football appetite, don't worry, more prep football will be on the way with local state playoffs and state championship games airing on cable networks in markets across the country beginning on Friday night.
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