Thanksgiving has come a bit early for the Manchester Essex football team this season.
Not literally, but with Thanksgiving Day rival Georgetown squaring off against the Hornets tonight at Hyland Field (7 p.m.) before the last Thursday in November for the first time since 1990, the team is treating the game with the importance of a Turkey Day showdown.
The Hornets and Royals will meet again on Thanksgiving morning in Georgetown, and could meet another time in the Division 5 playoffs or consolation round, but head coach Mike Athanas’ team is only looking at the present, and treating the first meeting between the two longtime rivals as if its a postseason meeting.
“It’s a rivalry game, it is in every sport,” Athanas said. “We are treating this like it’s our Thanksgiving Day game, it’s a big game for both of us, the league opener, and everybody wants to start off the league schedule with a win.”
As it is with most rivalries, you can throw the records out the window when these two teams meet. Although the Royals enter the game with an 0-2 mark (Manchester Essex is 1-1), Athanas has seen them too often to judge them by their record.
“You can usually throw out the records on Thanksgiving,” Athanas said. “Who knows what will happen this week but that’s the way we’re viewing it and I think they are too.”
When the teams meet on Hyland Field tonight, they will do so with similar philosophies. Both teams run the spread offense, both teams like to run a balanced offense out of the spread, but the two take slightly different approaches.
Georgetown, who opened the season with losses to Cathedral and Greater Lawrence, runs the read option out of the spread formation with quarterback Colby Ingraham being the focal point of the unit. The Royals quarterback is a threat to run and a threat to throw, and the Hornets need to be wary of all his skills.