Remember the glory days of Thanksgiving
Hope your Thanksgiving holiday was a memorable time with family and loved ones. Mother Nature certainly gave us perfect weather on Thanksgiving Day, one for the ages for sure and “glory days” celebrated another year. Took advantage of the great 52 degree weather and attended the Southbridge at Bartlett football game in Webster. The Veterans Memorial Field was in excellent condition on upper Ray Street and all things being equal, one couldn’t ask for a more spectacular setting. The “ glory days” fans who anticipated this longtime tradition between Webster and Southbridge couldn’t have scripted the 9:45 a.m. arrival time any better.
The Bartlett green uniforms and the Southbridge red were a magnificent backdrop to the blue sky above. One for the ages for sure. To the players who suited up for this 100-plus year traditional battle, this space gives you credit for keeping this tradition alive and hopes of a game next year. The player product was thin in roster numbers on both sides, but to those who put the uniform on this past Thanksgiving , your courage to do so should be commended. And you gave the fans an exciting game.
Times have changed for sure over the years and this year’s Bartlett-Southbridge game has taken on a whole new meaning to Thanksgiving Day schoolboy football. Despite the perfect weather conditions, attendance was sparse and limited. My contemporaries will tell me I am generous in estimating the number of fans at 200.
The real tragic numbers are that both the Bartlett and Southbridge roster numbers were between 20-25. The dwindling rosters in both schools have been spiraling downward over the past five years. The Thanksgiving rivalry between the Indians and Pioneers has lost its appeal over the past five years as well.
Bryce Patterson of Bartlett was the talk around the Webster faithful for his passionate and desirable play on Thanksgiving morning. It was the productive Patterson, in true Patterson family bloodline, who scored all of Bartlett’s 12 points and had 101 yards rushing on six carries. That’s almost 17 yards a carry. He should have carried the pigskin every time. Like Noel Lefebvre did for Bartlett in 1972 and 1973. Patterson could have done like Lefebvre did with no problem. Ride the Patterson horse on the last game of the year. Southbridge led at halftime 16-14 and eventually pulled away to a 28-14 victory.
Both teams entered this rivalry in 2021 winless at 0-8. The truth is both of these traditions took their pre-game warm- ups on life support. Southbridge had to forfeit twice because of safety issues and Bartlett bandaided their way through this 2021 season.
We are not going to survive this sport of high school football in towns like Webster and Southbridge in 2022 unless we up those roster numbers to 35 per team. Seeing this on Thanksgiving morning is no fun for anyone. Bringing back a tradition nowadays is tough. The cookie is already crumbled, kids don’t like football anymore and this Thanksgiving morning wasn’t a good look. Is building up the rosters to 35 and bringing back a solid junior varsity only wishful thinking?