Teams meet over lunch table, line of scrimmage

By Janice Steinhagen - Staff Writer
Griswold - posted Tue., Nov. 29, 2011
Griswold quarterback Adam Davis (14) looks for his target during the Thanksgiving game against Plainfield. Photos by Janice Steinhagen.
Griswold quarterback Adam Davis (14) looks for his target during the Thanksgiving game against Plainfield. Photos by Janice Steinhagen.

They may have clashed helmets on the turf on Turkey day, but the Griswold and Plainfield football teams spent the previous Tuesday breaking bread together. Griswold High School, which hosted this year’s Thanksgiving day football match-up between the longtime rival schools, also hosted a handful of players, cheerleaders and even choir members on Nov. 22. The Plainfield High School students, accompanied by their athletic director and head coach, visited the school and had a turkey-and–trimmings lunch in the cafeteria.

It’s a pre-game tradition that dates back to 2000, when the PHS-GHS game was moved to Thanksgiving Day, said GHS athletic director Glenn LaBossiere. The idea, he said, is to encourage the “friendly” part of the rivalry.

“We try to tell the kids, ‘If these kids were at your school they’d probably be your friends,’” he said. “It’s a good chance for the captains to get together, and the ADs and coaches all know each other.”

Choir members from both schools practiced to sing the national anthem together, and cheerleaders worked out an “orange and green” routine that they performed together at halftime.

The rivalry itself dates back to 1937 and continues until the present, broken only during the World War II years. Greg Carpenter knows all the history, since he printed it on the back of the t-shirts he was selling at the game to raise funds for the scholarship he set up in memory of his dad, Paul Carpenter.

Years ago, the elder Carpenter tried out for the GHS team, but the walk home to Canterbury from Jewett City every night finally forced him to quit, said Carpenter. “He made sure I went to football practice, though,” he added. Greg played for Plainfield and now lives in Vermont.

The scholarship, he said, isn’t designated for top students but “for the person that’s average… [but] who works hard,” Carpenter said. Currently, it goes to a varsity basketball player. Carpenter said this year he’ll also offer one to a varsity football player.

GHS continued its nine-year Thanksgiving Day winning streak, pulling out a 21-20 victory in the game. Griswold ended its season with a 6-4 record.

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