The Revere High football team will be a slight favorite over Winthrop when coach Lou Cicatelli and his Patriots take the field for the 87th renewal of their Thanksgiving Day rivalry at the Vikings’ new Miller Field complex. The opening kickoff is set for the usual 10 a.m.
Although both teams enter the fray with 2-8 records, Revere rates the edge in terms of better performance against the teams’ common opponent this season. The Patriots handily defeated Medford, 29-7, while Winthrop absorbed a 26-8 defeat to the Mustangs.
Indeed, the Vikings have been outscored by wide margins in most of their games this season, only breaking into the win column against a pair of opponents from the Commonwealth Athletic Conference in the last two weeks, Mystic Valley (23-18) and Northeast Regional (20-14), both of whom Winthrop met in the loser’s bracket of the MIAA football tournament.
However, as Cicatelli is quick to point out, “Season records mean nothing when it comes to the Revere-Winthrop game on Thanksgiving,” said the veteran RHS coach, who also experienced the fierceness of the rivalry when he played for RHS in the early 1980s. “It’s a whole new season. Regardless of their records, both teams are playing for pride in front of the biggest crowd of the year. For the seniors, it’s their last game of their high school careers. Emotions will run high on both sides of the field. It’s always a close, hard-fought game. Winthrop has been improving as the season has progressed and we expect the game to go right down to the wire”.
The keys to a Revere victory will be two-fold:
1) The Patriot defense has been tough all year and should be able to dominate the Winthrop offense. If the Revere defense can win the battle of field position, it will make the task for their offense much easier.
2) The Revere offense must avert mistakes (penalties and turnovers) and control the line-of-scrimmage. If they can do so, they should be able to utilize hard-running backs such as Darius McNeil to establish ball control and maintain long drives.
The Patriots will have an added incentive when they take the field thanks to the decision of the Winthrop School Committee to turn down an offer to have the game played at Fenway Park that had been arranged by State Rep. and Speaker of the House Bob DeLeo.
The Revere side was fully in favor of having the players from both teams enjoy the thrill-of-a-lifetime by playing under the lights at Fenway the night before Thanksgiving, and even agreed to have next year’s game be played in Winthrop.
However, the Winthrop School Committee caved to the desires of a few vocal constituents and nixed the Fenway encounter, an inexplicable and selfish decision that has left a bad taste in the mouths of the Revere team and their fans.
The Patriots will be relatively healthy for the encounter. Their lone key player missing from action will be junior Anthony Scoppettuolo, who was performing at a high level on both sides of the ball when he suffered a broken ankle three weeks ago, ending his season.
The Patriots also will enjoy an edge in the kicking game thanks to the foot of senior Badr Haou, who has been a consistent place-kicker the past two seasons.
Revere won last year’s contest and has taken two of the last three. A Revere victory Thursday will mark the first time that the Patriots will have won two in a row and three-of-four since the early 1970s.
Thursday’s game also will mark the 10th anniversary of what Winthrop fans refer to as “the catch,” but what Revere fans forever will remember as “the bad call.” Revere had led that contest the entire way until the final play, when a desperation pass into the end zone was caught by a Winthrop player along the sideline of the Winthrop side of the field — which on the old Miller Field had been obliterated because of the always muddy conditions (although there had been no rain that day) of Miller, which was built on reclaimed swampland.
The referee waited seemingly forever — a count of three-plus seconds — before raising his arms to signal “touchdown.” Film of the game afterward showed that the Viking player clearly had been out of bounds — as well as in the eyes of everyone on that side of the field (who of course were Winthrop fans) — but the call stood and Winthrop left the field for their Thanksgiving dinner with a victory.
That will not be the case this year, not only because Winthrop finally has a permanently-lined turf field, but also because Revere should be well-ahead by the end of the game.
Gloucester 29-Revere 8
Marblehead 24-Revere 0
Lynn Classical 12-Revere 6
Peabody 21-Revere 0
Revere 29-Medford 7
Swampscott 35-Revere 7
Somerville 24-Revere 8
Burlington 21-Revere 20
Beverly 29-Revere 12
Revere 16-Malden 0
Danvers 31-Winthop 0
Medford 26-Winthrop 8
Swampscott 48-Winthrop 6
Lynn Classical 47-Winthrop 6
Salem 46-Winthrop 7
Saugus 40-Wwinthrop 13
Lynn English 49-Winthrop 0
Essex Tech 13-Winthrop 12
Winthrop 23-Mystic Valley 18
Winthrop 20-Northeast Regional 14