In keeping with the good holiday spirit, we've given our local ESPN Boston staffers a turn at picking the Thanksgiving football game at their alma maters. Behold...
NO. 25 GARDNER (10-0) AT OAKMONT (7-3)
ESPNBoston.com High School Editor Brendan Hall, Oakmont Class of 2003: Proud to say in my three years representing Gang Green on Turkey Day, we never lost to the Wildcats. I know Gardner’s Jamison Craft practically walks off the bus and runs for 150 yards, but the ol’ ball coach Dave LaRoche has had the Cats’ number since before I was born. And I just turned 26. Oakmont, 24-14.
BISHOP CONNOLLY (1-8) at BISHOP STANG (2-8)
ESPNBoston.com High School Editor Scott Barboza, Connolly Class of 2002: As always, this South Coast rivalry is a big one in the Barboza household. My mother is a Spartan, so if the Cougars lose, that means I might not get a second helping of stuffing. The teams are playing for nothing more than pride and that's what being a Cougar is all about. Connolly, 13-10.
FRAMINGHAM (6-4) AT NATICK (8-2)
ESPNBoston.com Patriots Writer Mike Reiss, Framingham Class of 1993: This one hurts. As much as I want to go with my alma mater, a 50-0 loss to Weymouth has shaken my confidence, and I have to imagine it's done the same to some of the players heading into this one. Natick is at home, and this looks like a tough spot for the Flyers. Hope I'm wrong. Natick, 28-21.
OXFORD (3-7) AT NO. 11 AUBURN (9-1)
ESPNBoston.com Celtics Writer Chris Forsberg, Auburn Class of 1998: The football rivalry has become so one-sided, I tried to drum up a list of things Oxford is actually better at than Auburn. Here's what I got: 1. Go-to breakfast spot (Carl's edges The Heritage, barely, in triple overtime due to portion size), 2. Places Clara Barton was born, and 3. Team nickname. Sure, Pirates makes no sense for landlocked Oxford, but I was always kinda jealous of the black and orange. So let's quit ignoring the elephant in the room, Auburn; It's time to go back to the Dandies nickname. Oh, sure, it's far from daunting, but at least it had a little bit of originality. Sorry, Mr. Goddard and your liquid-fueled rocket, it's time to bring back the top hats. Go Dandies! Auburn, 40-7.
ESPNHS Associate Editor Mike Grimala, Auburn Class of 2000: True story — I won “Most School Spirit” in high school, so the chances of me ever picking against AHS are approximately zero percent. The fact that the Rockets are one of the best teams in the state makes this an even easier pick. Auburn, 38-6.
CARDINAL SPELLMAN (10-0) AT ARCHBISHOP WILLIAMS (1-8)
ESPNBoston.com Senior Account Executive Derek Tardanico, Archbishop Williams Class of 1992: I played in the game. We won 37-14 my senior year, and I had 3 TDs with 16 carries and 283 rushing yards that day. It’s always tough to pick against your alma mater, and all records are usually thrown out the window on Turkey Day, but Spellman rolls on Storrs Ave. Sorry Archie Bills. Spellman, 42-6.
ARLINGTON (3-7) AT ARLINGTON CATHOLIC (1-8)
ESPNHS Senior Editor Matt Remsberg, Arlington Class of 2000: It’s been a tough year for my Spy Ponders, but they’ve won two of their last three and face an A.C. team coming off a devastating loss to Cardinal Spellman, which cost them a postseason berth. Look for Arlington to catch the Cougars licking their wounds and surprise them with a narrow victory. Arlington, 15-14.
STOUGHTON (5-5) AT CANTON (3-6)
ESPNHS Associate Editor Dave Auguste, Stoughton Class of 2001: What better way to kick off your Turkey Day than with a Stoughton beatdown of Canton. Listen, I’m fully aware Stoughton squandered an opportunity to clinch the Davenport Division crown outright with last week’s loss to Oliver Ames. But with an outside shot at the playoffs on the table (we need a win and an OA loss against Sharon), they will put this game away pretty early. Look for QB Alex Fernandes to light up Canton’s secondary and Andrew Paredes and Co. to keep the Bulldogs off the scoreboard. Stoughton, 35-6.
ACTON-BOXBOROUGH (6-4) AT WESTFORD (6-4)
ESPN Recruiting Director Dave Geaslen, Acton-Boxborough Class of 1983: Pains me to think that coach Maver is in his 26th season at A-B, I graduated before his tenure began, and that the Thanksgiving game was against Maynard in my day. Back to present day, the Colonials are rebuilding and inconsistent in points scored, but they have enough fire power in the running game to send the Colonial fans home happy. A-B, 32-14.
LATIN ACADEMY (6-4) AT CHARLESTOWN (3-6)
ESPNBoston.com Colleges Reporter Jack McCluskey, Latin Academy Class of 2004: Sure, the Dragons may have backed into the postseason via a bizarre tiebreaker that awards the berth to the team that hasn’t earned it outright for the longest time, but at least they’re going! Rocco Zizza’s got my alma mater in a Super Bowl for the first time since 1994, averaging a shade more than 16 points while allowing 14. That may not sound like a recipe for success, but it’s worked for Kyle Dance & Co. so far. Considering Charlestown’s averages (18.4 against, 13.1 for) it will be a tight one on Thanksgiving. But judging from records against common opponents (Latin Academy 5-1, Charlestown 3-3) -- not to mention obvious bias -- I say BLA wins. Latin Academy, 21-16.
AMHERST (3-6) AT NORTHAMPTON (2-8)
ESPNBoston.com Editor Peter Lawrence-Riddell, Amherst Class of 1992: While the rivalry between Amherst and Northampton certainly isn’t new, this is just the seventh year of the game taking place on Thanksgiving Day. After collecting its first on-field win in the Thanksgiving series last year (Hamp forfeited the first Thanksgiving game between the two teams), Amherst starts its own series winning streak this year. Amherst, 24-13.
NORTHBRIDGE (5-5) AT UXBRIDGE (2-8)
ESPNBoston.com Editor David Lefort, Northbridge Class of 1994: Expect Northbridge junior quarterback Matt Phelan -- one of the top passer in Central Mass. -- to take to the air against a 2-8 Uxbridge squad. He’s been a big play threat all season and we envision at least a couple of long scoring plays on Turkey Day. Northbridge, 34-16.
NO. 3 BC HIGH (7-3) AT NO. 5 CATHOLIC MEMORIAL (7-1)
ESPNBoston.com Sales Manager J.J. Alberts, BC High Class of 1989: This battle for the Catholic Conference Championship will be a defensive grudge match with BC High wrapping up the game in the fourth quarter on a defensive score. BC High, 21-7.
STONEHAM (2-8) AT READING (7-3)
ESPN Football Recruiting Coordinator, Billy Tucker, Reading Class of 1993: The Rockets like the new playoff format in the Middlesex League. Due to splitting the league, the Rockets cruised through the large tier, but did lose to small school Melrose, which is in third place in the smaller tier. John Fiore won’t allow a letdown to Stoneham, though. The Spartans have been given an overall face lift by head coach Dave Pignone and are playing hard, but the Rockets will soar to victory in one of the longest Turkey Day rivalries in the state. Congrats to legendary Rockets coach Tom Kasprzak on his recent induction (Nov. 19th) into the Reading High School Hall of Fame. Reading, 21-7.
WESTWOOD (8-2) AT NO. 21 HOLLISTON (8-1)
ESPNBoston correspondent Matt Noonan, Westwood Class of 2006: The story of the Westwood High School football team has been a great one this season. However, against the defending Division 3A Super Bowl champion Holliston Panthers, I expect the Wolverines to struggle. Although no matter the outcome of this game, I think it's fair to state that the Wolverines certainly exceeded expectations, and made the last few months rather enjoyable. Holliston, 28-14.