Algonquin and Westborough provide normalcy for athletes with Thanksgiving game

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Photo by/Jeff Slovin
Algonquin players celebrate with the trophy after winning the annual Thanksgiving matchup over Westborough

By Chris Wilson, Contributing Writer

NORTHBOROUGH – The Algonquin and Westborough football teams got to play a rivalry matchup they weren’t sure would happen this year on April 22.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the teams could not play their traditional Thanksgiving rivalry game last November. 

When the football season then got pushed back to this March, the teams were in opposite pods. That meant they did not face each other during their regular season.

But both schools kept Week Six of their schedules open in case one of the teams in their pod had to cancel a game due to coronavirus protocols.

Thankfully for Algonquin and Westborough that didn’t happen, opening up this opportunity for both schools to continue their rivalry with a special “Thanksgiving in April” game.

“As the season progressed…[Westborough High School Athletic Director] Johanna DiCarlo and I came up with the idea of playing each other during the last week,” Algonquin Director of Athletics Mike Mocerino told the Community Advocate.

They indeed tentatively earmarked Week Six for a rivalry meeting early in the season.

But the chance to continue the tradition was not a guarantee as COVID-19 could have altered plans at any moment. If Westborough, Algonquin or any of their opponents ran into issues with the virus, forcing a postponed regular season game, this game would not have taken place. 

“Every day we played or practiced in the season was a small miracle,” DiCarlo said. “…We never knew what each day would hold for us.”

The Rangers/Tomahawks rivalry game would not be announced until April 15. 

That was a calculated choice, according to Mocerino.

“We waited to announce the match-up until we knew that we both had this week open to schedule the game,” he said.

Ultimately, Mocerino and DiCarlo noted the game was a win for both teams. 

“Providing this opportunity for all the student-athletes involved represents some sort of normalcy for students,” Mocerino said.

DiCarlo expanded on the importance of the game. 

“We always love competing against Algonquin,” she said. “So, the fact that we can get this game in for the kids and the communities is special.”

In the game itself, both defenses stood tall out of the gate. 

Algonquin scored though in the second quarter. It then traded touchdowns with the Rangers in the third quarter, before then dominating the fourth quarter by a score of 16-7. 

The Tomahawks won the game 30-14. This first win of the season was also the first win of Coach Mark Allen’s head coaching career in town. 

“Great game, and great win for our team,” the official Algonquin football Twitter account posted following the victory.

Only family members of players as well as members of the press were allowed to attend the game. The game was livestreamed, however, with commentary from Andrew and Ken Roberts and can be viewed in full by clicking here