EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Merrimack Valley

November 20, 2012

Andover-Central state's top Thanksgiving Day game

One afternoon this week, Central Catholic football coach Chuck Adamopoulos popped in a special game film for his team to watch.

It was of the “Game for the Ages,” or the “Field Goal or Not,” Thanksgiving game of 1989 between Central and rival Andover High.

“I don’t know why everyone still talks about that game,” said Raider captain Santino Brancato, of Salem, N.H., citing the controversial kick that is still debated now, despite the fact that he wasn’t born when it happened. “That field goal was absolutely good.”

That field goal — good or not by Central’s Glen Lacroix on that frigid November morning — is still, 23 years later, the rallying point for one of the state’s fiercest Turkey Day football rivalries between Central and Andover.

A reported crowd of 8,500 ringed Lawrence’s Veterans Memorial Stadium that Saturday after Thanksgiving, when earlier snow forced the holiday postponement. Tomorrow morning at 10:30, a similar-sized crowd is expected at Andover’s Lovely Field as Central and Andover hook up for the 40th reunion.

With Central, 9-1, and Andover, 9-1, that means the Merrimack Valley Conference champion and a trip to the upcoming Eastern Mass. playoffs are at stake. It is the main event on a holiday flock of main events here in Massachusetts. And it could be an epic.

By Tuesday afternoon, almost 3,000 advance tickets had been sold between the two schools.

“We’re expecting a sensational game out of Central Catholic on Thanksgiving,” said Andover quarterback C.J. Scarpa, the state’s most prolific passer this season with 30 touchdown passes. “As a senior in high school, it’s a dream.You can’t ask for more than facing your greatest rival with a championship on the line.”

Scarpa, following in the footsteps of his dad, Carmen, himself a former Andover QB, understands what history means in this rivalry, which stands at 20 wins for Central, 18 for Andover and 1 tie.

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