GLOUCESTER CITY NJ-How can two and one- half- hours have such an impact on everyone lives. If you're a Lions fans or a Rams fan nothing beats the game held on Thanksgiving. This year unlike many in the past brings together for the last time many local players on both the GCHS and GHS teams.
Rams players Shane Brophy and Sean Gartland will meet the Lions seniors Brandon Blackiston, Dalton Dunn, Nick Russo and lifelong friends, and many other seniors, neighbors and friends for a last time.
In the past few years this was little more than the Lions vs. out-of- towners in a City Series game. This Thursday morning most of these boys will wake-up as a varsity football player for a last time in their young lives, bringing to an end a football career which started innocently enough at five years old on Johnson Blvd.
Artist drawing by Todd Whitten
Not only did these boys join together as Mustang players competing against other towns, but played Little League Baseball and CPBL Basketball against each other. Throughout grammar school each player bonded together in one way or another.
Starting sports at such a young age the end seemed too far to even think about. Not only the players, but parents failed to realize the impact of their son's final football game. Walking of the home field on Thursday is bittersweet affair. GCHS players from out of town cannot truly appreciate this game. These local friends and former little league and football All-Stars will never again meet in such an intense battle and still leave these battles as best friends. They will hit and hit each other hard throughout the day. They will talk on the field as they battle. And it will not be your friendly banter. But to each player the end and affect is different.
Along with a victory is the realization that a career or even a life style has come to an end. Teary eyed players will meet in the end zone after the game giving each player a hug for the last time. These boys battled together for their School while giving their parents and friends something to talk about of which ALL can be proud.
The moments of innocence and High School seem to fly by so fast, but as each player walks through the gauntlet of proud parents and they see the tears in the eyes of the mom and dad it will be hard to ever forget your last time leaving the field.
The score never really matters in the end. It is the friendships that matter. Many parents are friends because their son's sport brought strangers together. Boys went to other boy's birthday parties as they grew.
In years to come it will be nice to read how your school has done, to come back and cheer your team on. The scrapbooks will soon put aside and the only thing that will stay with the parents and players is that last hug.
It is amazing how two and one/half hours spent on the field on Thanksgiving will make everyone realize that regardless of the economy or gas prices we really have something to be thankful for. Family and Friends