Chicopee high schools face-off in traditional Thanksgiving football game

CHICOPEE, Mass. (WGGB/WSHM) – Like any ordinary Thanksgiving, there is the tradition of watching or playing football. Thursday, the two Chicopee high schools faced off as part of an annual holiday tradition.

Before the Thanksgiving NFL games, there was business to be taken care of at Chicopee Comp High School.

Both the Chicopee High Pacers and the Chicopee Comp Colts were all hyped up this Thanksgiving Day as the annual rivalry, known as the Sword game, was on full display. Dozens of students and alumni got together Thursday morning to watch a game that has taken place since 1964.

“We used to play for the Sword in the regular season. For the last five years, we have played on Thanksgiving, and I think it takes a little added meaning to play on Thanksgiving for the sword,” said Graham Raymond, head Coach for Chicopee Comp.

While the Colts were looking to continue their dominance in this rivalry, the Pacers were looking to win the mayor’s Sword for the first time since 2012. Chicopee High senior, center Jahiem Thompson played in his third and final Sword game.

They call it a special event from everyone in the city.

“Everybody comes out. It’s like a big thing around this town. Everyone comes before they eat good later on at night. It’s been around since my Coach was born. I know it’s special, so I just give it my all,” he said.

The Winner of the game receives an 1890’s Sword presented by the city’s mayor. Thompson also called this game the Super Bowl of Chicopee. And the students and alumni who filled the stands made that feeling a reality. One spectator, Heather Johnson, watched her son, Noah, a freshman at Chicopee Comp, play in his first Sword game. She also acknowledged her other son, Trevor, was a quarterback at Chicopee Comp several years ago. She humorously gave this warning for Noah before kickoff.

“I told him he better keep the Sword or Thanksgiving dinner is going to be rough for him…It’s the most exciting thing. I am the epitome of football mom. The things I say aren’t always the most appropriate, so I’m doing my best here. But, I am my son’s number one fan, and I love all of these boys. I cheer for every number on the team.”

While this was the last game of the season for both programs, it was also a holiday. Pacers head Coach Alex Efstratios says this game has a different meaning when played on Thanksgiving, He wanted his players to give everything they had regardless of who won.

“As long as your playing hard and you give it 100% effort, both coaches are going to be fine with it. I’ll be fine with it. And i just want the kids to…Play hard and come out of this knowing they give it 100%, and whatever happens happens,” he said.

No matter who wins or loses, players and coaches have a lot to be thankful for.

“I’m grateful for my mom, my family, my siblings, my coaches, my friends and especially my teammates. They always got me and made sure I’m on the right path,” Thompson said.

“I’m just thankful that (my players) show up and they give their best effort and they’re trying to grow as players, but also as people,” Raymond said.

While city bragging rights were on the line, every player, Coach and Spectator was happy to celebrate Thanksgiving and the sport that they love together. Chicopee Comp gets to keep the Sword for another year with a final score of 28-10.

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