Lunenburg, Oakmont Football Teams Will Meet on Thanksgiving
It’s going to feel like the 1970s on Thanksgiving morning for two schools with incredibly long histories together, as Lunenburg and Oakmont Regional will once again tangle on the gridiron for Turkey Day supremacy.
Officials at both schools are expected to officially inform the returning players of the re-forged Thanksgiving rivalry when they return to school on Wednesday after Tuesday’s snowstorm.
This comes as this fall’s high school football schedules were announced Tuesday. The Spartans will play Gardner -- their Thanksgiving rival for the last four-plus decades after Oakmont ended its holiday rivalry with Lunenburg in 1979 -- in the season’s week-one tilt for both schools.
Gardner will now play Quabbin Regional in their Thanksgiving clash; Quabbin had played the Blue Knights for the past four years.
Gardner Athletic Director Dan Forte said Tuesday that he was pleased to retain the Spartans on the schedule.
“These things don’t always work out this way,” Forte said in a text message. “We’re happy to keep Oakmont as our opener.”
As of now, it is unknown when the Route 68 battle between the Panthers and Wildcats would take place, whether it be on Thanksgiving Eve or on Thanksgiving morning; Quabbin and Lunenburg played on Wednesday night, while Gardner-Oakmont was traditionally a Thanksgiving morning tilt.
As for Lunenburg and Oakmont, the day of the game will depend on who is hosting.
“In keeping with the traditions of both schools,” Lunenburg Athletic Director James Bunnell said, “when Oakmont hosts it will be Thursday, and when Lunenburg host it will be Wednesday.
″(The switch) was a joint collaboration of all the schools and where each program currently sits. We all wanted to have meaningful, competitive games, while increasing the likelihood that more fans would attend the games for all schools due to the closer proximity of the games.”
Lunenburg has played on Thanksgiving Eve for nearly a quarter of a century, as the Knights previously played St. Bernard’s on Wednesday night.
All other Thanksgiving matchups -- Fitchburg-Leominster, Ayer Shirley-Littleton, St. Bernard’s-North Middlesex, Monty Tech-Nashoba Tech and Nashoba-Clinton -- remain intact.
Lunenburg will open with Monty Tech before traveling to Gardner, Quabbin, and Bartlett on consecutive weekends. The Knights will then be home to Maynard and Littleton before a trip to West Boylston; Lunenburg will host Clinton in Week Eight.
After the Spartans play Gardner at the new Watkins Field, Oakmont will be at Littleton, home to Auburn, home to Hudson, at Clinton, at Quabbin, before homesteads against Groton-Dunstable and Tyngsboro.
Gardner will be off in week three, before hosting David Prouty. GHS will be at Southbridge, home to Ayer Shirley in week six, at Narragansett, and at Murdock.
St. Bernard’s will open its state Division 8 title defense at the Bernardian Bowl in week one, as the Blue and Gold takes on Murdock. In week two, it’s off to the Hudson Connector to play Assabet Valley.
In week three, St. B’s will host Narragansett Regional before a road trip to West Boylston. St. Bernard’s will be home to Nipmuc Regional in week five before road games at Leicester and Blackstone-Millville.
The Bernardians will host Sutton in week eight.
“With six of our eight games being up divisions, and with seven games against teams that were in the playoffs last year,” Bernardian coach Tom Bingham said, “we’re ready for the challenge.”
The reigning Division 4 state champion, Nashoba Regional, will host Leominster in week three.
“We haven’t played Leominster in a few years, but we’ve had some great games with them in recent years before that,” Nashoba coach Jamie Tucker said Tuesday. “It should be a great game.”
The Chieftains will play host to Grafton in the opening weekend, before traveling down the street to Marlboro for week two. After the tilt with the Blue Devils, Nashoba will play, in order, at North Middlesex, home to Wachusett, at Westboro, home to Fitchburg, and at Shrewsbury.
“Our schedule is a good and tough schedule, a deep Mid-Wach B; Grafton, who’s been a great team in our division, and three Mid-Wach A games against some great programs,” Tucker added.
Leominster, which is currently without a head coach -- Athletic Director Dave Palazzi stepped down as coach after a win this past Thanksgiving -- will travel to Westfield for week one, before hosting Doherty in week two. After the Route 117 battle, LHS is at Wachusett, at Shepherd Hill, then home to Shrewsbury, St. John’s, and Algonquin, in that order.
Fitchburg will travel to West Springfield for week one, before hosting Tantasqua Regional of Sturbridge at historic Crocker Field in week two.
The Red and Gray will be at Wachusett in week three, followed by a trip to Marlboro, home against Algonquin and North Middlesex, at Nashoba, and home to Westboro in week eight.
North Middlesex’s schedule is as follows: vs. Wachusett, at Groton-Dunstable, at Shepherd Hill, vs. Nashoba, vs. Westboro, at Fitchburg, vs. Hudson, at Marlboro.
Monty Tech’s schedule is as follows: at Lunenburg, at Ayer Shirley, vs. Assabet, vs. Bay Path, at Blackstone Valley Tech, at Worcester Tech vs. Murdock, vs. Abby Kelley Foster.
Ayer Shirley’s schedule is as follows: at Quabbin, host Monty Tech, at Clinton, vs. Murdock, BYE, at Gardner, vs. Abby Kelley Foster, vs. Narragansett.