A year ago, an old tradition became new again.
Concord-Carlisle and Lexington have played football every year since 1924.
Until 1972, they played on Thanksgiving Day. When the teams changed leagues in 1973, they kept playing, but earlier in the season.
Last year, Bedford, C-C’s Thanksgiving rival since 1973, decided to seek another Turkey Day opponent and eventually decided on Burlington, its rival before 1973.
That, in turn, freed up C-C and Lexington, Burlington’s previous Thanksgiving rival, to move their game to Thanksgiving. The Patriots won last year’s game, 35-6 to take a 50-42-7 lead in the all-time series and 27-18-4 lead on Thanksgiving.
On Thursday, they played again at Dr. Harold Crumb Field in Lexington (10 a.m.). “It’s been great learning more about the history of the series,” said C-C head coach Josh Reed, who is in his third year in charge of the Patriots. “Shane Wilson, Lexington’s head coach, was on the staff here at C-C when I was in my first year as an assistant coach and it will be great seeing him again.” C-C takes a 5-5 overall record into the Thanksgiving Day game. The Patriots finished the regular season at 5-3. They qualified for the MIAA Division 2 state playoffs and lost to top-seeded Milford, 42-13. The following week, in a non-playoff game, C-C lost to Woburn, 28-14.
“I’m really proud of the work level, the effortandthecompetitivelevelofthisteam,” Reed said. “We lost some close games to Bedford and Westford Academy. We could have gone in another direction, but the kids came together as a team and decided to get better. We had a goal of making the playoffs and we did.”
The Patriots also posted victories over Lincoln-Sudbury, 35-20, and Acton- Boxborough, 41-35. L-S and A-B had been the two most dominant teams in the Dual County League over the last two decades. The win against A-B was the Patriots’ second in a row and the first time in recent memory they defeated A-B in back-to-back seasons.
“A-B and L-S are well-coached teams,” Reed said. “”Those wins gave us confidence,”
The team is led by senior tight end and linebacker John Kielar, who made the DCL’s All-League team. Blake Newcomb, a running back, was also All-League. Kevin Wright was the league’s outstanding lineman. Quarterback Holden Miller and Angus Wilson were also All-League.
Brian Jennings, Will Hoover, Noah Getchell, Aidan Tucker and Ryan DeMayo earned league all-star honors.
Lexington, the Patriots’ opponent, was 2-6 in the regular season, defeating Winchester and Arlington. In non-playoff games the Minutemen lost to Lowell and Haverhill.
Reed is not taking anything for granted against the Minutemen.
“They’re well-coached and physical up front,” Reed said. “They run multiple offensive sets. They’re a Division 1 school. They have a good quarterback (Nelson Mendes-Stephen) who has been injured but may be back.”