Bedford Visits Burlington in Renewed Holiday Football Rivalry

November 22, 2023
In a battle of BHS, Bedford High School and Burlington High School face off at 10 am on Thanksgiving morning at Burlington High School home field on Cambridge Street. Staff Photo

The Bedford High School Buccaneers and the Burlington High School Red Devils converge Thursday morning for the third annual round of their reconstituted Thanksgiving football rivalry.

Kickoff is scheduled for 10 a.m. at Burlington’s Varsity Field on Cambridge Street.

The original matchup began in 1961 and ended in 1972. During that time, the two teams split 12 games. Since the clash returned in 2021, the Bucs lead 2-0, winning by a combined margin of 70 points.

That trend is highly unlikely this year. Both teams are 6-4, and on paper, this match is shaping up to be competitive, with a lot of firepower.

BHS Head Coach Tom Tone respects what the Devils have done. 

“They’re really good in all three phases of the game,” he said. “They’re an explosive team on offense and good at stopping the run. They’ve got a lot of talent.”

Bedford and Burlington both qualified for the MIAA Division 4 playoffs. The Bucs lost in the opening round to top-seeded Duxbury. Burlington won its opener and was on the threshold of tying Tewksbury Memorial in the quarterfinals when a lost fumble ended that hope.

Senior Joey Poland, the Middlesex League Player-of-the-Year, is Burlington’s biggest threat. The running back has rushed for more than 1,500 yards and scored 19 touchdowns, with 135 tackles from his linebacker position.

Quarterback Anthony Gerrior, a junior, has “a bunch of good receivers,” Tone said, including sophomore Ryan Brooks and junior Charlie Hanafin.

The Bucs have been a balanced offense all season. Four ball-carriers – Ricky LaBoy, Drew Siwik, Gil Galman, and quarterback Ryan McGrath – have combined for 1,550 running yards. McGrath has completed 62 percent of his pass attempts for 1,385 yards to eight different receivers, led by Xavier Ruiz (24), LaBoy (22), Mekhi Volcy (22), and Nelson Crawford (21).

LaBoy, a senior, is also the defensive statistical leader with 33 unassisted tackles and four interceptions. Mason Wiggins, Shamus Miller, Chase Brazee, Siwik, and Crawford are the other tackling leaders. Miller has racked up two forced fumbles.

Tone said the team is “as healthy as we’ve been in a long time. Everybody is ready to go.” He added that the players and coaches were encouraged by the junior varsity’s 22-0 triumph over the Red Devils on Saturday.

The two teams should be familiar with each other, thanks to 11 days of preparation time and the amount of video recording available. 

“You go into the game assuming the other team will be prepared,” Tone said.

The coach added that he hopes that through the passage of time, the renewed Thanksgiving rivalry will become meaningful to more people. Several football alumni visited the team at practice this week, he noted.

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