Key Players to Watch in the Quincy-North Quincy Thanksgiving Football Game

QUINCY — Thanksgiving Day is primarily a time for family, friends, food… and football.

And for the city’s rivalry between Quincy High and North Quincy High, the Thanksgiving Day showdown (10 a.m. at Veterans Stadium) means next year’s bragging rights for whoever wins.

“This time of year you wear either blue and white (Quincy) or red and black (NQ),” Quincy head coach Kevin Carey said.

With the Raiders and Presidents out of the playoffs, this isn’t just the last game of the season, but also the biggest.

After:Silent Fire Inside Gabe Rodrigues Leads Quincy High Football Team to 2-0 Start

“Obviously it doesn’t get better than that,” Carey said. “Obviously everyone has goals to go beyond Thanksgiving. It’s tough, after this weekend there are only 16 teams left playing after Thanksgiving for a state championship.

Quincy (5-4) had a number of ups and downs as a 3-0 start gave way to a three-game losing streak. Still, the Presidents have won two of their last three and will be looking for a big game from junior running back Gabe Rodrigues, who surpassed the 1,000 rushing yard mark for the season in a 35-20 victory over Framingham in his last time. out.

Quincy High running back Gabe Rodrigues, a junior who plays both RB and LB.  He scored three times in last week's game against Archbishop Williams.  Wednesday, September 14, 2022.

“He’s just a workhorse,” Carey said. “He does a lot on both sides of football so I’m sure (North Quincy) will focus on him.”

For Rodrigues, he wants a big game to start his season in the right direction.

“It’s probably the high point of the season,” Rodrigues said of the Thanksgiving feud, which dates back to 1933. “Everyone comes (to watch). I’m going to miss my seniors.

The offense doesn’t stop there for Quincy, as the Presidents have several quality receivers and a senior-laden offensive line that plays with a lot of confidence.

“Jacey Ham has had a great season as a wide receiver,” Carey said. “Ruben Charles also on the other side. So we had a double threat there.”

Quincy's Jacey Ham steps onto the court after making the catch during first quarter action of their game against Hanover at Veterans Memorial Stadium in Quincy on Friday, October 7, 2022.

Ham, a senior captain, wants to create a legacy of this Thanksgiving game.

“Biggest game of the year, I’m trying to get through it,” Ham said. “For the fans and the town of Quincy, for the reputation, I want to be known forever.”

Quincy senior captain Stephen Gallant also returns kickoffs and can have a huge impact in terms of position on the pitch.

“Stephen Gallant had a good year for us on special teams, setting us up, taking 35-40 yard returns,” Carey said. “A few times he broke it.”

Quincy leads the all-time holiday streak, 48-35-5 or 48-36-5, if you count the “2020 Thanksgiving game” which was actually played in the spring of 2021 due to the pandemic. For motivational purposes, Quincy is counting that one, which North Quincy won, 21-0. The Raiders won again last year, this time at Thanksgiving, 15-12.

“Our school needs it. We’ve lost two years in a row,” Quincy senior captain Luke Murphy said. “It’s special to come out with a win. Losing him would suck, but I’m confident.

Left to right, Quincy's Luke Murphy and Andrew Novak celebrate at the end of their match against Oliver Ames on Friday, September 16, 2022.

Last year’s game went to the wire as North Quincy went down 12-0 in the second half. Nate Caldwell caught a 10-yard touchdown pass from Cooper Hansen on fourth down with 1:22 left for the go-ahead score. Caldwell then ran into the 2-point conversion, capping a game-winning drive from 96 yards.

The Raiders (3-6) are hoping for another big game from Caldwell.

“Nate, obviously,” NQ senior Brian Nguyen said when asked about potential Raiders heroes this year. “Caught a game-winning touchdown last year. I know (Quincy) is planning a game for him. He’s a beast.

“Nate Caldwell is an exceptional player,” acknowledged NQ coach Ryan Craig. “MVP caliber player. He made the game’s biggest catch in last year’s Thanksgiving game. We are looking for the same thing.

As for Caldwell, who is a senior, he is just having fun playing with his teammates and finishing his high school football career.

North Quincy's Nate Caldwell, left, takes down Malden Catholic's Marcus Rojas, center, during high school football action at Veterans Memorial Stadium in Quincy on Friday, Sept. 23, 2022.

“It didn’t go as well as I would have liked, but it’s been a fun season,” Caldwell said. “We had a great time here with the North Quincy Raiders. Ongoing.”

Caldwell also thinks another enlargement can make the difference on Thursday.

“I think Will Conley can have a big game,” Caldwell said. “He didn’t start at the start of the season, but he played a bigger role as the season progressed.”

North Quincy also has two different quarterbacks that could cause Quincy problems.

“We have a quarterback situation where we have Charlie Baker, our starting quarterback, he’s a junior,” Craig said. “(He) played really well for us, but got hurt and bounced back. He’s athletic, smart, with a strong arm. We also have (sophomore) Mike Galligan, who’s our backup quarterback. have a 1-2 punch.

North Quincy quarterback Mike Galligan looks for a pass as teammates block Malden Catholic defenders during high school football action at Veterans Memorial Stadium in Quincy on Friday, Sept. 23, 2022.

But none of those players could score without the guys in the trenches – Dylan Clifford, Matt Whooley, Tom Cail, Robert Walinjom, Grant Murphy and Jefferson Laurette, all seniors.

“All the (offensive) line, I salute them all,” Caldwell said. “Without them, nothing happens and we run nothing. So big congratulations to them. I hope they can do their job. »

“Dylan Clifford plays offensive tackle and defensive end,” Craig said. “He’s an experienced player, our best offensive and defensive lineman. He is a real leader in our team.

Murphy, who plays tight end and defensive end, also received praise from his head coach.

“He’s one of our captains,” Craig said. “Grant has been playing varsity for us for three years. He’s a guy leading by example. Huge upside on the offensive end.

Tight end Grant Murphy.  The North Quincy Red Raiders football team practice at Cavanaugh Ground on Monday August 22, 2022.

If North Quincy wants to continue their winning streak over the holidays, the Raiders will need to get past a Quincy side that feels like it’s playing some of its best balls of the season. Since that three-game slide – against Hannover, Plymouth South and Scituate in the playoffs – the Presidents have responded with wins over Pembroke and Framingham sandwiched around a narrow 23-20 loss to Needham.

“Honestly, teamwork really makes the dream work,” Quincy senior quarterback Andrew Novak said. “In years past, when we were losing, we would separate, point fingers and accuse each other. It sucked, honestly. This year we stayed together (in the losing streak), came back and won tough games that people thought we wouldn’t win.

“It’s kind of our Super Bowl,” Carey said of Thanksgiving. “These kids all know each other. These guys play together on the same club teams (in different sports). It really is a great tradition.

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