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Turkey Bowl rivalry games have become almost as much of a part of Thanksgiving as turkey itself, and the tradition took root in Philadelphia.

The first organized Thanksgiving football game took place in Germantown in 1869 just six years after the holiday began and shortly after the game of football was invented.

Over a century and half later, the Philadelphia area has more than its fair share of Thanksgiving rivalries.

While all the national attention might go to the NFL triple-header and the annual college rivalries over the weekend, Philadelphians treat themselves to a Turkey Bowl tradition that can’t be replicated in any other city.

  • Northeast High vs. Central High

    Northeast High and Central High have clashed in their annual Thanksgiving rivalry an incredible 125 times. Only two Thanksgivings on record (1918, 2020) since 1896 have passed without the classic rivalry.

    The Northeast Vikings and the Central Lancers will compete on Thursday morning for the 126th time with the Wooden Horse trophy on the line.

    There’s nothing like a neighborhood gathering in the Northeast with cold beers and some old school trash talk.

  • Father Judge vs. Lincoln High

    Most of the college football Thanksgiving rivalries feature two teams from the same state (or in close proximity) battling in a non-conference game. Clemson-South Carolina, Ole Miss-Mississippi State, and Florida-Florida State will all clash over the holiday weekend with local bragging rights between the universities and their fans on the line.

    Father Judge and Lincoln High School sit just a mile away from each other in Northeast Philly. The Catholic school students and the public school students have decided those bragging rights since 1975 with the only break coming in 2020.

    Judge has owned the rivalry with a 42-3-1 record.

  • The Philadelphia Catholic League

    Philadelphia Catholic League Football is a timeless local tradition itself. While the rivalry games aren’t as long running, the major programs have their fair share of Turkey Bowl memories.

    St. Joe’s Prep and LaSalle met 29 times from 1976-2005, sparking one of the best overall local rivalries. SJP also faced Malvern Prep at Villanova University seven times from 2007-2013. Cardinal O’Hara, Monsignor Bonner, and Archbishop Carroll also have history against the Inter-Ac powerhouse Malvern.

    Neumann-Goretti and Southern High will also meet on Thursday in a neighborhood rivalry in South Philly dating all the way back to 1934. The game returned in 2021 after five years off.

  • Ridley High vs. Interboro High

    What would a local tradition be without Delco getting involved? Morning Show executive producer Casey Boy, the unofficial mayor of Delco, remembers looking forward to the Turkey Bowl every Thanksgiving.

    “When I was growing up, it was such a treat to go to the annual Turkey Bowl game between Ridley High School vs. Interboro High School! As a kid, going to see Pat Randolph and the Raiders play was JUST like going to see Mike Quick and the Eagles play. The games would change locations each year, and I always LOVED going to Phil Marion Field, Home of the Ridley Raiders!”

  • Grade School CYO and Delco Traditions

    Financial difficulties in local Catholic schools have unfortunately wiped out some of the best Delco clashes like St. Dot’s versus St. Bernadette’s in the bitter Drexel Hill clash.

    Casey Boy recalled his CYO days with the old Our Lady of Fatima football team.

    “The first year I didn’t make it to the Ridley-Interboro Turkey Bowl was 1988.  That was the first and only time I played in a Turkey Bowl as a member of the Our Lady of Fatima Falcons varsity team.  I don’t remember much about the game except that there were more people at that game than any other game that season!  Turkey Bowls are a great time for alumni to gather with family & friends for a casual reunion.”