If Jason Powel is nothing else, he is a realist.
He understands that there won’t be 10,000 people lined up at Norristown High’s football field Thanksgiving morning when Powel’s Eagles football team takes on Upper Merion in what the two schools have intimated is a revival of one of the area’s biggest gridiron rivalries ever.
Norristown and Upper Merion on Thanksgiving morning will never be as big as it was when the two schools began Turkey Day with a bang – in what was usually an incredible football game.
But that doesn’t mean, Powel said, that it has to be just another game.
So in preparing for the game, Powel is doing all he can to promote the game in the community.
Just recently the Eagles players made a tour of the school district, going to as many of the district’s schools as possible, with the Eagles players reading books to the elementary school children.
“We want to get the community involved as much as we can,” Powel said. “We want to get them excited about the game again.”
And Powel said he has been pleasantly surprised that there is some community excitement.
That excitement, Powel admitted, is not always about the upcoming game, but sometimes is in memories of the games of the past.
“Not all of the people I talk to are talking about the game we’re about to play, many of them are talking about the games they saw when they were kids.
“But they’re still talking about the game.”
As for the game itself, Powel said it’s been difficult juggling the schedules of some of the players, who are now transitioning over into the winter season.
That means the team isn’t practicing every day, and isn’t as focused as it might be if the game was part of the week after week routine.
But as Powel said, the team has played as recently as November 11 (a loss to Quakertown) , and with the youngsters far outnumbering the seniors, the team is excited about the present – and the future.
“This year has been delightful as far as working with the kids,” Powel said. “We have 24 sophomores and only 16 seniors, and the kids keep coming to practice.
That may not be the case in the near future. But for now, the Eagles are excited about football.
And Powel is excited about the future.
“We were 0-8 at one point this year, but the team has won two of the last three,” Powel said, “so they’re looking to the future, as we all are.”
And one day, Powel said, the excitement of a Norristown-Upper Merion football game may be because of its playoff implications.
“As a coach, I’d rather be in the playoffs right now,” Powel said. “But that day may come.”
In the meantime, there’s a game to play Thanksgiving morning.
“Can we get that feeling back that there used to be on Thanksgiving morning at Roosevelt Field?” Powel asked. “Probably not. But can we get something new?