The current senior class of the Pennridge football team has been through a lot in their tenure as Rams.
All those trials and tribulations have forged a bond between those seniors that they will have forever, even as they start to separate after this week. But they have one more game together and it’s their game to win or lose.
Thursday, Pennridge’s seniors take the field for the last time in their annual Thanksgiving Day rivalry game against Quakertown.
“Our senior class is especially close,” senior Ryan Cuthbert said. “Having two more weeks to be with these guys every day is special. After this, we won’t be together that same way, so we’re glad to get to spend some extra time with the guys.”
Pennridge’s season came to a tough end in a first round district playoff loss to Neshaminy that would have been the end of the line for most other teams. But the annual Thanksgiving game gave the Rams a few extra weeks as a team.
There’s also motivation for these seniors to perform on Thursday. Quakertown has won the last two Thanksgiving clashes, and three straight over Pennridge going back to a 2014 district playoff game.
“We’re definitely pumped up, we feel like our last game at Neshaminy got taken away from us a little bit so we’re motivated coming off that game,” senior Joe Robinson said. “We’re definitely coming out to get a win and we’re ready.”
Of course, Pennridge isn’t the only team with seniors playing in this game. After making districts the last two years, the Panthers had a rough start to this season, falling to 1-5 and looking like the season was going to slip away.
Then, their seniors banded together and got things turned around. Since then, Quakertown has won five straight games and enters the annual showdown with plenty of momentum.
“For these seniors, this is their last game playing on this field,” Quakertown coach George Banas said. “This is the last memory that they’re going away with, so that plays into the psyche of the game a little bit.
“I’m proud of these seniors for not letting it go in the wrong direction and them showing the way how to turn things around for these underclassmen. I’m really proud of this class.”
Monday night at Pennridge, the Rams practiced under frigid winds, the first of their last week of practices together. As the linemen and linebackers grouped up to start some work, an assistant coach told the assembled group that Thursday was a game for the seniors.
“It’s going to come down to the seniors,” Rams lineman Tom Koch said. “You know that you have each other’s back and you just have to trust the guys next to you.”
Pennridge has 23 seniors listed on its roster while Quakertown’s roster names 24 seniors, so there will be plenty of fourth-year players on either side looking to make their last mark on the rivalry. Cuthbert said he’s always going to remember the bond he has with his classmates, built through the years of rising up through the ranks and how they will all end their careers together.
“Every year heading into the game, you’d hear guys saying to appreciate it and the time will go quickly,” Cuthbert said. “Now I’m in the position to tell the younger guys to appreciate their last year and it will end faster than they think.”