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Bristol, Morrisville football prepare for 2017 Thanksgiving Day clash

Bristol's Eric Bell (20) is brought down by Morrisville's Domierre White (9) in 2016 battle between the Bulldogs and Warriors. (John Gleeson – 21st-Century Media)

BRISTOL – Morrisville posted four wins this year, twice as many as the Bulldogs registered last season. But Bristol recorded twice as many wins as Morrisville and made its way to the postseason while the Bulldogs failed to make the playoffs.

All that gets thrown out the window, however, in the annual Thanksgiving Day rivalry between the teams, one of the oldest Turkey Day rivalries in Pennsylvania, taking place this year on the Warriors’ home field.

After falling to West Catholic in the District 1/12 Class AA sub-regional semifinal, the Warriors have been quietly preparing for the upcoming gridiron duel on Wilson Avenue.

“No one from Bristol says anything; we already know what we’re capable of,” said Warriors quarterback Samir Brisbon.

“Every year, it’s always Morrisville talking. They always say they have something for us but we’ve never really seen anything that we couldn’t handle as a team.”

Still. Despite coming into the 2016 battle with just two wins, Morrisville made a game of it last year with quarterback Felix Feliciano tossing three touchdown passes in the game including a 23-yard TD strike to Zeke Kershaw in the fourth quarter that drew the ‘Dawgs within eight points – 32-24.

A late game interception by Brisbon, however, kept the score right there, enabling the Warriors to keep their win string going.

“We had a few bumps at the start of the game,” admitted Brisbon. “No one was getting into the game because we were still stuck on losing by one point in the playoffs to Valley Forge.”

Morrisville’s Zeek Kershaw (7), right, avoids Lucas Bogarde’s (45) tackle in 2016 battle between the Bulldogs and Warriors. (John Gleeson – 21st-Century Media)

Morrisville last won the Thanksgiving battle against Bristol in 1998 – by a 19-2 score. The Warriors have won the 15 duels that have taken place since including last year’s triumph (there’s been three forfeits since 2001). Bristol leads the series 50-34-2.

The Warriors come to the table with a Thunder ‘n Lightning rushing attack that features seniors Eric Bell and Deshawyn Cortez. A three-year starter, Bell is a seasoned veteran who relies on his speed to get to the edge. Closing in on his third-consecutive 1,000-yard rushing season, he needs 220 yards on Thanksgiving to get there.

Primarily a basketball player before this fall, Cortez is more of a bull-rusher. He used that strength to lead the Warriors to wins over Palumbo and Jenkintown, against whom he netted over 170 rushing yards and three touchdowns on just four carries.

The Bulldogs feature a three-pronged attack that includes Feliciano (358 yds./61 carries) along with seniors Amir Pack (427/67) and Isaiah McDavidson, who leads all rushers for his team in both yards (613) and carries (121).

Both teams came back strong in 2017 after sub-par seasons the year before. After an early-season loss to New Hope-Solebury, Bristol bounced back with six straight wins including four consecutive against Bicentennial Athletic League (BAL) foes. Morrisville, after a 3-1 start, has lost five of its last six including midseason battles with BAL rivals Lower Moreland and Jenkintown.

But a Bulldogs win on Thanksgiving would do wonders for Morrisville’s morale.

“This is the biggest rivalry around,” said Pack “Our season would be a big success if we beat Bristol.

“We’re going to try to do something that hasn’t been done in awhile.”

When the Bulldogs began their season with wins over BAL rivals Valley Forge and DelCo Christian, some onlookers started thinking Morrisville might make the postseason for the first time in many years. The proposed district playoff berth unraveled however in losses to league rivals Lower Moreland and Jenkintown.

A late September loss to Lower Moreland hurt the most where the Bulldogs hurt their own cause with over 100 yards in penalties.

“We had a complete meltdown in the second half against Lower Moreland,” admitted Morrisville head coach Derrick Savage, “That was the difference between making the playoffs and not making it. If we win that one, we’re 4-1 and really in the driver’s seat in Single-A.”

Ahead 7-6 at halftime, the Bulldogs saw the game slip away on a fourth-quarter TD run by Matthew Stefurak. With a chance to win after driving to the six-yard line, Feliciano’s pass to Maleek Crooks fell incomplete with three seconds left.

“We progressed a lot this year; getting to four wins was huge,” said Savage. “Beating DelCo was a big measuring stick for us.

“But we still have to learn how to win games when things don’t go our way.”

If Morrisville is going to stand a chance in this game, it is going to have to win the battle up front. Standing in the way is a stout offensive line for the Warriors that includes first team all-BAL center Danny Collins along with guards Leon Newkirk and Tommy Wallick along with tackles Xavier Corbin and John Burnett.

On the other side of the ball, junior Chuckie Collins and brother Danny are the interior linemen with Corbin and Wallick flanking the Collins’ boys on the outside.

The Bulldogs’ O-line is led by seniors Breon Hines, Luis Colon and Givenson Charles along with sophomores Adam Schenk and Brian Strother, a 6-foot, 190-pounder who garnered all-BAL honors last season.

Hines also leads the D-line back onto the field at Morrisville, with help from Strother, junior Aidan Newill, and classmate Chandler Rich, a senior who did not play last season.

BRISTOL/MORRISVILLE THANKSGIVING DAY SERIES
(Bristol leads series, 50-34-2)
1928 – Bristol 6, Morrisville 0
1929 – Bristol 6, Morrisville 0
1930 – Bristol 32, Morrisville 2
1931 – Bristol 19, Morrisville 6
1932 – Bristol 13, Morrisville 6
1933 – Bristol 6, Morrisville 0
1934 – Bristol 7, Morrisville 0
1935 – Bristol 20, Morrisville 0
1936 – Bristol 7, Morrisville 0
1937 – Morrisville 26, Bristol 6
1938 – Morrisville 8, Bristol 7
1939 – Bristol 12, Morrisville 0
1940 – Bristol 6, Morrisville 6
1941 – Bristol 13, Morrisville 6
1942 – Morrisville 13, Bristol 0
1943 – Morrisville 20, Bristol 0
1944 – Bristol 7, Morrisville 0
1945 – Bristol 14, Morrisville 7
1946 – Bristol 14, Morrisville 0
1947 – Morrisville 12, Bristol 0
1948 – Bristol 32, Morrisville 13
1949 – Morrisville 33, Bristol 6
1950 – Bristol 14, Morrisville 14 (tie)
1951 – Bristol 19, Morrisville 13
1952 – Morrisville 20, Bristol 19
1953 – Bristol 7, Morrisville 0
1954 – Morrisville 25, Bristol 0
1955 – Bristol 7, Morrisville 7 (tie)
1956 – Morrisville 14, Bristol 0
1957 – Morrisville 28, Bristol 0
1958 – Morrisville 38, Bristol 7
1959 – Morrisville 14, Bristol 6
1960 – Morrisville 40, Bristol 6
1961 – Morrisville 7, Bristol 6
1962 – Bristol 12, Morrisville 0
1963 – Morrisville 7, Bristol 0
1964 – Bristol 19, Morrisville 18
1965 – Bristol 35, Morrisville 12
1966 – Bristol 41, Morrisville 0
1967 – Bristol 46, Morrisville 13
1968 – Bristol 43, Morrisville 7
1969 – Morrisville 41, Bristol 6
1970 – Morrisville 26, Bristol 14
1971 – Morrisville 30, Bristol 0
1972 – Morrisville 18, Bristol 8
1973 – Morrisville 6, Bristol 0
1974 – Morrisville 20, Bristol 12
1975 – Bristol 9, Morrisville 0
1976 – Morrisville 26, Bristol 0
1977 – Morrisville 20, Bristol 0
1978 – Morrisville 32, Bristol 14
1979 – Morrisville 22, Bristol 7
1980 – Bristol 26, Morrisville 0
1981 – Morrisville 32, Bristol 14
1982 – Bristol 31, Morrisville 22
1983 – Bristol 21, Morrisville 8
1984 – Morrisville 33, Bristol 6
1985 – Morrisville 10, Bristol 6
1986 – Bristol 12, Morrisville 0
1987 – Morrisville 7, Bristol 6
1988 – Bristol 18, Morrisville 6
1989 – Morrisville 41, Bristol 8
1990 – Bristol 35, Morrisville 6
1991 – Morrisville 23, Bristol 7
1992 – Morrisville 14, Bristol 0
1993 – Bristol 34, Morrisville 8
1994 – Bristol 31, Morrisville 14
1995 – Bristol 21, Morrisville 0
1996 – Bristol 34, Morrisville 18
1997 – Morrisville 20, Bristol 18
1998 – Morrisville 19, Bristol 2
1999 – Bristol 41, Morrisville 0
2000 – Bristol 57, Morrisville 16
2001 – Bristol 2, Morrisville 0 (fft.)
2002 – Bristol 39, Morrisville 0
2003 – Bristol 49, Morrisville 12
2004 – Bristol 38, Morrisville 6
2005 – Bristol 21, Morrisville 0
2006 – Bristol 14, Morrisville 0
2007 – Bristol 28, Morrisville 0
2008 – Bristol 44, Morrisville 7
2009 – Bristol 55, Morrisville 20
2010 – Bristol 48, Morrisville 27
2011 – Bristol 40, Morrisville 0
2012 – Morrisville 2, Bristol 0 (fft.)
2013 – Bristol 2, Morrisville 0 (fft.)
2014 – Bristol 53, Morrisville 6
2015 – Bristol 38, Morrisville 0
2016 – Bristol 32, Morrisville 24

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