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Norristown, Upper Merion ready for rivalry’s possible last Thanksgiving game

Norristown quarterback Izaiah Webb gets off a pass before he is hit by Upper Merion's Kevin Jainlett during their game on Saturday, Oct. 28, 2017. (Bob Raines/Digital First Media)

UPPER MERION >> There’s a concert film showing on cable these days called, “The End of The End,” detailing the final concert played by the old rock band Black Sabbath.

It could also suit this Thanksgiving morning’s meeting between Upper Merion and Norristown, being billed as the final time these two programs will play each other pre-Thanksgiving feast.

At one time, these two proud programs were the only game in town when it came to a Turkey Day pigskin show.

The Eagles and Vikings (once known as the Spartans) have been going at it since 1942, so the two schools know a thing or two about playing a hated rival.

As for strategies, both coaches said they cut down on practice time, gave their players as much time off as possible and are hoping the time off will result in a contest that’s worthy of being the Thanksgiving Day swan song.

“We gave our kids off most of the week,” said Upper Merion head coach Victor Brown, experiencing his first taste of Vikings-Eagles Turkey Day football. “Most of the time we gave them three-day weeks so they could be high school kids and do things with their friends on the weekends.”

Upper Merion’s Mike Zelli pulls away from Norristown’s Boubacar Diawara during their game on Saturday, Oct. 28, 2017. (Bob Raines/Digital First Media)

At Norristown, Eagles head coach Jason Powel took a similar approach.

“You have to cut down on practice time,” Powel said. “You just can’t have your players show up every day with little to do but run the same plays over and over.

“We tried to make things fun for the kids.”

As for strategies, look for the Vikings to spruce things up.

At a recent practice the Vikings seemed to be running a lot of sprint out and option looks, a sure sign the team doesn’t feel it can handle the Eagles in the trenches.

“Our game is a speed game,” Brown said. “We want to get the ball outside and allow our guys the opportunity to run as much as possible.”

Norristown’s Zahir Haynes tries to get around Upper Merion’s Ty Lobban during their game on Saturday, Oct. 28, 2017. (Bob Raines/Digital First Media)

As for the Eagles, they’ll rise or fall behind the arm of quarterback Izaiah Webb and the running talents of Kirk Wilson.

Upper Merion will ride the rushing talents of David Brown.

As for the result, both coaches believe their respective teams will prevail.

“We’ll see,” said Brown, “but I think we have our guys prepared pretty well.

“I’d hate to see all of this preparation time go to waste.”

“I want to see this group go out as winners,” Powel said. “They’ve done all we’ve asked of them all season and I’d like to see that pay off with a win.”

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