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For first time since 1925, Haverford-Upper Darby won’t happen on Turkey Day

Then Upper Darby football coach Rich Gentile and Haverford coach Joe Gallagher share a booth at the Perkins on Lansdowne Ave. before the 2017 game. The coaches and their staffs meet every year at the restaurant for breakfast hours before their Thanksgiving Day football clash, one of many layers of tradition to the annual encounter. (Digital First Media/Pete Bannan)

The 99th edition of the Haverford-Upper Darby football rivalry will have to wait until next Thanksgiving.

Upper Darby confirmed Friday that the game will not be held, the first time since 1925 that the teams will not play on Thanksgiving.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted many aspects of our daily lives and forced us to reconsider various time-honored traditions,” Upper Darby’s statement read. “The annual Haverford vs. Upper Darby Thanksgiving football game is one of the County’s most beloved traditions, and it serves as a wonderful opportunity for both school communities, student athletes, alumni and families to come together for this annual tradition. Unfortunately, increasing COVID-19 positivity and community transmission rate require that we revisit our COVID-response plan to ensure the health and safety of our student athletes, coaches and staff, and spectators.”

The series began in 1921, with Haverford holding a 49-43-6 edge, including 10 straight Thanksgiving wins. The only instance in which the game was not played was 1925.

The teams did play on the opening weekend this year, a 40-0 Haverford win Oct. 23. The Central League plans to play playoff games next week. Upper Darby, which finished fourth in the Class 6A division, will play the corresponding team in 5A, Penncrest, on Wednesday. Haverford finished second in 6A and will take on Strath Haven at a date and time TBD.

Two Fords coaches, including head coach Joe Gallagher, were absent from Friday’s game against Garnet Valley while observing COVID-19 protocols over a possible exposure.

Two other longtime Thanksgiving rivalries, Chichester-Sun Valley and Ridley-Interboro also aren’t being played since Del Val League teams Chi and Interboro aren’t expected to play their postponed seasons until the spring.

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