Melrose and Wakefield will face off at home on Nov. 23

Published in the November 17, 2017 edition

THE 2017 undefeated Melrose High School Red Raider football team will host Wakefield on Thanksgiving on Nov. 23 at 10:15 at Fred Green Field. (Terry Bleiler photo)


MELROSE—The 58th Melrose-Wakefield Thanksgiving Classic takes place next Thursday, Nov. 23 at 10:15 a.m. at Fred Green Memorial Field in Melrose. The meeting is the 107th clash between the two teams in a rivalry that dates back to 1901. 

Overall, Melrose leads that series 59-41-6. In 1960 the two teams transitioned their annual contest into the Thanksgiving Classic, making this year their 58th meeting on the holiday. Melrose has dominated recent competition (seven straight wins) while Wakefield holds the edge since 1960 with a record of 29-24-3.

At press time, Melrose is one game away from a Super Bowl bid, and scheduled to fight in the State Semifinals against Hopkinton on Sat., Nov. 18 at 2:00 p.m. at Weymouth High. As of this writing, Melrose is perfect at 10-0 and has clear eyes on a Super Saturday at Gillette Stadium. But before any of that, they must take on old foe Wakefield on Thanksgiving Day. 

Wakefield has been a team that is hard to pin down. The Warriors beat state semifinalist Watertown, made a game out of undefeated Marblehead in October, and recently beat a tough Gloucester squad. But last week, the Warriors suffered a big loss to Wayland, 41-6, so there is no telling which team will show up at Fred Green Field on Nov. 23. But given the fierce rivalry and always-competitive nature of Melrose-Wakefield games, it’s clear this season can’t be considered a flawless one for Melrose without a victory over their neighbors to the north. 

According to Melrose coach Tim Morris, Wakefield (4-6 overall, 2-3 league) may be down this season, but not out. “This is a team who can beat anyone in the league. They’ve had some great efforts and some bad breaks. We haven’t seen them obviously this season but they always have weapons, they’re big up front. I know they will be ready for us.”

The Warriors bring to the field an experienced quarterback in Mike Lucey, a talented senior line, including All Star Devon O’Brien and Alex Joly. Their running game comes courtesy of Ryan Fitzpatrick and Danny Marinaccio. 

Wakefield showed improvement over the season and had to fight in (quite possibly) the toughest division in the North (Freedom Division) loaded with state semifinalists Watertown, Stoneham and a surprisingly tough Wilmington team, which may have only made the Warriors stronger as a team. While Melrose certainly has the advantage going in, they won’t be able to rest easy, as Wakefield will most likely be chomping at the bit to get the Thanksgiving trophy out of Melrose’s hands after four long years. 

“The Freedom League was very tough this year,” notes Morris, who pointed to the incredible success of Melrose, Watertown, Stoneham and Wilmington. “It’s been like this for a long time. We have very good coaches and players who play sound football. There has been great parity this season and it speaks the strength of our programs in the Middlesex.”

With two football games ahead of Melrose before a potential Super Bowl appearance (1 playoff, 1 non), Morris notes it is a day-to-day approach. “We’re still studying, conditioning and have a lot of football ahead of us.”

The 58th Thanksgiving Classic takes place at Fred Green Field at 10:15 a.m. on Thanksgiving Day.