Athol and Mahar face off in oldest Thanksgiving football rivalry


Athol hosted Mahar Thursday in the oldest Thanksgiving football rivalry in western Massachusetts. 

Fans said the cold was not going to stop them from watching their favorite high school team battle their Thanksgiving rival.

The oldest Thanksgiving football rivalry in western Massachusetts took a new twist this year. 20-degree temperatures combined with a nasty wind made for one of the coldest games on record between Athol and Mahar.

But the cold didn’t stop fans from supporting their teams.

Athol fan Ryan York told 22News, “My daughter is on the cheer team I love to watch her and her team cheer, it’s a tradition this rivalry so you just battle the cold that’s it.”

The Athol-Mahar rivalry dates back to the 19th century when the schools first played in 1894.

Orange Mahar fan Payton Byoski said, “It could go either way honestly. We are just reaching the third quarter of the game, anything can happen at the moment. I have faith in my team.” 

Fans on both sides of this rivalry told 22News the team that would win this year would do a better job handling the brutally cold conditions.

“Handling the cold and I think the footing Mahar has the two small running backs that are running up the middle very easily,” said Larry Fisher.

Mahar beat Athol easily 28-0 behind their strong defense and explosive running backs. The Senators had lost four straight Thanksgiving games to Athol before Thursday’s victory.

Mahar improves to 4-7 on the season while Athol drops to 3-8.

Mahar will host their next Thanksgiving game in 2019. 

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