Game #134 kicks off at 10 a.m. on Thanksgiving at Macdonald Stadium in Malden
The first time they played this game, way back in 1889, if a high school football fan did not walk to the Malden-Medford game, they took a horse and buggy. Automobiles were invented barely a year earlier and not in use anywhere. The forward pass was still 17 years away!
Over 130 years later, Malden High School and Medford High School are still battling it out on Thanksgiving morning, and this year is no different. Also, check out this breaking news: The Malden-Medford game is now the oldest continuous high school football rivalry in the United States – at 133 games! It formerly trailed only Boston Latin-Boston English, which began in 1887. But Latin and English did not play in pandemic-restricted 2020 or even in “Fall 2” this past spring.
Malden did play Medford in “Fall 2,” thus keeping its streak alive! The game was indeed played on May 6 – an oddity in itself – but the game was played. Medford topped Malden, 24-21, to end an onerous 14-game losing streak.
On Thursday the Golden Tornadoes of Malden will host the Medford Mustangs at Macdonald Stadium (22 Pearl St., Malden) in the 134th meeting of the two teams. It is a traditional 10 o’clock kickoff on Thanksgiving morning.
Malden has won the last five holiday games in a row, including a 29-0 game at windswept Hormel Stadium in Medford in 2019. Medford did snap the actual five-game series streak in Malden’s favor with its 24-21 win in May, but the actual Thanksgiving streak still holds.
The Golden Tornadoes hold a 67-55 advantage in the annual matchup. There have been 10 ties in the ancient series.
Malden, led by first-year Head Coach Witche Exilhomme, comes into this year’s game seeking its second win. Malden (1-8) slipped past Somerville in Game 3 of this season, but has dropped six straight since. Medford has not fared much better in the regular season, coming in at 2-8 overall. After a 25-0 win over Somerville, Medford has dropped four straight games.
Coach Exilhomme has seen the game as a player in 2009, 2010 and 2011 and as an assistant coach in “Fall 2.” It was a new chapter for him as head coach in 2018.
Coach Exilhomme said he and his team are excited about this year’s game as it holds special meaning. “Every Thanksgiving game is unique and every one is special in its own right because, for that year’s seniors, it is their last game,” Coach Exilhomme said. “Fortunately for our seniors this year, they have a home game.” Malden will honor its senior players and cheerleaders at halftime of tomorrow’s game, which will be Senior Day.
Suiting up for the last time as Golden Tornadoes in tomorrow’s game are senior captains Ethan Heon, Jordan Rodriguez and Gavin West, along with fellow seniors Mackenley Anasthal, Jevonte Augustin, Justin Desimone, Jeremiah Dessources, J.J. Irizharry, Ronald Juarez, Lyden Lewis, Paccini Louis and Trae Texeira. Despite double-digit seniors for the first time in many years, Malden still fields a young team overall. Coach Exilhomme’s junior varsity team was the Greater Boston League champion this past fall, and many quality players from that 8-3 team see varsity time each week.
Speaking to the youths of the team, Malden is planning on handing the starting spot at quarterback to freshman Aidan Brett on Thanksgiving morning. Malden has had all kinds of trouble scoring points this season, and the Malden coaching staff is hoping the mobile, strong-armed Brett can give the Golden Tornadoes a boost at home.
Malden’s favorite receiving targets will be West, sophomore 6-5 split end Gabriel Vargas and sophomore speedster Felix DaCosta. Coming out of the Golden Tornadoes backfield will be senior J.J. Irizharry, this season’s leading rusher, and junior Mack Coulanges-Blais. Senior strong safety Mackenley Anasthal, senior linebacker Justin Desimone, senior defensive lineman Jeremiah Dessources and freshman linebacker James Hyppolite have been leaders for Malden’s defense. Senior placekicker Ronald Juarez, who set a Thanksgiving record with a 32-yard field goal in Malden’s 2019 victory, is a steady weapon if the Golden Tornadoes can find a way to get into the Red Zone.
“It is said every year, throw out the records, and it is true this year as well. This is Malden-Medford and it will all be decided on the field on Thanksgiving. It never changes,” Malden sixth-year Athletic Director Charlie Conefrey said. “We look forward to seeing all the former players and alumni who will come for this game. It is the best day of the season and we want to finish with a win for our seniors.”
Tickets for the game are available in the Malden High School Athletic Office (77 Salem St., Malden) – $7 for adults and $5 for students – until noon on Wednesday. All tickets are $7 on the day of the game.