Staples and Greenwich battle on Thanksgiving

Thomas Nealon, Staff Writer

For 93 years now, Americans have maintained the tradition of watching professional football games on Thanksgiving.  At Staples, there is a similar tradition; the Wreckers football team challenges Greenwich to a crucial end-of-the-season game on Thanksgiving Day.

The tradition of the Thanksgiving football game dates back to the year 2000, when Coach Marce Petroccio made a decision to start an annual game versus Greenwich.

“Back then, no one wanted to play Greenwich on Thanksgiving; they were too good. But I said, okay, I’ll play them, and that’s how the whole thing started,” Petroccio said.

Coach Petroccio viewed the Thanksgiving game as an opportunity to play against an opponent who would challenge the Wreckers.

According to Petroccio, the one game that was the most memorable and important to the rivalry was the 2009 game. In that game, the Wreckers blocked a field goal in the final seconds of the game to win 30-28, and remained undefeated that season.

This year’s game looks to add to that long history. According to, Staples is ranked eighth in the FCIAC this year, while Greenwich is ranked sixth. The game will most likely have playoff implications and decide the fate of both teams’ seasons.

“Not only will it be the last regular season game, but anytime you have the opportunity to play a great program like Greenwich and potentially beat them, it is a great way to end the season, especially since the game has evolved into such a fierce rivalry,” Petroccio said.

This year, the game will be very memorable for the players because they get to carry on a tradition that has lasted well over a decade.

“It really does mean a lot considering the great tradition behind the game. Anything can happen on Thanksgiving, and just being part of its great history is truly an honor,” Captain Jake Melnick ’15 said.

The impact this year’s game has on Melnick is bigger than usual, considering that it could potentially be the last game ever played as a Wrecker for Melnick, and all the other seniors.

“Being a senior, it really does make it even more important for us to win. It will be one of the things we remember for the rest of our lives,” Melnick said.

Former player Nick Ward ’14 experienced the intense rivalry first-hand, but he is now attending and playing football for Trinity College. As he reflected on his memories of playing for Staples, he, too, found the Thanksgiving game to be one of his most fond memories.

“It was an honor to play in the game against Greenwich on Thanksgiving. Two out of the three times I played them, it was for the FCIAC Championship, so it had even more on the line than it usually did,” Ward said, “I have missed playing in every game this year, but I will miss this game the most because of the intense rivalry and rich tradition of this game.”

It is hard for former players and coaches to not feel nostalgic when reflecting upon Thanksgiving Day games. These great memories have positively impacted their lives and will remain with them forever. For most Americans, Thanksgiving football is simply entertaining, but to those who have ever been a part of the Wreckers football program, and have ever proudly worn the white and blue, the Thanksgiving rivalry game is more than a game; it is life-long memories waiting to happen.