HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL: Homer-Center set for road trip after holiday practice
Homer-Center’s Turkey Bowl is taking place Thanksgiving morning. The real big game is a couple days later.
It’s Thanksgiving week, and the Wildcats are still alive in the playoffs, so on the holiday they’re still practicing. Players who would have taken part in the Turkey Bowl, an annual playground game staged in the community, won’t be able to participate, but that’s OK.
“We had a couple coaches that said one of their goals in coaching was to have practice on Thanksgiving,” Homer-Center coach Greg Page said. “Well, here we are, and we’re going to do that.”
Homer-Center (12-1), which won its first District 6 Class A championship since 1994 on Saturday night, faces District 3 champion Steelton-Highspire (11-1) in the PIAA quarterfinals at noon Saturday at Hersheypark Stadium.
Homer-Center will get Thursday’s work in during the morning, leaving the players and coaches free the rest of the day to enjoy the holiday with their families. For a football program that gets this far in the playoffs, it’s a benchmark, a responsibility and a badge of honor.
“It’s great,” senior tackle Luke Monko said. “It’s something you dream of. You want to still be playing around Thanksgiving. That means you’re doing really well.”
“I just love it,” senior guard Cody Miller said, “even though I might get yelled at by my mom every once in a while because I won’t be around the house as much because of practice, but, hey, we’re in the state playoffs.”
Page is mindful of the holiday and careful not to take football past its boundaries.
“Certainly it’s a little bit of a Catch-22,” he said. “You don’t want to take away from family time. Thanksgiving’s a really important family holiday. By the same token, we’re going in the morning so the boys can sleep in just a little bit, come in for a few hours, and we should be done before the noon hour, and they can go back and join their families and relax with them.”
The Wildcats will leave for Hershey on Friday morning, making the near-200-mile trip a day early and hitting the stadium for practice that afternoon.
“We’re treating it a little bit like a road trip,” Page said. “We want them to get down there and get that workout in and get relaxed, take it easy Friday evening and mentally prepare themselves for the game.
“It would be asking a lot of the kids to get up very early morning, make sure they had all that they needed, equipment and such, and to get on a bus and go 3? hours, and you’ve got to get right back off that bus and be ready to play a game.”