It’s the biggest football story in Lynn, and the season is a good four months away.
Joe Skeadas, director of athletics at Lynn Tech, and Anthony Grimaldi, director of athletics at KIPP Academy in Lynn, have entered in to an agreement where their football teams will meet in an annual Thanksgiving game to be played the night before the holiday at Manning Field.
The first Tech-KIPP Thanksgiving game will be played on Weds., Nov. 21, 2018, with a tentative kickoff time of 6 p.m.
Both athletic directors are being credited by school officials and alumni for their ingenuity and for taking the initiative to create a second all-Lynn football matchup on the holiday (Classical and English meet on Thanksgiving morning while St. Mary’s has a holiday game with Bishop Fenwick).
Skeadas had reached out to Austin Prep officials who agreed to discontinue its current holiday series with Tech. Grimaldi, whose football program made its debut last season in the Commonwealth Athletic Conference, contacted Thanksgiving opponent Milford, who allowed KIPP to move forward and schedule a Thanksgiving game with Tech.
And both administrators affirmed the significance of the game during a press conference Tuesday at the offices of Joe Skeadas. Asked how long the agreement would be in effect, Skeadas replied, “forever.”
Both men understood that a game featuring rosters of Lynn players would create a lot of interest in the community among players, coaches, alumni, and fans.
The game also eliminates a long road trip for the KIPP football team, who traveled from Lynn to Milford on Thanksgiving morning last year.
Grimaldi said he jumped at the chance for KIPP to play Tech in a Thanksgiving game.
“Lynn Tech is such an excellent program so the fact that they opened up this Thanksgiving game, it was such a huge opportunity for us to take, so we’re really excited,” said Grimaldi. “The fact that our student-athletes get to play such an esteemed program is an honor for us.”
Both teams play in the CAC Small Division, so the potential exists for the game to have CAC title implications.
Skeadas said he will be meeting with St. Mary’s director of athletics Jeff Newhall and Manning Field director Rich Avery to discuss the arrangements when the St. Mary’s-Fenwick is played at Manning Field on Thanksgiving Eve in 2019.
“Over the years Jeff Newhall has been very cooperative and a great AD and he helped me tremendously when I first became an AD,” said Skeadas. “We’ll work out the schedule with Jeff and we do not see any problem.”
The game will match up two outstanding coaches in Tech’s James Runner III and KIPP’s James Rabbitt. Tech won the state vocational championship last season after advancing to the North sectional final. KIPP was very competitive with a 3-7 record in its first season of varsity football and the future looks bright with a strong turnout of 40 players set to take the field for the 2018 season.
Skeadas said having another all-Lynn football game on the holiday was an important consideration.
“The great thing about playing KIPP is that the school has all Lynn student-athletes, so it’s another opportunity for a Lynn kid to play in a Thanksgiving game and be part of a tradition,” said Skeadas. “We’ve scrimmaged KIPP over the years in basketball and softball and the kids all know each other. It’s become a really great rivalry. And they’re in our league in football.”
Meanwhile, Grimaldi revealed another exclusive during the press conference, announcing that KIPP has been admitted to the Commonwealth Athletic Conference in boys basketball and girls basketball and will begin play in the CAC this winter. KIPP has played in the Massachusetts Charter School Athletic Organization in past seasons.