The Pope quit and the Sutton football team isn’t going to play Oxford on Thanksgiving Day as reported here a few weeks ago. Let me get this straight. Pope Benny is done. The Pope can’t quit. He has to go to heaven to give up his earthly title. The last time a Pope quit was in 400 A.D. This has been a tough time and I have to tell you, they are trying to shake my faith.
First, the Oxford-Auburn Thanksgiving Day game is dissolved after 41 years of tradition and now Pope Ben decides he has had enough. You just can’t quit being the Pope and quit playing Thanksgiving Day football games after 41 years. The only straight forward answers are coming out of Auburn. They are saying they do not have a Thanksgiving Day opponent for 2013 and are looking for a two year commitment from any school within a reasonable travel distance. The borders of Rhode Island, New Hampshire, and Connecticut are all in the mix along with any Massachusetts school. Sutton got cold feet after the announcement that they would play Oxford on Thanksgiving Day 2013. Sutton is rethinking their situation. It’s a real tangled web between Sutton and Oxford in athletics. I am hearing Blackstone Valley Tech and Blackstone-Millville as possibilities for Sutton on turkey day. Oxford seems to be overly concerned about the number of football players in grades 9-12. Oxford dropped Auburn for this reason and maintains that lack of numbers is the sole reason and concern for ending the Auburn holiday contest. I have a feeling that Oxford is taking a long hard look at their football program numbers at the present moment and are cautiously inching forward this winter. The Pirates have to persevere through this time of anguish. They have a new coach who has one year under his belt and the Oxford athlete is competing in basketball and baseball at consistent post season standards over the last half decade. The baseball team won the District E Division 3 title last spring and the Pirate basketball team is having another great season. Look for black smoke out of the Vatican and Oxford on a new Pope and Thanksgiving Day opponent.
The answer to the Oxford football team woes is their schedule. It has been brutal over the past few seasons.The competition for Oxford over the past three years had average teams on the upswing and strong teams like Northbridge, Shepherd Hill, and Auburn in their peak years. Add Bay Path as the opening game and Grafton, Tantasqua, and Leicester going to the playoffs in 2012. That’s 7 out of 11 teams on Oxford’s schedule that went to the playoffs in 2012. Oxford’s schedule could have consisted of Nashoba Tech, Bay Path, and Worcester Tech out of the Colonial League; Burncoat, South, and North out of the Inter High League; Bartlett, David Prouty and Southbridge out of the SWCL; Blackstone-Millville and then Sutton on Thanksgiving. Add another team for the 11th game and Oxford has a shot of winning half of their games and the travel time is very good outside of Nashoba Tech. Bay Path, Bartlett, and Southbridge are great ticket sellers. This is all wishful thinking because the football schedules are made up by the MIAA/State Football Board.
Happy "50th" Birthday to longtime friend Jan Kujawski. Jan celebrated the special occasion with a group of 40 family members and friends this past Saturday night on Shrewsbury Street in Worcester. Jan is a true Bartlett Indian and was a starter on the football team that broke Southbridge’s domination of the 1970s when he was a two way tackle. Jan was an advocate of the Booster Athletic Club Cardinals of the Webster Little League his entire life as he started out as the batboy at the age of 3 in 1966, to player, to assiatant coach, and then on to manager. He followed in the footsteps of dedication of his father Leon "Casey" Kujawski and his older brother Paul with the Webster Little League Cardinals. The Kujawskis and the Booster A.C. Little League Cardinals had a life span of over 40 years ending with Tim and Jonathan Kujawski. Jan still is a great promoter of Bartlett athletes and is an Indian fan. The likeable "gentle giant" and past Webster selectman has given his fair share of time helping many Webster youth groups including the Webster Pop Warner football team over the years. Happy 50th my friend and continued happiness.