Newton North rivalry roars on

While the Warriors and Tigers have now competed on Thanksgiving Day for 120 years,  the rivalry has spread beyond the bounds of an annual football game. PHOTO BY JULIANA KAPLAN.
While the Warriors and Tigers have now competed on Thanksgiving Day for 120 years, the rivalry has spread beyond the bounds of an annual football game. PHOTO BY JULIANA KAPLAN.

Since 1894, the Brookline and Newton North football teams have squared up every Thanksgiving Day in a cherished annual game. Soon after, the rivalry expanded to include all sports, from girls soccer to boys track.

While in total, Newton North football leads Brookline by only two Thanksgiving wins, recently, the athletic successes of the two teams have been lopsided. Brookline lost to Newton North 41 to 13 this year, and 49 to 8 last year

“Newton North definitely has had an edge on us in the last few years,” senior Tyler Patterson, a member of the football, basketball and baseball team, said. “They have been holding up their end of the bargain in terms of keeping the rivalry fresh and alive, and a lot of it is that Brookline, depending on the sport, falls a little flat.”

Despite this, the Brookline-Newton North rivalry remains one of the oldest and most heated rivalries in Massachusetts high school history, and the annual football game continues to be a special day. According to Patterson, every year before the Thanksgiving Day game, the captains from both schools meet to represent the team in a traditional banquet.

“It is really cool and a really great tradition,” Patterson said. “It’s a big deal for the town, it’s a big deal for the rivalry, it’s fun to be able to go to the banquet every year where the football captains end up meeting and celebrating the tradition of the game itself, and it celebrates the rivalry.”

Athletes from both Brookline and Newton North agree that the game-time atmosphere, be it football, basketball or volleyball, is what makes the rivalry so exciting. Senior Curtis Beatrice, a football captain for Newton North, said that the exhilarating home crowd plays a huge role in determining the outcomes of games.

“There’s a lot of cheering going on, seeing who can be louder; it’s just a crazy atmosphere,” Beatrice said. “The edge truly depends on who is home and who is away, especially in basketball. When they come here to play us, we have the bigger edge, and when we go there, they do.”

Senior Nica Kovalcik sets up for a spike against Newton North on Sep. 19 in Schluntz gym. The Brookline and Newton North girls volleyball teams have met in the playoffs three of the past four years. PHOTO CONTRIBUTED BY JAIME SERRATO MARKS.
Senior Nica Kovalcik sets up for a spike against Newton North on Sep. 19 in Schluntz gym. The Brookline and Newton North girls volleyball teams have met in the playoffs three of the past four years. PHOTO CONTRIBUTED BY JAIME SERRATO MARKS.

Senior Nica Kovalcik, the captain of the high school’s girls varsity volleyball team, had her team eliminated from the playoffs by Newton North two years in a row. Kovalcik also said that when it comes down to it, preparing thoroughly to play North is important mostly because they are a high-caliber team, not because there is a lot of hype surrounding the game.

“We prepared for them well because we knew that they are a good team and they have athletic players,” Kovalcik said. “We game-planned a lot before we played them because we knew players individually and we knew what their tendencies were.”

Kovalcik also refuted the misconception that wearing black, as most girls sports teams do on the day of a game against the Tigers, means there is hatred among the two teams.

Senior Arinze Obiora, a member of the boys varsity basketball team, agreed that what separates playing North from other teams is the zealous fan attendance.

“The atmosphere in terms of the fans reminds me of a professional basketball game,” Obiora said. “When you’re on the court playing, you feel like every move you make is being watched, and if you make the slightest mistake, you will be ridiculed nonstop.”

Unlike Kovalcik, Obiora says that there is a very different vibe in practice prior to games against North, largely because of the exciting history between the two schools.

“Usually, what happens is that the coaches remind us about the previous games that we have had with Newton,” Obiora said. “That gets us pumped up and makes us practice harder and push each other to prepare for anything that Newton could possibly throw at us.”

According to senior Tommy Mobley, the captain of Newton North’s boys varsity basketball team and defending Bay State Conference MVP, playing Brookline is unparalleled to playing any other team. Mobley said that Brookline’s boys basketball team has beaten them more than any other team in the Bay State Conference during his tenure at Newton North.

“We play Brookline two times every year,” Mobley said. “No matter how good or bad a Newton North or Brookline team is that year, it is always a close game.”

Kate Cordner, who played soccer, basketball, and softball for Brookline from 2005 to 2009, said that what made the rivalry so special was that the teams were so equal. According to Cordner, during that four year span, Newton’s and Brookline’s basketball teams were practically mirror images.

“I hated them,” Cordner said. “We had very similar star players. We had a really good center, and they had a really good center. We had a really good point guard, and they had a really good point guard. So, my senior year especially, we got really hyped up playing against them.”

Cordner said that in her years at the high school, the rivalry was especially intense because of the two schools’ demographics as well as athletic prowess.

“What makes it such a great rivalry is that it’s so even in our school dynamic, school environment, school makeup, that it’s almost like playing ourselves,” Cordner said. “And over the years, the fact that it’s this historic rivalry makes it just all the more exciting to play each other.”

Noa Dalzell can be contacted at [email protected]