By Michael J.
on Saturday, Oct.12, 1946, as reported in the Branford
Review, was not cooperative. On that October day it was
recorded that “2,000 hardy fans braved the elements.” In
spite of the weather the Branford high School football
team prevailed in its inaugural game against soon to be
arch-rival East Haven, by a 21-7 score. Playing in
intermittent rain, Branford was led by Joe Petela, who
scored the first touchdown on a three yard run and by
Frank Reynolds, who scored twice from 4 and 15 yards
Thanksgiving Day 1993, the two teams met for the 52nd
time-again Branford was the victor-final score 34-6.
Branford leads the series with 26 wins. East Haven has
won 23 times and there have been three ties. Over the
last 20 games dating back to 1973, Branford has been
dominant, winning 17 times. During the early years of
the rivalry however, East Haven had its way with the
Hornets winning 14 of 16 games from 1948 – 1962.
1946-1949 the teams met not once but twice. In 1948, the
two battled to their first tie, an 0-0 struggle. It
would be another 18 years until the next tie, when in
1966, the game ended 6-6. The following year also saw
the last tie between the two teams, 0-0.
have seen shutouts and blow outs. The Hornets handed the
Yellow Jackets a white-washing in 1947 in the second of
two meetings by a score of 7-0. It was the Easties
however, who came up with an impressive string of of
four straight shutouts from 1953-1956, outscoring their
opponents by a combined score of 69-0. The Easties also
own the most lopsided victory-46-0 tally in the 1969
game is a game on par with Ansonia-Derby and other long
standing area rivalries. Friendly wagers between
politicians are part of its heritage and a season’s
success often seems based on the outcome of the game.
For fans in both towns it is “The Game.” Each
Thanksgiving Day it is Branford’s red and white against
East Haven’s yellow and blue.
pom poms waving, have been known to cruise through the
opposition’s downtown, car horns blaring, while
surprised onlooker’s stare curiously. Just part of the
tradition. The pride of the season can be lost or
salvaged on the outcome of this game alone. Such a case
can be made for the Eastie’s in the 1991 game. They woke
up Thanksgiving morning with a record of 0 wins and 9
losses, but proceeded to shut down Branford’s offense,
winning the game 3-0 on a last second field goal. What
was even sweeter for the Easties, was tha tit came on
Branford’s home turf and broke a 10 game losing streak.
Part of the
beauty of sport is that sometimes unlikely heroes are
born. In the fall of 1973, while most freshmen were
blocking dummies and dreaming of future glory, my
classmate was selected team manager. A year later on
Thanksgiving Day 1974 that same team manager was
transformed in a Hornet hero, splitting the uprights for
what turned out to be the winning point after a
touchdown in Branford’s thrilling 15-14 victory at East
Haven’s Crisafi Field. The dream continued for that
ex-manager as he went on to gain All-l Housatonic League
honors as a wide receiver. Nice memories, nice
Questions or Suggestions?