Feast your eyes on these two Thanksgiving Day football games

GREATER SPRINGFIELD — This year, the Thanksgiving Day football schedule includes a marquee match-up that doesn’t involve East Longmeadow and Longmeadow.

The showdown between Minnechaug Regional High School and Central High School, slated for 10 a.m. at Central, is a match-up of two of the top teams in Western Massachusetts and while both teams are essentially a lock for a playoff bid, seeding in the tournament could be greatly affected by this game.

The Golden Eagles are hungry to get back to the Super Bowl, where they dropped a thriller to Longmeadow 34-31 a year ago, while the Falcons are trying to make their first appearance since 2006 when they lost the Division IAA Super Bowl to St. John’s of Shrewsbury 20-14.

Golden-armed senior quarterback Greg Heineman leads the Falcons. Having already surpassed the region’s all-time passing record, he has recorded consecutive seasons of 20 or more touchdowns.

But this team is far more than one man. Ten different receivers have caught touchdown passes for Minnechaug this season, led by Joe Noble, while Greg Augustin and Christopher Kwiatkowski have combined for more than 1,000 yards on the ground.

On the other side of the field, Sacoy Malone has quietly put up a tremendous season in the backfield for the Golden Eagles that included a stretch of six straight games of 100 yards or more.

The streak was sparked by a 237-yard, two-touchdown performance by the tailback against Chicopee Comprehensive High School on Sept. 23 and highlighted by an outstanding 301-yard, seven-touchdown effort against Northampton on Oct. 21.

While the Eagles’ ground game is one to be reckoned with, the Falcons cannot sleep on the pass, as quarterback Cody Williams has the ability to put up points through the air, as illustrated by the four touchdown passes he threw against a Holyoke team that did well in containing Malone on Nov. 11.

Meanwhile, Longmeadow will host East Longmeadow at 10 a.m. in a confrontation between a team looking to stay on top and a team looking to make a name for itself.

Longmeadow has had its share of obstacles to climb this season on its way to a 9-2 record heading into this game, including some tough injuries.

Starting quarterback Jake Lazarus has suffered two hand injuries, having broken his right thumb early in the season, then later his left thumb in the Lancers’ victory over Minnechaug on Nov. 11. Lazarus did not play in the Lancers’ Nov. 17 demolition of Northampton and with backup quarterback John Falcone out with a season-ending knee injury, the Lancers kept the ball on the ground almost exclusively.

A recent leg injury to senior running back TJ Norris also hurts, but Austin Sierra has stepped in brilliantly, recording back-to-back career games of 155 and 171 yards against Minnechaug and Northampton, respectively.

East Longmeadow is currently on the outside looking in at the playoff picture and a big win over a Division I opponent to end the season could go a long way in changing that.

It’s been an up and down season for the Spartans, who have had some great moments, such as a strong 20-9 victory over West Springfield and a thrilling 30-27 win against South Hadley. They’ve also had some very down moments.

East Longmeadow loves to run, choosing to do so on about three of every four plays this season. They balance their attack with contributions from Tom Mazza, David Dubner, Kevin Foley and Nick Cutler.

Mazza has had the most success finding the end zone for the Spartans, including a four-game streak during which he scored at least one rushing touchdown this season.

While East Longmeadow is very conservative when it comes to taking to the air, Mazza can also be a factor along with Sam Blake, catching passes from quarterback Dan McGuill, who has had some solid performances, including a 158-yard, three-touchdown game against South Hadley.

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