English v. Latin: A look Back at One of America’s Longest and Most Historic High School Rivalries
English High, founded in 1821, is the nation’s oldest public high school, and Latin ranks among the oldest. So it made sense that these two schools, that once stood right across the street from each other in the Fenway section of Boston should eventually start playing on Thanksgiving Day. The year of that opening kickoff: 1887. 2021 will be the 132nd meeting.
Since 1887, two of the oldest public schools in the United States, the English High School of Boston and Boston Latin School , have faced off in an annual football competition which now takes place on Thanksgiving Day at Harvard Stadium. The rivalry had been the longest-running continuous high school football rivalry in the U.S — the game was played every year, even during World War I, the Spanish flu, and World War II, until COVID-19 broke the stream in the 2020 season. It remains the fifth longest all time high school rivalry of all time.
The series began with both teams’ formation in 1887. Prior to 1887, English and Latin had fielded a unified team.
“The DNA of our sport of now-national pastime really did begin in Boston on Boston Common,” said Richard Johnson, curator of the Boston Sports Museum. He’s talking about the Oneida’s, an informal club, not so much an organized team, that got together in 1861 to play that original soccer-like game of football.
“They were local Boston kids, many of whom were going to Latin and English high schools, and they played all comers,” he said.
Until the late 1960s, the rivalry was fairly even. Sadly, since that time, Latin has dominated the series, leading all time 83–37–13, and winning 52 of the last 56 contests (1964-2019).
Ten of the games ended in scoreless ties, a rare feat in modern football at any level, although the last instance of this came in 1945. The implementation of overtime has dramatically reduced the number of tie games throughout the game of football.
Much of the series has been decided in blowout victories by one side or the other, with 63 of the 133 games being decided by shutouts and 38 of the contests ending in 20-point or more victories.
Our English High School Team for Thanksgiving Day 2021
Go Blue and Blue!
Here’s a look at some of the English teams and highlights of the last 134 Thanksgiving Days
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