On Friday September 30th, the Holliston Panthers will host the Westwood Wolverines, kickoff is at 6pm! The 2 TVL rivals have a long lasting rivalry, read more about the great rivalry below from Holliston Football Expert, Ken Dunn.
Article by: Ken Dunn
When the Westwood Wolverines travel to Holliston this Friday night, it will be the 44th consecutive year in which these two teams have played, and it will be the 49th encounter in this rivalry game. In the past, these two teams had only met on Thanksgiving Day until 2010 when the new playoff system in the TVL caused them to meet in the playoffs. That season the Panthers and Wolverines met in the opening round playoff game with Holliston shutting out the Wolverines 35-0 in route to a Super Bowl Championship. Then in 2011, the TVL split into two divisions with Holliston and Westwood being placed in the TVL Large. In 2013, the TVL required them to play their divisional game before the 8th week of the season to determine the TVL Title and placement in the MIAA playoffs. Westwood and Holliston have been playing at least two times every season since, keeping the traditional Thanksgiving Day game on the schedule. The game on Thanksgiving does not count toward the Tri-Valley League record and is considered a non-league contest. In 2013, the two teams played three times; once in the TVL divisional game, once in the playoffs, and then on Thanksgiving Day. Westwood leads the series with a record of 29-18-1.
This rivalry has a storied history. It all began in 1973, a year following the 1972 undefeated Panther squad that was snubbed from the State Championship banner due to what was called “strength of schedule.” Coach Tom Caito was actively involved in bringing a bigger and stronger team into the TVL and putting them on the schedule in the Thanksgiving Day slot. He said, “We need a strong team to play on Thanksgiving that will be near the top of the league and very competitive with us. That is what makes a great rivalry for the season’s final game each year.” This rivalry has not disappointed over the past 44 years. The TVL Title has been determined many of these years by the result of this game.
That first game in 1973 was won by Westwood 6-0 and pulled Westwood into 2nd place in the TVL and dropped Holliston to 3rd place. Westwood won again in 1974 with an 8-0 score to give them a tie for the TVL Title with Medway. In 1975, Holliston and Westwood came into the Thanksgiving Day game with undefeated records; Holliston with a perfect 7-0 TVL record and Westwood at 6-0-1. The winner of this game would go to the Super Bowl, but the game ended in a 0-0 tie. This tie gave Holliston the outright TVL Title and their first Super Bowl birth. In 1976, Holliston got their first win over Westwood by a 19-8 score giving the Panthers their second straight Super Bowl appearance.
Ever since those early meetings, these two team have been battling for the TVL Title on the last day of the season. Even when one team comes in with a much better record, the under-dog team seems to come up with a spirited performance and has often pushed the other away from a TVL Championship. It is a solid rivalry game that brings out the best in both teams every year. Lately, some of the luster and anticipation for this game has been diminished due to multiple meetings during the season and its positioning just before the Super Bowl game, but it always brings out a lot of emotional play between two solid football programs. Last year’s 19-12 win by Holliston at Westwood propelled the Panthers to another TVL Title and a second straight Super Bowl Championship. This game will prove to be the key game in the TVL Large Title race again this year.