Hopewell football embraces Thanksgiving practice

Updated: Nov. 23, 2017 at 1:10 PM EST
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HOPEWELL, VA (WWBT) - It's the goal of every high school football team: Practicing on Thanksgiving Day. It means the squad is still alive, in the hunt for a state championship.

Eight local teams are still chasing state gold, including Hopewell in Class 3.

The Blue Devils took the practice field on Thursday morning to prepare for their showdown with York in the Region 3B title game on Saturday. Hopewell is 8-4 on the season, and kept its campaign alive last week with an upset victory over top-seeded Phoebus. York stands between the Blue Devils and a third straight trip to the state semifinals.

Of course, many high school students spend Thanksgiving morning sleeping in and getting ready for a big dinner. Hopewell's players and coaches plan on eating their fair share of food, but after they take care of business on the practice field.

"Its a great opportunity," senior quarterback Greg Cuffey said. "It's a blessing to be out here on Thanksgiving morning knowing we've done everything we could to get to this moment and we're just happy to be out here."

"We wouldn't want it any other way, and our kids wouldn't either," added head coach Ricky Irby. "They complained a little bit about it not being able to sleep in, but they wouldn't have it any other way as well. We're very fortunate to be playing still, and excited."

The Blue Devils know that the hard work that got them to this point must continue, and the players embraced the chance to spend a couple hours on a holiday getting better and fine-tuning their skills for Saturday's regional championship contest.

"At the end of the day we have one goal and that's to make it to states," said Riezon Murphy, a senior wide receiver and safety. "We gotta do what it takes, and if practicing on Thanksgiving is what it takes, then we're here."

Football is usually the main course, but when the final whistle blew at practice this morning, the individual players and coaches took part in their own respective holiday traditions. Many planned to spend the day with relatives and reflect on what they are thankful for. However, after some family time, many planned to get right back to business.

"Right after that we're getting back to game planning," said Irby, "watching film on York and seeing what we can do."

Hopewell and York kick off at 2 p.m. Saturday.

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