STROUDSBURG – Two schools in the Poconos are throwing in the towel on a turkey day tradition.
After almost 70 years, the battle between Stroudsburg Area and East Stroudsburg South football teams for the Little Brown Jug is ending.
Turkey and football are normally a perfect pairing on Thanksgiving Day, and since the 1940s that has been the case for East Stroudsburg South and Stroudsburg High Schools.
But now the two districts said it’s time to move on and start a new tradition.
It’s been a time-honored tradition in the Poconos: Thanksgiving Day football between East Stroudsburg South and Stroudsburg Area High Schools. But now the clock has run out on the rivalry game for the Little Brown Jug.
“You know we`re to the point now where things have changed so drastically that I think our school has made the correct decision to do what`s best for our kids,” said East Stroudsburg South Football Coach Ed Christian.
When the tradition began in the 1940s, the battle for the Little Brown Jug used to always be the last game of the season. Now these teams play each other at least once before Thanksgiving Day.
Stroudsburg Area’s superintendent said the old format just didn’t work and some serious injuries had them re-evaluating the game.
“It means nothing. It`s important for the tradition, don`t get me wrong. But as far as the kids are concerned, do we really want to put the kids in harm’s way to potentially have kids injured based on exhibition?” asked Stroudsburg Area School District Superintendent Dr. John Toleno.
But the game isn’t going away for good. It will now be played as part of the regular season.
One part of this tradition won`t change. If the visiting team wins the Little Brown Jug, they`ll walk right across this bridge from Stroudsburg to East Stroudsburg to bring their victory home.
But still some community members disagreed, saying tradition is tradition.
“I think they should keep it as it has been since 1946. Everything Thanksgiving Day, that`s the tradition, that`s the way it should be. That`s my opinion,” said Nick Aandris of East Stroudsburg.
Former players at East Stroudsburg South said the number of people in the stands has decreased in recent years for the game. Only 1,500 showed up this past Thanksgiving Day.
Matt Walters said he hopes the changes could make the Little Brown Jug game even more important to players and fans.
“The district points, winning the conference championship, you have to beat Stroudsburg in the regular season, and now it`s for the Little Brown Jug. That`s something that this community is really excited for,” said Matt Walters, an East Stroudsburg South 2011 graduate.
This isn’t the first time the Little Brown Jug rivalry has ended.
The game was stopped in 1996, but returned in 1999. This time both the Mounties and Cavaliers think the change could be for good.