Regardless of the outcome of the annual Turkey Bowl, the battle for the San Francisco Section football championship at Kezar Stadium on Thanksgiving Day, history will be made.
Lincoln will be seeking its unprecedented fifth consecutive Turkey Bowl title, solidifying its reign over recent public school football in The City.
“This is [uncharted] water,” Lincoln coach Phil Ferrigno said. “If you’re a coach, athlete or player, you try to win the championship every year. We are embracing that.”
Lincoln’s opposition will be Galileo, which, after a 1-25 record in the past three seasons, has turned in an 8-3 record on the year, including a 6-1 mark during Academic Athletic Association play.
Although struggling as of late, Galileo is arguably The City’s most storied program, with 15 Turkey Bowl championships, tied with defunct Polytechnic for the all-time lead. A win over Lincoln would give the Lions the outright lead.
Lincoln has had an up-and-down season, amassing a 6-6 record. After dropping the first three games by a combined score of 114-28 and losing their first two AAA games, the Mustangs rallied to win three of their last four games to secure a No. 4 seed in the city playoffs.
“It’s been a tough season, a season of growth,” Ferrigno said. “They had to learn to fight for everything. We weren’t firing on all cylinders.”
Both teams cruised to victory in the semifinal round of the playoffs — Galileo with a 38-14 win over Lowell, and Lincoln with a 40-21 win over top-seeded Washington — but both coaches are embracing the role of the underdog.
“Everyone still thinks Lincoln is the team to beat,” Galileo coach Mark Huynh said. “They’ve won the last four Turkey Bowls.”
Ferrigno is playing a similar card.
“They beat us last time,” Ferrigno said. “If we think we can just go in there and win because we’ve been there before, we’re gonna have problems.”
The Lions did beat the Mustangs in their first meeting on Nov. 5, but the game was competitive throughout, with Galileo coming up with a 34-28 victory.
The undisputed star of that game was junior running back Quincy Nelson, who exploded for 277 yards rushing against the Mustangs.
Nelson was also the main offensive weapon for the Lions in their semifinal win over Lowell, scoring three touchdowns and amassing
146 yards in the victory.
“He’s the best back in The City,” Lowell coach Danny Chan said after the Cardinals’ loss last week.
One only has to look to the other sideline today to find another contender for “best back in The City,” in Lincoln senior tailback Eric Beverly.
“He can get the tough yards, get outside or just jump over you,” Ferrigno said. “He’s developing as a kid and as a player.”
Beverly ran for a season-high 300 yards against Washington in the semifinals, and has a 1,502 yards rushing on the season.
“It was a special day for him,” Ferrigno said of Beverly’s performance against Washington. “He works his butt off, and it was good to see that pay off.”
Beverly had 159 yards rushing on 22 carries in Mustangs’ first meeting with Galileo, and Huynh is content with just containing him.
“We know he’ll get his big runs,” Huynh said. “We just have to try to stop him from getting touchdowns at the end of those runs.”
While Lincoln relies heavily on Beverly, Ferrigno anointed the Galileo attack a “three-headed monster” featuring Nelson, quarterback Dylan Nelson and fullback Patisela Ale.
Ferrigno highlighted his seniors, who have yet to experience a year in which they have not come out on top in The City.
“Their work ethic is not in question,” Ferrigno said. “If we lose and play our butt off, that’s all we can ask for.”
Lincoln (6-6) vs. Galileo (8-3)
WHEN: Today, 11 a.m.
WHERE: Kezar Stadium
AT STAKE: San Francisco Section championship
NOTES: Lincoln has won the past four Turkey Bowls and is looking to become the first team to win five straight. Polytechnic (1946-49) is the only other school to win four Turkey Bowls in a row. … Galileo’s last Turkey Bowl victory came in 2001. … Galileo won the regular-season Academic Athletic Association title with a 6-1 mark, while Lincoln went 5-2. … Galileo won the teams’ previous meeting this year 34-28.
LINCOLN COACH PHIL FERRIGNO: “If we think we can just go in there and win because we’ve been there before, we’re gonna have problems.”
GALILEO COACH MARK HUYNH: “Everyone still thinks Lincoln is the team to beat.”
Turkey Bowl champs
1966 St. Ignatius
1963 St. Ignatius
1962 St. Ignatius
1958 St. Ignatius
1956 St. Ignatius
1945 St. Ignatius
*Game was played on Saturday, Dec. 13