The Big Game on Thanksgiving was St. Jerome's Versus Coaldale

The Big Game on Thanksgiving was St. Jerome’s Versus Coaldale

(Ed Gildea, Valley Gazette, December 1989)

Sports historian Bernie Sharpe of Tamaqua, who probably knows more about the history of St. Jerome’s High School than anyone living, pointed out that we had the date wrong under the reprint of the Coaldale Observer’s account of the Coaldale-St. Jerome’s football game on pages 18 and 19 of our last issue.

Bernie, a 1947 graduate of St. Jerome’s High School who started providing the school’s sports news to The Evening Courier in Tamaqua as a sophomore, reported that the game was played on Thanksgiving Day of 1930, not 1931.

Coaldale won the game, 7-0. Bernie noted that the victory avenged a defeat the year before when Coaldale lost to St. Jerome’s, also on Thanksgiving Day.

Most people, including this writer, thought the big Thanksgiving Day game in the 30’s always featured Coaldale versus Lansford, but Bernie notes that it wasn’t until after the 1932 season that those two traditional rivals started playing on Turkey Day in the Panther Valley.

Bernie reported that in the last Thanksgiving Day game between Coaldale and St. Jerome’s in 1932, the Tigers prevailed by a score of 18-0.

Coaldale was also the winner the year before, in 1931, by a 20-7 score, he added.

Coaldale won three of the four games in the series and the annual Thanksgiving Day game was a grudge battle from the start, referred to as the “Battle of the Jungle,” with the Orange and Black Tigers going against the Red and White Lions, which was the official nickname of the St. Jerome’s teams, though they were referred to mostly as the Jerries, Sharpe pointed out.

After the 10-0 1930 season, Coaldale went on to win six more in 1931 until Lansford wrecked their 16-game winning streak with a 6-0 victory. The Panthers, incidentally, won the first Thanksgiving Day clash with Coaldale in 1933 by a 3-0 score.

Sharpe noted that before St. Jerome’s High School dropped football in the late 1930’s the Catholic high school in Tamaqua was known as a powerhouse among area grid teams and when you beat St. Jerome’s you got respect.