It's the most wonderful time of the year. You can almost hear the popular carol playing as our soundtrack as the holiday season (aka postseason football) descends upon us.
Football fans have lots to be thankful for this Thanksgiving week, including a couple of great high school championship match-ups.
Tyrone and Forest Hills have shared a healthy postseason rivalry for more than a decade. It will be exciting to see the two powerhouses, and their living-legend head coaches, go head-to-head for the AA championship again.
In Class A, the inter-diocesan clash between Bishop Carroll and Bishop McCort will undoubtedly pack Mansion Park as well.
They may be the small-school divisions, but all four of these championship contenders boast big-time, ferocious fan bases, which will make for an amazing atmosphere both Friday night and Saturday afternoon.
Having the championship games on Thanksgiving weekend creates a special holiday tradition: All four teams will undoubtedly be practicing at their respective fields and then settling down for turkey dinner on Thursday, spending the day with their football families and their real families. And they wouldn't have it any other way.
Penn State fans may not have had the kind of season they dreamed of, but there have been some amazing moments, from JoePa's 400th win to the Cinderella story of Matt McGloin. Lion fans can be thankful for another bowl-eligible squad, and the chance to make warm-weather holiday travel plans.
The Nittany Nation should also give thanks for the longevity and consistency of the Penn State coaching staff and all they have accomplished over the last 40-plus years. The program that sparked championship parades in the 80's and Paternoville 20 years later has spawned generations of fans. And think of all the memories that have been made at tailgate parties, bowl games, pep rallies and simple get-togethers by family and friends in front of the television to watch Penn State play.
The Steelers' championship tradition is another point of local pride, and reason to be thankful. Few franchises can boast the post-season prowess of the Noll-Cowher-Tomlin teams and the decades of colorful characters and memorable moments and that go with the black and gold.
Eagles' faithful are welcoming the success of Philadelphia this season, even with one of the most hated NFL figures of the last decade wearing the green and silver. Like him or not, Michael Vick's second chance reminds us of the possibility of redemption.
Perhaps more than anything else, football fans can be thankful for the lessons learned on the gridiron, and the positive qualities that young people take away from participating in sport.
Kellie Goodman Shaffer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Her column appears on Tuesdays.