The Deering and Portland high football teams take part in 2019 Thanksgiving Day game. The holiday series between the two schools started in 1911. Gregory Rec/Staff Photographer

The two teams could not appear to be more different this fall. But that will hardly matter on Thursday when Portland and Deering high schools meet in the 109th edition of their Thanksgiving football rivalry.

Kickoff at Fitzpatrick Stadium is scheduled for 10:30 a.m.

Portland (10-1), coached by Jason McLeod, was undefeated during the regular season and advanced to the Class B South regional final. The Bulldogs outscored their opponents, 375-114, including a 40-0 victory over Deering in a regular-season game on Sept. 10.

Deering, coached by John Hardy, was winless in eight games this fall. The Rams were shut out in their final four games and scored just 34 points this season.

Portland holds the Thanksgiving Day advantage, 59-42-7, and has won five of the last seven holiday games. The series was not played last fall because of the coronavirus pandemic. On Thanksgiving Day in 2019, Deering defeated Portland, 32-13.

As recently as 2018, there were discussions about ending the Thanksgiving football series, the only one of its kind in Maine. Two decades ago, crowds of 5,000 and more were routine. But by 2015, only about 500 fans showed up, and ticket sales did not meet expenses. However, coaches at both schools insisted last fall that they want the tradition to continue.

Tickets are $5 for general admission, $3 for seniors and veterans and free for students with an ID/Metro Pass.

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