Ridley’s Matt Borchert is finally getting his chance to play against rival Interboro in a Thanksgiving game.
Ridley's Matt Borchert is finally getting his chance to play against rival Interboro in a Thanksgiving game. (Robert J.Gurecki)

RIDLEY TWP. — For someone who's always been right in the center of the Ridley-Interboro rivalry, it's surprising that Matt Borchert hasn't had the chance to play in it.

The Green Raiders' senior wide receiver and defensive back has seen things on both sides of the fence. Born in Prospect Park, Borchert played his youth football for the Termites, but everything else was always about Ridley. Then, in seventh grade, he moved out to the Ridley school district, where he's been a football and lacrosse standout for the Green Raiders.

Yet he's never had the chance to have a Thanksgiving Day clash with some of his Interboro friends until Thursday's 10:30 a.m. clash at Phil Marion Field. The Green Raiders (6-4) and Bucs (5-5) haven't had the season either expected coming off 11-1 and District One Class AAA champion seasons, respectively, but when they get together, what happened before really doesn't matter much.

Ridley owns the series between the two with a sparkling 33-11 record, but it's Interboro that holds a 5-4 edge in the series since 2000. The problem, though, is that the two teams haven't been able to play on an annual basis because one of them, if not both, is usually neck-deep in a playoff run. That's not the case this year and Borchert has a renewed focus on the Bucs.

"I've been looking forward to it since the season ended. It didn't really go the way we wanted it to coming from 11-1 last year,' Borchert said, "but I knew that it would be a great opportunity to play against my old friends and show them what we have on our home field.'

Borchert will have plenty of pressure at home to bring home a win before he settles down for the Turkey Day festivities with his family. His father Duane was an All-Delco and All-State wideout at Ridley who never felt the anguish of a loss to the Bucs, so the importance of the rivalry is something the younger Borchert is constantly reminded of.

"It goes on for the rest of your life,' said Borchert, whose uncle Mark Doubet was an All-Delco linebacker and an All-State lacrosse player. "He's been joking around with me. He played both Thanksgiving Days because they didn't have playoffs back in the ' 80s. They won (blowouts), so he's always joking with me that the bird is always going to taste better if we win. He jokes with me and says, ' You better bring home the W.' I know there's a lot riding for me and the team and we want to get the W, definitely.'

Borchert, who ranks eighth in Delco with 425 receiving yards to go with four touchdowns on 28 receptions, is a dynamic multi-threat player who boasts at least one touchdown through the air, on the ground and via punt returns. On the flip side, for all the individual skills he has, he needs a win over Interboro to cap his career. He didn't come out for football as a sophomore because he wanted to concentrate on lacrosse and the two teams didn't meet last year when the Bucs made their run to a District One title.

"I didn't play my sophomore year,' Borchert said. "That was probably my biggest regret. I took off. I wanted to focus on getting recruited for lacrosse, but yeah, I regret that.'

He knows that Thursday, his dad will be there to cheer him on, and Borchert would do well to not let the Green Raiders drop one to the Bucs.

"(Assistant) Coach (Ralph) Batty was his wide receivers coach, same as this year,' Borchert said. "I remember when I was in middle school, he would always tell coach Batty, ' Five more years. Five more years until my son gets up. Stick around.' Now I'm here.

"And a senior already,' Borchert added with a trace of amazement in his voice. "Wow.'