RUNNING ON ALL CYLINDERS — Red team quarterback Jonathan Orona feels the defensive pressure from Baltazar Reyez in the red hoody and Andrew Gutierrez wearing the beanie while Adrian Calixto gets open across the middle.

MABTON — Family traditions are the centerpiece to holiday gatherings, and for the Hernandez kinfolks, football has been a part of their Thanksgiving Day celebration for more than 65-years as 25 team members ran onto Keith Morris Field in pursuit of gridiron glory on Thursday, Nov. 28.

“It’s been a Hernandez family tradition since the 1950s. They loved playing football back then and now my grandson is playing out there,” Rick Hernandez stated as he stretched out on the sideline before heading out to join the pigskin action. “I don’t want to pull anything.”

The oldest player on the field at 55 years of age, Hernandez cinched up the yellow flag waist band who plans to keep going out onto the field until he can’t do it anymore. “Everybody knows that on Thanksgiving Day, it’s game on!”

The seasoned player stormed the field to win the moment and pressure the opposing team’s quarterback. Regina Palomarez sat on the player’s bench as she watched and cheered on Andre, her 11-year old son playing wide receiver and all the cousins.

“Mabton is all about family. They’re just getting ready for their Thanksgiving meal,” Palomarez happily acknowledged.

The annual game started around 9:30 a.m., and went until about noon. The competitive rivalry went back and forth as both teams celebrated their on field accomplishments after each score. There was an intermission or a break to catch their breath and get a few drinks of water.

As the teams strived for turkey day glory, by the end of the game, the red team won by a score. Family members and friends gathered in a circle at midfield, Pat “Boogie” Zavala expressed words of encouragement to all the players. “We’re always keeping the game competitively fun and safe at the same time.”

Hernandez, the field patriarch added, “Hopefully, the younger generation will keep this tradition going!”

Patrick Shelby can be contacted at 509-837-4500, ext. 110 or email

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