The Turkey Bowl, Baltimore's annual Thanksgiving high school football game featuring Calvert Hall and Loyola, will be played on the same day and time, only in a temporary new home for this year's 92nd meeting.
With M&T Bank Stadium unavailable on Thanksgiving morning because the Ravens will be hosting the San Francisco 49ers later that night, the game will be moved to Towson University's Johnny Unitas Stadium with the same 10 a.m. start on Thanksgiving Day. The two schools and Towson University reached an agreement late last week.
"The Ravens offered Friday or Saturday, but the two school presidents [Calvert Hall president Brother Thomas Zoppo and Loyola president Rev. Thomas A. Pesci] wanted to keep the game on Thanksgiving morning. Towson was agreeable and the two presidents were agreeable, so it all worked out," said Loyola athletic director Mike Keeney.
The logistics of the annual game had been in a state of flux since late April, when the National Football League schedule was released and featured the Ravens-49ers game on Thanksgiving night. Traditionally, the Detroit Lions and Dallas Cowboys play home games on Thanksgiving, but the NFL has recently added a third game at night that has a changing venue.
Calvert Hall and Loyola officials weighed different options, mostly the Ravens' offer to have the game stay at their stadium but be played on a different day. Ultimately, the priority was keeping the game on Thanksgiving morning.
"The game is as important as the turkey dinner," said Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association executive director Rick Diggs, a Loyola grad who played in three Turkey Bowl games. "Thanksgiving centers around the game — your whole day is planned around it. I loved my years at Loyola and my most vivid memories were the three games I played in on Thanksgiving Day."
In recent years, the game has drawn around 13,000 supporters. Johnny Unitas Stadium — the Baltimore area's third-largest outdoor venue behind M&T Bank Stadium and Camden Yards — has a capacity of 11,198.
The first Turkey Bowl was played in 1920 and moved to Memorial Stadium in 1944 until M&T Bank Stadium took over in 1998. In 1993, the game was moved to then-Towson State's Minnegan Stadium when Memorial Stadium was under contract for the filming of "Major League II."
Last year, Calvert Hall came away with a 41-13 Turkey Bowl win over Loyola, but the Dons still own a 48-35-8 advantage in the series.