Thanksgiving is known for food, family and football, particularly Calvert Hall and Loyola Blakefield football in the Baltimore area. That tradition will continue this season.
The schools announced Wednesday that the coronavirus pandemic that halted most fall sports in the area won’t halt their historic Thanksgiving Day football matchup.
The 101st edition of the Turkey Bowl is set to take place Thursday, Nov. 26, at 10 a.m. at Calvert Hall’s Paul Angelo Russo Stadium. It’s the first time in the rivalry’s history that the game will played on either of the schools' current campuses. “Specific guidelines and protocols, including spectator policies, will be finalized in the coming weeks,” according to a statement on the Loyola Blakefield website.
“After months of uncertainty, we are excited to officially announce Turkey Bowl 101," Calvert Hall President Brother John Kane said. "Generations of Calvert Hall and Loyola families have spent Thanksgiving morning celebrating these two great institutions, and we are elated for the tradition to continue.”
Loyola Blakefield president Anthony Day is also looking forward to the occasion.
“Schools have overcome an incredible amount of disruption since March, which has brought elevated levels of anxiety for students, families, and educators,” Day said in a statement. “Although the pandemic has robbed our students of other elements of their school year, committing to this special event, which has endured so much through its storied history, brings our communities together in a way that celebrates a proud legacy of education in the Catholic tradition and the spirit of brotherhood and family that the game represents.”
Calvert Hall is riding a seven-game winning streak in the matchup, and is coming off a 33-10 victory in 2019. This won’t be the first Turkey Bowl for Calvert Hall coach Josh Ward, but it will be the first entry of his as the head man at his alma mater.
“Turkey Bowl is synonymous with tradition," Ward said. "Tradition evokes a sense of comfort and unifies a community. Our players, coaches, and school community look forward to bringing a sense of normalcy to Thanksgiving Day and continuing the long-standing rivalry with Loyola Blakefield.”
Anthony Zehyoue is in his fourth season as Loyola Blakefield’s coach. In 2019, he led the Dons to an 8-2 record, their best since 2008 (11-0). He looks to stop the Cardinals' streak and is excited to return to the field.
“In this year, when so many of our community’s traditions have been cancelled or postponed, the opportunity to play the Turkey Bowl is a privilege and blessing,” Zehyoue said. “Our Dons and the Loyola community relish this game, and we look forward to preparing for the challenge.”
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Loyola Blakefield leads the overall Turkey Bowl series at 49-43-8.
The Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association voted to allow its fall programs to pursue independent schedules Oct. 14. Each team hasn’t officially finalized their schedules, but the two programs have a lot in store for the year. Both schools return a bevy of starters, including senior quarterbacks Amir Jenkins at Calvert Hall and Jordan Moore at Loyola.
“We have such a great group of kids, coaches, parents — who work extremely hard and care about the success of our program,” Zehyoue said. “Everybody was worried for awhile that we wouldn’t see it through. So, it’s great that we have this opportunity now. We’re super excited, the guys have been practicing hard, we’re just waiting on this one final opportunity to compete.”
The game will air on WMAR-2 News and be livestreamed on their website.
While the game hasn’t been played on Thanksgiving, another notable local rivalry, the City-Poly game, could be in jeopardy this year with Baltimore City schools still not cleared to play this fall. The game has been played for 131 straight years. Poly leads the series, which dates to 1889, 63-62-6.