Traditional football showdown between Calvert Hall and Loyola Blakefield will be played on Thanksgiving morning


by Nelson Coffin

The venerable football series between Calvert Hall College High School and Loyola Blakefield that has survived the Great Depression, the aftermath of World I and the full brunt of WW II among other serious issues which might have sidelined it along its century-long path, is hoping to sidestep another foe — the coronavirus pandemic — this year.

Believed to be the oldest continuous football rivalry game between Catholic schools in America, the 101st edition of the Turkey Bowl is slated for Thanksgiving for its traditional 10:00 a.m. kickoff.

However, in a concession to the unusual circumstances surrounding the virus and its effect on athletic seasons that are just getting under way in the Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association, the game will be played on the home field of one of the schools for the first time — Calvert Hall’s Paul Angelo Russo Stadium in Towson.

Typically, a neutral site was used throughout the decades, most notably at Johns Hopkins University’s Homewood Field, Memorial Stadium, M&T Bank Stadium and, for the last few years, at Towson University’s Johnny Unitas Stadium, in the series that has been played every year since 1920 and on Thanksgiving since 1929 when both schools were located in downtown Baltimore.

As of yet, no decision has been made on whether to allow fans or media to the event that will be televised on Baltimore’s WMAR-2 and its streaming platforms at www.wmar2news.com/live.

The game will not fall under the auspices of the MIAA, according to a statement released by Loyola Blakefield on Wednesday afternoon.

“Although fall sports for member schools of the Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association (MIAA) will take place in the form of independent schedules, both schools were eager to ensure a safe path toward extending the Turkey Bowl tradition,” the statement read.

“Schools have overcome an incredible amount of disruption since March, which has brought elevated levels of anxiety for students, families, and educators,” said Anthony Day, Loyola Blakefield president. “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.”

While the Dons lead the series, 49-43-8, the Cardinals, who won the landmark 100th game last year, 33-10, own a six-game winning streak heading into the battle and have prevailed in 10 of the last 11 encounters between the cross-Towson schools.

In a statement released by Calvert Hall the same afternoon, Brother John Kane, Calvert Hall president, said that the schools were excited to announce that the game is scheduled “after months of uncertainty.

“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,” he added.

Calvert Hall alumnus and first-year coach Josh Ward ’04, looks to continue the Cardinals winning ways on Thanksgiving Day after taking over for Donald Davis, who recored a 10-3 mark against the Dons.

“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 longstanding rivalry with Loyola Blakefield.”