Jesuit schools are steeped in tradition, dating back to the lessons St. Ignatius Loyola outlined for the early Jesuits in the 1530s.
At 10 a.m. on Thanksgiving morning, Jesuit high school alumni all over the East Coast will be taking part in one particular tradition that’s earned a place on the year’s calendar for nearly a century: donning school colors and waiting for the kickoff at three major Turkey Bowl games taking place simultaneously!
At stake isn’t just school pride, but also dinnertime conversation and, for players, even the chance for a spot on the post-meal evening TV news.
In a Jesuit vs. Jesuit battle, the Xavier High School Knights (10-1) will face Fordham Prep (7-3) on Thanksgiving morning. The Knights come off a heroic victory 28-25 victory against Christ the King over the weekend that lifted them to CHSFL Class AA champions. Xavier first faced Fordham Prep on Thanksgiving Day in 1905, but the Turkey Bowl classic didn’t become a holiday fixture until 1926. Since then, hundreds of alumni from both schools have gathered each year at alternating home fields for the annual neutral conference game, which will begin at 10 a.m. Thurs.
Just a short Metro-North ride away, at that very moment, the Fairfield Prep Jesuits (5-4) will take to the field against rivals, the West Haven Blue Devils (6-3). The annual contest marks the end of the regular season in the highly competitive SCC (Southern Connecticut Conference). Fans will cheer at home again at Fairfield University’s new Rafferty Stadium following two years away due to construction. The game will be livestreamed by the school’s media club.
Two-hundred-and-fifty miles downfield, in Maryland, Loyola Blakefield (5-5) will face Calvert Hall in a Turkey Bowl match that goes back 95 years. The 10 a.m. game will take place at M&T Bank Stadium – home of the Baltimore Ravens - and will be aired on the local ABC affiliate WMAR-TV.
And in perhaps the most history making match this year, the BC High Eagles will face rival Catholic Memorial on Wednesday night at 7 p.m. at Boston’s historic Fenway Park. Crowds at the home of the Red Sox will be treated to a double header that day, marking the first time since 1935 that high school football games will be played at Fenway. BC holds a 36-16-1 series lead over Catholic Memorial – a Thanksgiving Day rivalry that began in 1962. The game will be live tweeted by BC @BCHigh.
Xavier President Jack Raslowsky commented, “I can think of no better way than the Turkey Bowl to begin our Thanksgiving celebrations. Records are thrown out the window, the game is always competitive and the crowd is always a delight. Yet the Turkey Bowl is more than a good game for players and fans. It is a reminder that we are part of something bigger than ourselves. A reminder that athletics can call forth the best in us. A reminder, for us, that Fordham Prep may be our rival on Thanksgiving morning but they are always our brother Jesuit school. A reminder of the many gifts of Jesuit education, gifts shared at our schools and, thankfully, in Jesuit schools around the globe."