Published 3:17 pm, Wednesday, May 6, 2015
The Turkey Bowl, which was started in 1994, would pit the two powerhouse football teams against each other on Thanksgiving Day -- and the result was often pure magic.
But no more.
Last week, the Fairfield County Interscholastic Athletics Council voted to move the Darien/New Canaan Turkey Bowl game from Thanksgiving morning to the previous Saturday and using Thanksgiving as championship day, and neither the teams or their coaches are happy about the decision.
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"I'm devastated by it," New Canaan coach Lou Marinelli said of the FCIAC's decision to move the games. "I think we have some coaches who didn't understand the ramifications. I think we have some athletic directors that didn't understand. It's a shame."
Marinelli's defensive line coach Harry Catanzaro, who has spent a decade around the FCIAC, echoed the head coach's sentiments.
"I think it is a sad day when two teams play for a championship at the cost of 15 teams not playing on Turkey Day," Catanzaro said.
Darien captains Mark Evanchick, Colin Minicus, Tim Graham, Hudson Hamill and Bobby and Christian Trifone sent a letter to the FCIAC commission, all feeling strongly about the loss of their Thanksgiving tradition.
"All sports hinge on great tradition," Bobby Trifone said. "If the game was held on a Saturday, not only would college alumni not be able to make it, but one of the greatest traditions in Darien sports would be tarnished. Our team has run the high school's offense since the third grade under my dad, always with the dream of playing our senior year Turkey Bowl at home against the Rams.
"My brother played in two Turkey Bowls and talks about them every time he's home; every year, Darien alumni send letters to the players to read before the game expressing the significance of the Turkey Bowl, some arguing that it is the most important game of the season."
Darien beat New Canaan last year by a single point in overtime in what was both the Turkey Bowl and the FCIAC championship game in front of 10,000 people on a snowy day at Stamford High School.
"I would rather have the Turkey Bowl because it is something that both towns look forward to every year," Evanchick said. "It brings both communities together like no other sporting event can."
Minicus added: "As seniors, we've had this game marked on our calendar since we started playing New Canaan in the third grade. It would be a shame to not play our biggest rivals on Thanksgiving."