F.A.M.I.L.Y. 10, Dark Team 7
The 5th Annual Turkey Bowl began like many years before with each team getting together for their own pre-game rituals (which will remain behind closed doors for tradition-sake), and meeting at Andover Field at 9am sharp, on Black Friday morning. The F.A.M.I.L.Y. always rides together while The Dark Team inevitably drives separately per their mantra “You are family. We are individuals” infamously coined by Andrew Sherman, #15 of the Dark Team. As we approached the football gridiron, we could see The Dark Team warming up. We always try to arrive before them, but alas, they beat us every year.
Like many traditions (seemingly superstitions repeated because they worked in years past), The F.A.M.I.L.Y. locks arm-in-arm and walks toward the field only to sprint from the end zone to the 50 yard line. This year, we added a new element to the mix by taking a knee (not an homage to Tebow for you Gator lovers) and screamed at the top of our lungs “Faaaaaaaaaammmmmmmmily” followed by the blowing of a shofar (for effect of course) and sprinted to midfield to warm-up.
Before Turkey Bowl V officially kicked off, our special guest of honor “Papa,” walked out for two ceremonial acts. The first presentation was on behalf of both teams who graciously came together in support of Papa and PPA for our annual game. We raised $1,650 from players, friends and family in support of the Run4Papa campaign going directly to fund research at the Cognitive Neurology and Alzheimer’s Disease Center at Northwestern University. Secondly, we were honored to have Papa flip the coin for possession. He was so excited to participate that at Thanksgiving dinner, he was showing me his coin flipping motion time and time again. Michael, the captain for the Dark Team chose tails, and as fate would have it, it turned up heads. “You brought a ringer” one of the players shouted and with that intensity level, Turkey Bowl V was underway.
Each touchdown is worth 1 point and the first team to 10 points wins. The F.AM.I.L.Y. chose to defer until the second half and started on defense. We got an immediate 3-and-out and went on offense. Neither team could score on its first 3 possessions. Eventually, The F.A.M.I.L.Y. went ahead 1-0 only to be matched right away by the Dark Team. The nerves and tension were palpable and with no timeouts, subs, or stoppage in the game besides switching sides or temporary injuries, players have to be ready for an adrenaline filled morning. At 2-2, The Dark Team’s rookie quarterback, Dakota, threw an interception which ultimately led to a 3-2, then 4-2 lead for The F.A.M.I.L.Y. At 5-2, the Dark Team made several interceptions (Rogers) and defensive stands of their own to close the gap at 6-4 by halftime.
Last year, the game was 5-5 at halftime. The Dark Team ended up running away with the game winning 10-6 convincingly and we vowed not to let this repeat happen again. Two hours into the game, the jawing continued and emotions were running high as The F.A.M.I.L.Y. led 7-4. The Dark Team was gaining solid yardage by transitioning to a “hurry-up” offense which forced us to adjust from zone to man-to-man coverage; that is, until yours truly got beat on back-to-back plays! As a result, we switched back to zone defense. With the score at 9-6 in favor of The F.A.M.I.L.Y., player’s calves were cramping, their bodies were hurting and each stop was vital to maintain momentum. But like all great rivalries, neither team nor player would EVER admit to hurting and broke through numerous mental and physical walls because of what the next 364 days brings for the loser: utter disappointment and shame.
The last touchdown is always the hardest.
We couldn’t score and we were having a tough time stopping their rookie Quarterback. He was elusive and poised throughout the afternoon. As the score tightened to 9-7, and after every cliché had been spoken in the huddles and between teammates, our quarterback Dustin lead our team down the field by scrambling like a man determined not to be defeated. He lead our team all day and toward the end zone for a 10-7 victory!
The 3-hour melee finally came to an end. Both teams shook hands and we posed for a couple post-game pictures as is our tradition. As players left the field, each person signed the check that was presented to “Papa” at the pre-game ceremony. We all headed off to a local pizza joint called Buddy’s to eat homemade minestrone soup, salad and some of the tastiest square slices the great state of Michigan has to offer.
As part of our newest tradition, the winning team gets to choose the charity of choice for next year…o, and enjoy the victory for the next 364 days!
Watch the pre-game festivities video: Run4Papa Meets Turkey Bowl V
To see photos, go to: Turkey Bowl V